How to keep and improve your positive attitude at work – and why it matters!

November 12, 2021  •  Reading Time: 14 min.

24 suggestions for a positive mindset and to develop positivity at your workplace

Do you feel sluggish and unmotivated at work? Maybe you have negative feelings or a generally negative attitude towards your work? You can change that. With a shift in mindset, your attitude, and practical measures, you will once again feel joy at work and develop a positive attitude.

business men have boxes on their heads with faces on them

Work can be much more than just financial security:

  • Work brings recognition for what one has achieved.
  • People who use their skills and master challenges experience satisfaction in their work.
  • Work brings people together with other people.
  • Work also offers the opportunity to broaden one’s horizons and develop personally.

However, work can also lead to great dissatisfaction and tough times:

  • Sometimes one no longer sees any possibility for personal development.
  • One’s own work may not be appreciated.
  • Colleagues might be annoying instead of cooperating.
  • The work may have become routine and no longer poses a challenge.

If the negative effects outweigh the positive ones, you should take action. Simply hoping things will get better is not a solution. A depressing situation and negativity damage your self-esteem, jeopardize your health, and worsen your performance. If anything, they make your situation and life worse. Therefore, take action and use the opportunities you have to develop a good attitude.

If you follow the suggestions in our article, you will improve your situation and regain a positive attitude towards your work and life.

Why is it important to have a positive attitude at work?

“We have to think anyway. Then why shouldn’t we do it positively?”

This quote comes from Albert Einstein. Each of us has about 60,000 thoughts per day, and most of them we do not consciously perceive – they occur automatically. So it is obvious that we also do not perceive many of the negative thoughts. Nevertheless, our thoughts have an influence on our feelings, our motivation and our actions. Many people believe: If I am successful and happy, then I will also think more positively. But it’s the other way around: Positive thinking on the job leads to more success.

Positive thinking and success are related together

In a Harvard Business Review Podcast episode, happiness researcher Shawn Achor notes that today’s economy benefits most from a positive attitude and a motivated brain:

  • It makes us up to 31 % more productive.
  • It increases the likelihood of getting promoted by up to 40 %.
  • Stress-related symptoms decrease by 23 %.

A positive attitude at work – and its effect

When everything is going the way we want it to, it’s easier to think positively. However, it is often difficult to see the good especially in problematic situations or times. That’s exactly when negative thoughts pop up, and it’s not uncommon to get caught in the black carousel of thoughts. Nevertheless, you should try to practice or maintain a positive attitude. Because:

  • It increases motivation.
  • It lowers the stress level.
  • It increases life satisfaction.
  • It increases physical health.

Employees who are motivated perform better. They enjoy going to work and want to achieve their goals. When they are guided by their goal, they feel less negative stress and know how to stay positive. This is because they are enthusiastic about their cause, more likely to see the positive and focus on that as well. This in turn has a positive effect on their overall life satisfaction.

happy middle eastern ethnicity young manager

Practicing a good attitude at the workplace

Since thinking in a positive way pays off at work, a positive mindset is something that should be trained. It should even become a habit that is integrated into everyday life. Optimism does not present itself overnight, but the more it is practiced, the better:

24 ways to develop and maintain a positive attitude at work

1. Embrace learning

Just because you have a job that matches your education doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story. Whether it’s external training or the opportunity to further your education within the company itself: People who continue their education and learn new skills stay mentally fit, show interest in their professional advancement and are automatically more satisfied when their brains are constantly receiving new stimuli.

2. Pass on knowledge

If you only sit on your knowledge, you make yourself and others unhappy and, in the worst case, even harm the company. Better: Offer to share your own knowledge, pass it on and expand it in dialog with colleagues. This not only creates the satisfaction of being an expert in one’s field, but also the satisfaction of being useful and needed.

3. Allow yourself breaks

Doing one task after another without a break makes you tired, unfocused and prone to errors. Doctors advise a five-minute break after every 50-minute session. But it’s also plenty enough to get up in between, stretch, or have a cup of coffee with colleagues. Social interaction with other people also promotes positive feelings – and you return to the workplace refreshed and with new energy.

4. Let work be work

Being constantly available on your smartphone, laptop and tablet after work creates stress – and prevents you from completely switching off and relaxing. Too much work can do significant damage to your body. So when the office door closes behind you, leave the problems of the workday where they belong: In the work environment.

5. Reward yourself

Completed a difficult project, landed a valuable client? Congratulate yourself – and take time to celebrate your personal success. Whether it’s with colleagues, friends or family, allow yourself the time to be proud of what you’ve accomplished and rest on your laurels briefly, but still. After that, you’ll be all the more motivated to get back to work and maintain your positivity in the long run.

