Illustration by RGVision Media
Did you know that watching just three minutes of negative news in the morning can increase your likelihood of having a “bad” day by 27 percent? Or that, conversely, watching just three minutes of positive news in the morning can increase your likelihood of having a “good” day by 88 percent? It’s true. In fact, research indicates it is critical we not only start our days with positive things but that we be proactive in maintaining a positive attitude throughout the rest of our day as a means of cultivating our personal wellbeing.
Maintaining a positive attitude has been shown to positively affect four specific areas of our lives: the psychological, the cognitive, the social, and the physical. Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson indicates that those who regularly practice having a positive outlook experience less anxiety and lower levels of depression, as well as increased hopefulness and self-confidence. These positive attitudes in turn improve cognition as they lead to setting higher goals and increasing energy to achieve those goals. They also promote resilience, proactivity, and situational awareness. Positive attitudes improve our social lives, as they foster trust and compassion, resulting in improved relationships, because people with positive attitudes tend to experience less conflict and enjoy being around people more. As a result, people enjoy being around them more, too. Positive attitudes have also been shown to have major impacts on physical health, as positive people tend to have lower blood pressure, lower heart rates, lower stress-related hormones, and stronger immune systems.
Unfortunately, having a positive attitude does not come naturally. Psychologists note that we all experience what is known as a “negativity bias” — the tendency to pay more attention to negative events in our lives as opposed to positive ones. Because of this, we are more likely to remember insults and criticisms than compliments and positive feedback. Thankfully, there are some things we can do to combat this obstacle to our positive attitude.
Researchers have discovered four things to help us shift our attention from the negative to the positive. These things are: gratitude, positive reframing, positive priming, and positive influences. Gratitude, simply stated, is the practice of noticing and appreciating what’s good. Noticing the good things in life, counting one’s blessings, and celebrating the victories of self and others are all gratitude practices that nurture a positive attitude within ourselves and others. Positive reframing, or, “looking at the bright side of things,” is the act of interpreting events in order to reframe them in a positive light. This action, over time, lends to improved attitudes and outlook. Positive priming, the act of starting an event with a good tone, fosters positivity in a manner similar to the example of starting one’s day with three minutes of positive news. Finally, positive influences as a means of combating negativity bias speaks to who and what we surround ourselves with. Do you surround yourself with people who build you up or tear you down? Do you watch television shows that encourage or discourage? How do you feel after spending a prolonged amount of time on social media?
When employees participate in the above processes for improving their attitude, this affects their work performance by boosting morale and productivity and empowering them to produce creative solutions that contribute to company growth and success. Employees with positive attitudes are not discouraged by failure, but are instead resilient when confronted with challenges, and they use those challenges to propel themselves forward.