7 Ways to Stay Positive at Work

Staying Positive At Work

When I worked in Corporate London, I was like many others. Not thinking I was particularly negative, cynical or anything else. It was only when I started getting into different circles of people that I realised that I was not super positive. The new people I was hanging around seemed to do things differently.

That’s not to say they were all happy-clappy positive thinking types. Head in the clouds or anything. But they were so down-trodden with life in the big smoke or worn down by the countless corporate hours and commuting.

The things is, I was still in Corporate London. Most of these other people weren’t. So how did I manage to turn my default “corporate London greyness” into a more positive attitude?

1) Working Out Before Work

There are many benefits to an early morning workout. You get a release of endorphins first thing lifting your mood, not to mention elevating your metabolism for the rest of the day, avoiding allowing “life” to get in the way of an evening workout, plus it helps you sleep well at night working out in the morning.

For the purposes of positivity though, not only do you get that endorphin ride, but you also become pretty pleased with what you’ve accomplished while the rest of the city sleeps – or worse, is crammed onto the tube and other public transport or stuck in gridlock. That to me was one of the biggest things. Commuting outside of rush hour.

By exercising early you get all these benefits.

2) Being Selective About Your Inputs

That means being very careful about what you allow to occupy your mind. Especially first thing when you are just waking up. For me that meant goodbye to the radio alarm (and all the adverts and news stories), goodbye to the sensationalist and tabloid-style free newspapers. Even good bye to music in the headphones.

Instead, I replaced with inspirational, motivational and educational non-fiction and biographies to read. And to listen to (as my reading commute was only 10 minutes!), I found lots of instructional audios.

I learnt a lot just on the commute!

3) Protect and Perfect Your Environment

For me, similar to above, I chose to drown out the ‘noise’ that goes on in open plan offices. The moaning, talking about trivialities, phones going off etc. How? I put headphones back on and listened to something I could work to. No lyrics. Classical music, meditative tunes. Something that would get me into flow without disrupting my work, while the headphone drowned out everything else.

And sometimes, even if I didn’t want to listen to anything, I’d still have my headphone in! Just as a clear signal to others not to engage with me.

You might also want to put motivational or practical messages around your work station. I used to have Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits posted in front of me. It’s a work-related reminder on how to be most effective at work and it helped keep me focussed when I might have wavered.

4) Take regular breaks and get outside

So many of my colleagues used to take lunch at the desk, or go to the canteen with everyone else and have their lunch. Now, I acknowledge I might have been a bit anti-social (but the canteen also held no decent food for me) by not going, but by not engaging with them in that environment, I limited my exposure to inputs which didn’t lift me.

Instead, I got outside. I explored new places to eat, looked at the trees, sky and birds and took in a sense of appreciation for it all. And for being able to be outside. That rejuvenated me and the total break in environment helped me get back to work in the afternoon with a renewed sense of focus.

5) Protecting My Home Life

There’s a lot to be said for working hard. But it’s not the same thing as working long. I made sure that I was away at a reasonable hour each night by having a clear set of objectives for what I wanted to achieve by the days end. (This based on working backwards from what you need to do by end of project, month, week). And because I didn’t engage in time-consuming activities like idle chit-chat, distracted by other people’s phone calls etc, I was more often than not, able to finish on time with a sense of satisfaction. And I was then able to have more time in the evening to do things which I was really passionate about and got my positive mood to the forefront.

6) Micro Meditations

These micro meditation as I call them are when I used to either take some time to go to a bathroom cubicle and just sit for 5 minutes with my breath. Usually with some meditation music so that I could not hear what else was going on in there! Or I would – if the lift was especially packed and I happened to be taking it – just close my eyes, focus on my breath and go within. Just spending a bit of time – no matter how short – with myself and no other distractions, helped me maintain and foster a positive mindset. This micro-renewal periods really helped.

7) See the bigger picture and be thankful

And lastly, I was able to see the bigger picture and be thankful. I understood why I was there, earning my keep. I knew that I was there because one day I wanted to start something else on my own and that kept me motivated. For you it might be another reason, but find a compelling why for why you are at work. And paying the bills isn’t motivating or compelling. I was also thankful because many people at this time didn’t have jobs, or didn’t have jobs as good as mine (as I perceived it). So having gratitude for what I had, helped keep me positive.

And how to create a habit of gratitude? The way I did it, which I recommend to every client, and which changed my life is this. Start each day, or end each day by writing down three things that you can be grateful for. Keep this in a book by your bed and do it first or last thing.

We’re so used to skewing our perception to the negative, but this exercise literally re-wires your brain to seek out the positive. It’s hard at first, but soon enough you’ll have no problem. I’ve been doing this over 4 years now and have to say that it’s the thing that probably had the biggest impact on my mood. I should probably write a complete blog post just on this topic as its such a profound and life-changing exercise.

So whether you’re like I was (and a little be jaded by city life), totally pessimistic, or a complete optimist, I think that doing the above will help even more.



Interestingly enough, I filmed this video for this blog post that I wrote in 2015, but forgot that I’d actually filmed a video back then too – just not included in this post. So here’s that video too!


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