6. Practice gratitude

Gratitude is taught in numerous world religions, can supposedly trigger positive emotions and even improve a person’s mental health. Those who are constantly angry and complain are literally hanging a millstone around their necks that is difficult to live with. On the other hand, those who are grateful for the things that life offers them will increase their positive attitude – and will be quicker to see the good in life and in people in the future.

Tip: Try to remember that no one owes you anything. One of the easiest ways to destroy a positive attitude is to develop a sense of entitlement. The feeling that the world owes you something can easily lead to passive-aggressive behavior and a permanent victim identity.

7. Do something good

Whether it’s congratulating your colleagues on their promotion or sharing your lunch with someone: When you do good, you are automatically in a good mood and thus avoid negative attitudes. Not only do these small acts improve the mood of other people around you, but the positivity also radiates back to you, making you forget about your worries and problems.

8. Take part in office life

Whether it’s in meetings, in the coffee kitchen, or at lunch together: If you constantly retreat into your private zone, you’ll eventually feel uninvolved and frustrated. Even if it means taking a step out of your personal comfort zone, reach out to your colleagues, offer to help – or go out for coffee – and build valuable relationships with the people you’re likely to see more often and for longer during the work week than friends, spouses or your own children.

9. Be active after work

Go straight home after work, grab a quick bite to eat and then fall asleep in front of the TV? Tempting, but not purposeful for lifting your mood and being positive. It often makes more sense to spend time between work and the couch doing things you enjoy: Whether it’s exercising, having a drink with colleagues, or taking a walk around the block with the dog, activity drives away thoughts of work, brings calm, and lifts your spirits. Also, give yourself a chance to recharge your batteries and make sure you get enough sleep. After that, why not introduce a morning routine?

10. Treat yourself well

Flowers, photos, postcards or motivational sayings: If you can decorate your workplace according to your personal taste, you’ll like it much better than an anonymous desk. Even little things like your own coffee cup or a potted plant that you take care of in the morning can put you in a good mood – and significantly improve your attitude and bring you some positive energy!

stylish remote workplace

11. Do voluntary work

Instead of being assigned tasks that you may not enjoy, proactively sign up for a project. This gives you more control over your tasks, allows you to work independently for yourself, and at the same time shows your boss and colleagues that you are a dedicated and competent employee. And who knows? If you do it well, it not only creates a positive atmosphere, but may even earn you a raise or a new, exciting project.

12. Design your dream job

Experts call job crafting the method of redesigning one’s own workplace according to existing wishes and needs. Those who use existing leeway to actively shape their own workplace no longer feel helplessly at the mercy of circumstances, but gain new motivation – and automatically a good mood.

13. Set realistic goals

Instead of reaching for the moon, set goals that are realistic, doable and measurable. SMART goals is what work coaches call it: Specific, motivating, achievable, realistic and timed.

14. Take it easy

If you try to do umpteen tasks at once, you’ll get bogged down, make mistakes and eventually get frustrated. It is better to concentrate on one thing at a time – and to do so with the necessary calm and diligence. That makes work easier – and puts you in a positive mood.

15. Don’t blame yourself

In professional life, it is inevitable that mistakes will happen. Instead of brooding over it all night, it makes more sense to honestly and openly face up to your own shortcomings, move forward – and to consider what you can do in the future to prevent such things from happening again.

16. Do what you enjoy

A positive attitude comes easiest in a job that fits well with your own skills and needs – and also corresponds to your own inner calling. Of course, not all aspects of everyday work are always filled with moments of happiness, but if the good moments predominate, you can be sure that you are in the right profession – and have taken the first step toward a positive attitude.

Tip: Take some time to determine the values you want to live life by. Write them down along with your professional goals.

17. Change jobs

Make things happen and stop complaining: Sometimes it’s just not you, it’s the circumstances. If you struggle to get to the office every day with a stomach ache and get a queasy feeling when you think about the coming work week, you should check whether your profession is the right one for you. Changing jobs can be the key to greater satisfaction – and a positive outlook on life as a whole.

18. Smile, please!

Even if you don’t feel like it: Smile. The raised corners of your mouth signal to your brain that you are in a good mood – it reacts accordingly and automatically switches to feel-good mode. You don’t feel like laughing or “fake” positivity at all? Then it’s time for a new challenge!

