Over the course of a lifetime, we spend up to 35% of our time at work. When you consider it from that perspective, work becomes more than just a job. It’s a part of your life that affects everything else you do—including who you socialize with, where you live, and what you think about day to day. But unfortunately for the large majority of those in the workforce, their job is the biggest source of stress in their life. This stress can come from everything from the commute, or frustrating co-workers, to strenuous daily tasks, the fear of getting laid off, or having to face the wrath of bosses or clients. Whatever the source of this stress though, study after study has proven that stress leads to very real health problems due to increased cortisol like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Not only that, but it takes a toll on mental health as well.
So how can you combat these stressors that you’ll inevitably face every day at work? Well, the answer is fairly simple. Choose to notice the positive parts of your day rather than dwell on the negative.
Negativity Changes Your Brain
By nature, our brains are wired to register and react to negative emotion. It’s an innate survival tactic that causes our brain to focus only on that negative emotion so we can get away from danger. And while this is useful if you have to run or fight for your life, in an everyday sense, focusing on this negativity can quite literally narrow your mindset. Focusing on the negative emotion causes your brain to shut off the outside world and limit the other options and choices that surround you.
It’s easy to let stress at work consume you and occupy most of your thoughts during the day. Oftentimes, it even spills over into conversations with friends, family, or other co-workers where you complain about this negative stress as a way to release it. Unfortunately though, this behavior, over time, can re-wire your brain into only ever seeing or talking about negative events. It can literally re-shape your brain as the synapses for these thoughts grow closer together. So how do you prevent that from happening?
How Seeing the Positive Benefits You
Positive thinking is a feel-good word that for a lot of people doesn’t carry much weight. Some people may see it as just having a false sense of reality, but research shows that it’s quite the opposite. Choosing positive thoughts over negative and stressful thoughts can help you build skills and see things in a way that those who focus on negative thoughts aren’t able to. Those who continually focus on positive emotions open their mind to more options and sense of possibility, and because of that they develop an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources. Whereas negativity closes off much of the outside world, positivity breeds the development of valuable skills and resources for everyday life that last far longer than the emotion itself.
Choosing Positivity At Work
While for many, this might be easier said than done, anyone can make the choice to start noticing more positive elements of their work day. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to walk around with a grin on your face all day or never feel stressed about a deadline or project, but it does mean that you’ll need to adopt a different mindset than what you’ll find most people have in the office. Here are a few tips to help you do that:
- Don’t start your day with a negative attitude – If you walk through the door with a stressed or cynical attitude, your day will most likely continue with those emotions. If you don’t have time to take a few minutes to clear your mind try prayer/meditation in the morning before leaving home, utilize your transit time to take a few deep breaths and listen to music instead of world/business news to clear your mind of any negative expectations for the day.
- Don’t let negative emotions fester – As you already know, negative emotions can cause your brain to close off and only focus on that feeling. When a co-worker does something to annoy you or your boss lashes out at you for something that wasn’t your fault, try not to fixate on that experience for the rest of the day. Take a break and do something to take your mind off of those negative feelings so you can get back to the real task at hand.
- Pay Attention to Your Conversation Topics-In office culture, it’s quite common for co-workers to bond over complaining about things around the work place, whether it’s policies, administration, or environment. This is not only damaging to individual mindsets, but harms office culture as well. Try to notice when you’re quick to jump in on this complaining, and when you catch yourself playing along, make a conscious effort to either re-position the topic or politely excuse yourself.
- Write it Down - One of the best ways to solidify a memory is to write it down. Journaling is one of habits of successful people and they use it as a tool to gain insight, record goals, and live a better life. Whether you choose to hand write it or keep a simple file on your computer, make a habit at the end of each day to record three positive things that happened during your work day—even if it just happens to be the delicious lunch you had—and you’ll find yourself having a better attitude when you leave for the day.
When it comes down to it, choosing positivity really is a simple choice that pays off big time in the future. Making the conscious effort to notice even the smallest positive elements in your work day helps you have a better attitude about your job, a better outlook on job satisfaction as a whole, and as studies show, even helps you build life skills. Plus, it can even help you live longer as you train your brain to focus on the good instead of the bad, reducing stress levels along with way. With so many benefits that positivity can bring in your life, you really can’t afford not to choose it! Hopefully these simple tips will help you start noticing the good parts of your work day and by making a better workplace for others, we make ourselves better leaders.
***Also published on LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/noticing-good-work-how-can-change-your-life-alex-antonatos?