How to develop a positive attitude at work and beyond

Man using desktop PC
(Image credit: Gorodenkoff / Shutterstock)

We get it, honestly – the world is often a difficult, frustrating place. But if you approach its challenges with a positive mindset, even the darkest times will feel a bit more manageable.

This is true in the professional and personal spheres, too: if you tackle life’s biggest tests with gratitude and positivity you’ll increase your chances of success and reduce the size of your failures.

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It’s hard, though, especially after the last couple of years, which is why we’ve detailed ten of the best tips for adopting a positive attitude at work and beyond. Career success isn’t just about positivity, which is why elsewhere on the site we’ve explored the best methods for freelance success and ten amazing ways to kickstart your self-improvement.

Fix your internal dialogue 

Everyone’s familiar with the dark cloud of negative thoughts that can quickly appear when things don’t go your way. And if you want to develop a positive attitude that can help at the office, it’s going to take a bit of work to reroute those particular patterns.

If you find yourself becoming overcome with negative thoughts, stop what you’re doing and take a few seconds to evaluate the situation. Examine the negative thinking and take the time to examine the situation to find a positive. Approach your negative thoughts with an inquisitive attitude rather than a critical approach.

Even if that positive is extremely small, it can turn around how you’re considering an entire situation – and while it’s tough to turn negative thoughts into positives at first, the more you do this the easier it’ll get. Eventually it’ll just become normal, and your entire attitude will improve.

Surround yourself with positivity 

You reflect the company you keep. To that end, try to ensure that your closest friends and professional contacts are generally positive people – because that’ll rub off on you, too.

If you spend more time with positive people, you’ll laugh and smile more, and they’ll help you see the positives in negative situations. When you regularly spend time with naturally positive people, you’ll start to think that way too.

Remember the simple pleasures 

When life is busy – both in our working environments and personal spheres – it can be too easy to forget that we’re usually surrounded by lots of pretty cool stuff. And if you do forget too often, you can reverse this situation by reminding yourself to appreciate and enjoy the smaller and simpler pleasures that most of us encounter throughout our day.

If you stop to smile at the smaller pleasures, whether it’s a kind word, a nice snack or some time to enjoy a hobby, you’ll feel more positive in all areas of your life. And when small pleasures are more readily available, appreciating these can give you an important drip-feed of positivity that we otherwise just wouldn’t get.

Take time to be grateful 

Invest in a gratitude journal to help develop a more positive attitude in the workplace. It doesn’t take much time to write in a journal every day, and if you note down a handful of things to be grateful for then you’ll transfer that feeling to small and large occurrences as a matter of routine.

If you find time to feel grateful several times a day then you reduce the window of time for negative thoughts and your entire mood will improve. It’s a simple shortcut to a positive attitude. 

Get regular exercise 

Exercise isn’t just a good option for physical health. The hormones and chemicals released during physical activity have loads of mental benefits, from improving your concentration and cognitive abilities to reducing stress and anxiety.

And, crucially, physical exercise does an excellent job of releasing hormones like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin – the chemicals that make you feel happy and loved. If you exercise, you’ll get more of those chemicals, and you’ll feel more positive. It’s that simple.

Get regular rest, too 

Exercise is critical, but so is recovery. If you want to keep a level head and encourage a positive attitude, you need to give yourself time to rest, because nobody can stay positive when they’re overworked and burnt out. It’s easier if you have time to repair your tired brain and aching muscles.

Alongside rest, ensure that you look after yourself properly. Allow yourself time to enjoy your hobbies, have downtime, get good sleep and eat nice food. If you commit to self-care, you’ll naturally have more positive thoughts – because you’re not always exhausted and stressed. 

Treat yourself 

Self-care doesn’t just have to be about getting enough sleep and giving yourself time to rest. You work hard and you try your best, so you’re allowed rewards, too. Think about it this way: you’d want to buy something nice for a struggling friend or congratulate a family member on a great achievement, and you deserve to give yourself the same kindness.

If you’ve been craving some delicious food, a new book, the latest video game or a weekend city-break – and as long as you’ve got the money – give yourself permission to treat yourself and enjoy something nice. You may not see it this way, but you deserve it. A treat will make you feel better, and it’ll encourage positivity.

Consider volunteering 

If you have the time and means to do so, consider volunteering at a local organization. It doesn’t matter what kind of volunteering you do, but you’ll feel fulfilled and help other people – and that will make you feel grateful and more positive.

Embrace routine 

You’ll struggle to stay positive at work and beyond if your days are chaotic. Instead, develop tried-and-tested routines to help make each day a success.

If you’ve got a good morning routine you can start the day by feeling positive and grateful. Try to include exercise, healthy eating, some mindfulness and a shower to ensure that you start each day on the right note – because your brain will be better placed to curate and maintain a positive attitude.

Don’t restrict routines to the mornings, either. Ensure that you have a consistent evening routine that allows you to reflect on the day, find the positives, and get plenty of good sleep. That won’t just keep you thinking positively about the day you’ve just experienced, but it’ll also help make the next twenty-four hours better.

Set concrete goals 

It’s easier to maintain a consistent positive attitude if you pair your routines with achievable, measurable goals, and that goes for your career and for other areas of your life, too.

If you know what you’re working towards and how you’ll get there you can see the steps you need to take, break them down into smaller tasks, and reward yourself when you get the job done. The combination of frequent rewards and consistent, clear progress are ideal if you want to stay positive.

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Mike has worked as a technology journalist for more than a decade and has written for most of the UK’s big technology titles alongside numerous global outlets. He loves PCs, laptops and any new hardware, and covers everything from the latest business trends to high-end gaming gear.