19. Surround yourself with positive people

Positivity is contagious. Being around positive people helps you maintain a positive attitude and can make a big difference. Try to connect with people who like their work, have new ideas, and are interested in many things other than work. This will improve your overall attitude. You can’t always choose your colleagues, but you can pay attention to how much time you spend with them and in what environment. If you are with a negative group or person, make sure you don’t participate in their negative attitudes.

young people are sitting on colorful seats

20. Avoid gossip

There are few things more damaging to a work environment than gossip or negative people. It creates an atmosphere of distrust among co-workers – and everyone begins to suspect that others are talking behind their backs. Gossip can lead to a poor working environment. Rumors can also create tension between employees and eventually lead to conflict. A negatively charged atmosphere can ultimately affect the quality of work. Do not engage in gossip or support it in any way and avoid spending time with people who have a bad attitude at work.

21. Taking responsibility

When a supervisor or colleague gives you constructive feedback, don’t get defensive. In the long run, everyone will respect you more if you own up to your mistakes and show that you’re not too proud to be judged unfairly. And when you admit your mistakes, you can correct the behavior and learn and grow from the experience.

22. Do not take criticism personally

If someone criticizes your work, remember that it probably wasn’t meant to be personal. Don’t brood over it or take a bad attitude. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Does the other person have more experience or knowledge so that his criticism is justified? Is there something you can learn from the other perspective? Even if you disagree with the feedback that was given to you, you can learn from it. Don’t reject it. Instead, try to look at it objectively.

23. Fill yourself with positivity

Take note of positive things: Always look forward to learning new things and stay curious. This will help fill your mind with positive thoughts and exciting possibilities. Note: It’s never a good idea to suppress your feelings, so don’t suppress or ignore negative feelings. Acknowledge your feelings during tough times, and don’t judge yourself for feeling them. However, try to adopt positive language when it comes to life’s everyday irritations.

24. Create high points every day

Set small “highlights” each day that will help you get through projects or days that would otherwise seem stressful. Daily highlights should be small, simple, not cost money, and not create a bad habit that could negatively impact your health (e.g., junk food) or budget if you do them every day (e.g., go to the bakery every day for a donut and a coffee). Whatever it is, create something to look forward to.

Tip: Being with positive people on a regular basis helps! Be it at work or in private.

How can I overcome a negative attitude at work and have a more positive outlook?

Negative thinking consumes a lot of unnecessary energy, and negativity ruins performance in the short term and prevents success and happiness in the long term.

Did you know that negativity feeds on more negativity until it seems overwhelming? To overcome a negative attitude at work, you can work on becoming more mentally resilient and developing more control. In addition, you should try to perceive reality more accurately and align your thoughts powerfully. Positively aligned thoughts lead to greater success, while negatively aligned thoughts lead to mediocrity or outright failure.

There is a 4-step technique that you can apply directly as soon as a negative thought arises:

  • First, it is important to recognize the negative thought in the present moment.
  • Now interrupt yourself and this thought with a statement, such as “STOP.” By making this statement, you take control again.
  • In the third step, actively focus on something positive. For example, set a small goal or recall a positive memory.
  • In the final fourth step, you consolidate your new positive mental state with a corresponding belief. For example: “I can do it!”

By developing a positive mindset and a positive belief that you always remind yourself of, you can keep negativity at bay. Simply put, you don’t allow your mind to dwell on anything negative, but always give it a positive context.

Tip: Make it your goal to look at each hurdle with a “glass half full” approach. There will always be bad days, but try not to dwell on those things too much.

young business man thinking

Conclusion: You can learn to embrace positivity

Negativity prevents you from being successful and happy in your job, and it also infects your team members.

So there are good reasons to do something about it – and you can definitely do something about it! Take responsibility for yourself and your thoughts, and with hard work and focus, you can rewire and develop your mind. You can learn to be positive and respond with a positive attitude. By applying our tips, you can take control of negative feedback loops and thus improve your mental well-being.

More positivity can even influence the people around you in a positive way. By having a positive attitude at work, you can:

  • Create a positive environment.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Increase productivity.
  • Have more energy.
  • Improve relationships with your customers and colleagues for a more successful business.

Embrace these ways to keep a positive attitude. And then just do it. Constantly. Make an effort to keep a positive attitude at work. It will have a huge impact on your entire life and the lives of those around you.

Frequently asked questions about a positive attitude at work

What does it mean to have a positive attitude at work?

A positive attitude makes you want to keep trying new things, come up with new ideas, and enjoy working with your co-workers. A positive attitude comes easiest in a career that fits well with your own abilities – and that also corresponds to your inner calling.

How can I stay positive at work?

Write down what you are grateful for. Note each day what made you happy or satisfied. Reflect on what you noticed positively at work today.

What are some examples of positive attitudes?

– Being optimistic.
– Being grateful.
– Rewarding oneself.
– Doing good and showing kindness.