How positivity is one of the most important traits you can possess

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The power of positive thinking has had a lot of attention in recent years. But don’t worry – we’re not here to tell you that plastering on a smile and chanting mantras is the secret to that new job or promotion. Instead, we’re talking about how experiencing positive emotions in the workplace, essentially being happy, and being optimistic in the face of challenges, can make your worklife more successful as well as more enjoyable.

A much-cited paper by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson says that positive emotions mean you see more possibilities and have more ideas. This means, according to Fredrickson, that you’re more likely to build new skills (she calls it the broaden-and-build theory). Conversely negative emotions mean you’re less likely to see possibilities and learn new skills: the mind focuses instead on the real or imagined threat.

The idea that success comes from happiness, rather than the other way around, is also the theme of a hugely popular (and funny) TED talk ‘The Happy Secret to Better Work’ by psychologist Shawn Achor. He thinks that happiness inspires productivity; after all, not many of us are really working to our potential when we’re very stressed, anxious or bored. It’s a mistake to think success comes before happiness – instead we just move the goalposts.

So to maximise your chances of success at work, it would seem worth looking at how to maximise positive emotions and reduce the negative ones.

This means thinking about how you approach your job, challenges, and the people you work with. It means making an effort to appreciate the things you like about your job, and to treat challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. (To change our mindset into being a more positive one, Shawn Achor suggests we perform random acts of kindness, write down things we’re grateful for, and meditate,) Furthermore, the more positive you are, the more you will become someone in the office people admire and want to work with. These behaviours create a virtuous circle by which you will start to find more fulfilment in your job. And the more fulfilled, happy and open to new ideas and skills you are, the faster you’ll progress.

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