Author: Scott Timmins
As the sun peers over the horizon, the animals of Attitude Gully start to stir; they know dawn is fast approaching. Attitude Gully is a small lush forest in the southernmost part of Australia’s mainland. Before too long all the daytime animals of Attitude Gully will be up and scurrying around looking for fun, frivolity and of course food.
As the sun hits Burrow Number One Emily the Echidna is already up getting ready to hit the forest floor hard. Emily is always excited about the prospects that each day brings. She starts each day by reflecting on the exciting things she experienced the day before. As she prepares to head out to the termite plains for her daily feed, she writes in her journal:
“Today is going to be a great day”
The sun is starting to emit its full glow on the forest floor when, in Burrow Number Nine, Nick the Numbat wakes up. He does not want to get up and go foraging for his food today. He just wants to lay there and do nothing. He is miserable and struggles to find the motivation he needs to get going. His stomach grumbles and Nick decides that he has to face the world yet again. As he gets out of his bed, he kicks his foot on a root and yells out:
“Typical start to a miserable day!”
Who do you think had the more fulfilling day, Nick the Numbat or Emily the Echidna? Who was able to see the glass, as half full not half empty? Who was more resilient?
More and more research into the power of positivity by leading psychologists like Professor Martin Seligman, have started to spread light into the power of having an optimistic attitude. Not only has positivity shown success in improving an individual’s physical health and resilience, but also provides a buffer against depression, anxiety and stress related illness.
Being like Emily the Echidna and looking for all that is good sounds easy enough, but what if you are in Nick the Numbats shoes. What if it has been a hard slog for a long time? How do you make the change from negativity to positivity?
Through the application of science-based research, you will be able to apply proven strategies each day to combat your daily doldrums:
The key to changing those stubborn thought patterns is through action. If you are in the act of being positive or doing something that is good, then it is hard for your mind to argue that the world is full of doom and gloom. Start by doing a random act of kindness. Bake a cake for morning tea, send an e-card to a colleague or donate some money or goods to people in need. It can be as simple as saying something nice about someone. Any act of kindness engages the recipient’s reward circuit, which makes them feel good. Simultaneously your reward circuit is activated and in turn you feel good for being kind. It is almost impossible to feel the world is a bad place when you feel good for making others feel good.
Successful people like Emily the Echidna choose how they are going to feel each day. They do not let the day dictate how they will feel, they actively choose the attitude they need to achieve their goals. As soon as your eyes open up in the morning, decide what attitude you are going to take. Say it aloud to yourself or write it in your journal. Research has also demonstrated that music can dramatically influence your mood. If you wanted to feel sad then putting on Pearl Jam’s – Last Kiss, is a sure fire way to get you there fast. However if you want to fell upbeat and ready to take on the world then Survivor’s – Eye of the Tiger is almost certainly going to inspire you to fight hard. Do not let the radio choose what song you want to start the day with. Choose an upbeat song in the morning to set your frame of mind the moment you wake up.
The first element to changing your negative thought patterns is about recognising them. Often we will not even consciously know that we are being negative until we are told by someone close to us. Negative thinking can often become all consuming and drown out the positive aspects of life. In fact, scientist say that all of us tend to have a negativity bias. That is we are prone to see the negative before we see the positive. Once you can acknowledge that you have just had a negative thought, most of the hard work is done. Negative thought replacement is a method you can use every time you notice negativity creeping in. For example if you catch yourself saying “ I hate my job” replace it with a thought about what you like about your job “ I really like working with Emily as she is so positive”. Turning negative thoughts into positive opportunities has been proven to help people maintain resilience in stressful situations.
Trying to get Nick the Numbat to change his negative lifelong habits, will not happen overnight. However, by focussing on what positive actions you can do today will have an almost immediate effect on how you are feeling today. Longer term, when you work on positive thinking and feeling you end up moving your mind frame from that of Nick the Numbat to one more like Emily the Echidna
If you want to know, more about how I can help increase positivity in your workplace contact me today
What strategies, tools or tips do you use to remain positive, especially when you are under stress in the workplace? Please share them below.