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How to foster positivity at work

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At attitude of gratitude can truly change the way you view your day-to-day work.

Gratitude (in the workplace and beyond) is not just good because your meditation app tells you so. It’s a feeling, a mindset deeply rooted in our psyche and our overall sense of wellbeing and happiness.

Since our work and ‘life’ boundaries are more blurred than ever, work must become a place that can enrich the rest of - on average, we spend 40 hours per week working.

I am reading your mind: “easy for you to say, you are a business owner doing what you love”. Yet, no matter the path, you’ll have days when the ‘doing what you love’ mantra does not cut it.

I know what you may be thinking: “Please, Fab, do not ask me to write down 3 Zoom meetings I am grateful for”. Or maybe “I am grateful for morning coffee, does that count?”

I am not to throw a bunch of mantras at you — on the contrary, I want you to truly understand why gratitude can be so damn hard.

Whether you consider yourself an optimist or not, we all tend to default to negativity. It’s called our negativity bias, where we give greater weight to negative experiences than positive ones.

Those experiences are the ones that stick to us and in our memory, whilst our ‘wins’ are much more quickly forgotten.

When your brain is programmed to focus on all of the not-so-great things about your day to day work, it’s harder to bring gratitude in.

As well as that, we have to measure up with social comparison — where we try to understand our own status by matching ourselves up against others.

At the end of the day, you might feel happy with your achievements, but as soon as you see that your old friend Jane has got a promotion or landed a book deal the negative feelings kick back in. You might like to think that gratitude comes naturally.

You imagine yourself walking through life smelling the flowers and feeling the sun on your skin with the perfect soundtrack music to follow, however, being appreciative of where you are in your workplace, business or career isn’t second nature.

Encourage yourself to see the glass half full

I love targets, I truly do. I love witnessing growth as well.  However, it puts a lot of pressure on us when it comes to constantly match expectations and meeting accomplished.

If you happen to have control over your targets and goals, then this may be the good time to have a hard look at them and adjust them to make sure they can meet you where you are at. Are you being over-ambitious, impatient?

However, most of us may not have full control over the end goals of a company, and that is fine.

There is still something you can control: that is how you measure success at the end of each day. Is it by smashing your to-do list? Is it linked to how many sales you have closed?

How can you make sure you create an achievable way to measure success day to day?

I like to break things into small chunks. Focus on 3 things you really need to achieve each day (may those be tasks or meetings) and link those to your daily successes. Make it impossible for you to fail at this.

See, you already found something to be grateful for at the end of each day.

Making gratitude your attitude

No matter how 'successful' your work and brand may be, we all have to start from nothing.

Roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia (two co-founders at AirBnB) just wanted to break even by offering an air mattress to strangers at first. Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight started by selling sneakers out of his trunk, yet he admits there was nothing else he would have rather been doing back then.

Before you hop onto your next Zoom meeting I want you to think about the following to tune into the feeling of gratitude in the here and now.

Which connections and friendship have I built through my work?

Success and to-do lists are great, but you should not only evaluate your career based on the achievements you can put on paper.

Think about the skills and opportunities you are opening up to as you are learning from other humans. May those be the mentors, co-workers, or managers, all of the relationships you are building are worthy of praise and appreciation, too.

What have you learned in the past month thanks to your work, business or experience?

Whatever you have been learning in the past month or week is teaching you exactly what you want more of and less of in your life. It’s truly giving you a compass to be in charge of the type of career and work-life you want, and inspiring you to take the next steps to make it happen.

Which skills have you refined? How are you better today than you was last month?

The job that taught me by far the most? Picking pears when I was 18. It taught me resilience, patience, and focus. Even those “soul-sucking” jobs that you deem as good-for-nothing help you refine important competencies, as well as help you navigating potentially harder environments.

Below are three ways you can bring a bit more gratitude into your workplace:

  • Set an EOD (end-of-day) gratitude practice, where you write down three things you are grateful for from the past week
  • Share weekly wins with your team (it doubles up as a team-building exercise, hooray!)
  • Share the gratitude with someone who supported you every week, and let them know you appreciate them

All in all, you have been achieving incredible things — your different jobs, life choices and even decisions got you here (and yes, if anything they got you to read this piece and spend three minutes appreciating yourself).

Appreciating the here and now is a way to truly celebrate what is in front of us, and being able to pay things forward ahead of a new day.

TL;DR

  • Negativity bias proves that our brain finds it easier to focus on what doesn’t work rather than what does
  • Measure success at the end of each day by asking yourself powerful questions
  • Share weekly wins and create powerful rituals to redefine accomplishment