6 Side-Effects of a Positive Mindset
It may seem cliché, but there is a reason why the idea of having a positive mindset is an important part of success in all aspects of life, from personal to career to relationships.
Science has determined, for example, that people who struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), benefited greatly by replacing negative, worrying thought patterns with more positive ones.
If this is true for individuals with anxiety, imagine what it means for those who want to change the trajectory of their lives and careers.
Psychologists have gone further in their report – The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success? – published in the 2005 Psychological Bulletin published by the American Psychological Association. They state that – converse to what many may think – happiness leads to success, rather than the other way around.
The reasons for this are multiple and they complement one another.
- People who have a positive mindset are able to expand on their skills.
When you’re not focused on the negative aspects of a situation or circumstances, ideally you will see things as going well. This allows you the mental space to delve deeper into your own skills and embrace learning. Specifically, these individuals are able to “take the opportunity to build their repertoire of skills for future use; or they can rest and relax to rebuild their energy after expending high levels of effort.”
- A positive mindset gives you a broader vision
People with a positive mindset are able to view challenges differently. Because they already have a calm, grateful, and open mind, they can view these challenges as opportunities and embrace them as privileges.
- A positive mindset is contagious
Have you ever encountered someone who is frequently unhappy? How excited were you to have to go into a meeting with that person or work with them on a project? Probably not very much. That’s because peoples’ emotions can be contagious. The good news is, this works in both directions. Projecting a happy, positive attitude to your colleagues and superiors, feeds the positive mindset of the whole. This also lends itself to your being noticed as a healthy and valuable part of the team, rather than just another cog in the machine.
- Positive people live longer
Scientists have discovered that people who exhibit positivity, have a longer lifespan. In fact, in a study done at the Research of Kentucky, scientists discovered that a group of nuns who showed positivity and appreciation lived “up to 10 years longer than those who expressed [less]. This gain in life expectancy is considerably larger than the gain achieved by those who quit smoking.”
- Being positive changes your focus
Most often, we are our own worst critics. We tend to beat ourselves up for failures and shortcomings and this can lead to a downward spiral. But positive people are able to focus more on their achievements which, in turn, keeps them focused on growing. Further, being positive means accepting failures and shortcomings as lessons to learn, rather than self-deprecating. In these ways, a positive mindset boosts self-confidence.
- Positivity creates a trustworthy reputation
It is much easier to garner support from colleagues and superiors when you are able to advocate for yourself in a positive way. You’ve shown your ability to take challenging situations and turn them around in a positive way with a positive attitude and this means you are more likely to receive the attention and support needed to advance.
It’s important to note that having a positive mindset does not mean being unrealistic. We often hear about gurus touting the effectiveness of visualization and how simply visualizing your success will make it happen but this kind of positivity is not realistic.
Realism Vs. Optimism Vs. Pessimism
Realism is the ability to look at people, places, situations, and circumstances realistically. Specifically, it is “the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.”
Optimism is the ability to look at things with a positive mindset. It is the “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.”
Pessimism is a negative mindset that sees only the worst parts of things. “A tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.”
In business – and in life – a positive mindset is one that combines both realism and optimism. Someone with lofty goals and little or no ambition is likely being unrealistically optimistic. But great leaders are able to look at the situation realistically and – rather than see the negative aspects – are able to extract positive aspects and use these to come to creative solutions.
Sometimes it can be hard to stay positive when dealing with multiple crises, no matter how happy you are in general. We are all challenged each day and staying positive can – at times – be difficult.
As a rule, if you’re able to take just a moment during those challenging times, take a few deep breaths and refocus your thoughts. By training yourself to focus on positivity, you create confidence, self-efficacy, likability, energy, and a host of other positive attributes that will be conducive to finding solutions and more likely to lead to success.
Here are a few other tips to help you stay positive at work.
- Give compliments to coworkers.
Sincere compliments are sometimes rare – especially at work – but if you see something worthy of a positive comment, whether it’s someone’s performance, hair, or outfit, providing positive feedback helps your target perform better and makes your brain feel good, too. Plus it helps you to build positive relationships among your colleagues which serves to reinforce a positive work culture.
- Disengage from too much stimulation.
Anxiety and worry are among the foundations of negativity and when faced with an array of tasks, problems, anger, or other negative emotions or situations, it can be difficult to stay focused and positive. Experts suggest disengaging from such negativity gives you the freedom to focus on solutions.
- Stay Present
It may take a few long, deep breaths but remind yourself to focus on the here and now. Being mindful of the situation at hand helps you stay focused on finding solutions. Thinking about what may happen or what could have happened takes away from your ability to think free of negativity but if you focus on what you’re able to accomplish right now – at this moment – you’re more likely to be able to dig in your heels and embrace the opportunity to flourish.
Ultimately, people with a positive mindset are actively engaged in their work and lives because they view their goals as achievable and they see their roles as important. Positivity promotes a sense of achievement and openness to learning and when it comes to success, these are just two very important parts of personal and professional growth.