Positive Thinking Exercises for the Workplace
Quickly dismiss negative thoughts by practicing our positive thinking exercises for the workplace. Is it “just another manic Monday” or is it the “best day ever!”? When you first wake up, your perspective sets the tone for your entire day. You own the day as much as you own your thoughts.
My mom, who lived to be 90 years old, had this inspirational quote taped next to the coffee can.
“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Without a doubt, she read it every day, along with a prayer thanking God for this blessed day. This is a great example of a positive thinking exercise. Here we explore more positive thinking exercises to start putting into practice now.
Use Positive Affirmations
We have 12,000 to 50,000 daily thoughts, and around 80% are negative, according to the National Science Foundation. Geez, how do you maintain a positive mental attitude in the workplace, when human nature is against you?
- Practice positive self-talk. Transform your first and last thought of the day: I’m looking forward to my day. My thoughts are creative. I am confident! The past is over. End your day expressing gratitude and remembering a positive thing that happened. I had a successful day today. We laughed so hard in the meeting today when someone showed their favorite cat video. I am grateful for my quirky coworkers. Take a minute and give yourself a positive affirmation.
- Incorporate an inspiring word into your password logic. Smile!234, Breathe*567, YouCanDoIt$789. We have to keep creating new passwords and changing existing ones, so let’s use that and choose positive words that make us feel good... every time we type them! No negative words allowed. Use an affirmation as the silver lining to the annoying task of constantly changing passwords!
- Decorate your workspace with items that inspire positive thinking. Positivity will surround you and coworkers who visit your workspace. My plaque says “Faith,” and assures me everything will be all right. I love positive images, too. Nothing better than looking at my photo of the ocean and blue sky. It gives me a sense of calmness and appreciation for the beauty in the world. Think about Bert Jacobs, co-founder of Life Is Good’s branding message...“Life Is Good.” It’s a $150 million-dollar business! This speaks to the power of spreading optimism.
Manage your Stress Levels
At times, the business world can be stressful, for a variety of reasons. Demanding deadlines, back-to-back meetings, or management changes can create unneeded stress. Here are several techniques to help you manage it in the workplace, while getting you back on track to positive thinking.
- Take a deep breath. In stressful situations, for many people, several physiological things take place. Their heart rate quickens. They may find themselves breathing faster. They might feel sweaty or dizzy. In these instances, anxiety can take over and compound these symptoms. The simple act of taking a deep breath can help calm your mind and heart. Go ahead, take a deep breath right now!
- Disconnect from technology. Spend a few minutes away from your computer and phone. Take a walk. Combine a few of our suggested exercises, and take a deep breath, while repeating a few positive affirmations. Try to reset your brain. Consider turning off notifications on your phone to keep from constantly checking your apps. Designate time for social media, and then put the phone away.
- Embrace a surrender moment. You may encounter policies or decisions being made that you disagree with. These situations may make you angry or frustrated, but they are out of your control. I call these surrender moments. Don’t waste your energy sitting in your anger. Surrender and just go with it.
- Set your intentions. This is common practice with mindful communications and being purposeful in managing stress while working toward your goals. For example, let’s say you have too many negative thoughts about an upcoming meeting. In the past, the meeting leader has been very antagonistic and closed-minded. Think about your goal for the meeting. Set your intention. Try to pivot your thinking toward a positive outcome for all.
Gratitude in the workplace has many benefits and contributes to a more productive, positive work experience. A quick positive thinking exercise is to stop and think of something you are grateful for. Modern neuroscience tells us that gratitude in any form can enlighten the mind and make us feel happier. Here are several ideas on how to incorporate gratitude into your day and create more positive experiences.
- Say thank you. This may seem obvious, but sometimes we move too fast and forget to say a simple thank you, whether it be in an email, chat, or phone call. Think about recent work interactions. Do you owe someone a quick thank you email?
- Write a thank you note. I believe the traditional thank you note is a dying breed, so when someone sends an actual hand-written thank you note, it has even more meaning! You reap the positive thinking benefits by the simple act of writing the note, and the recipient feels appreciated.
- Celebrate special occasions. Take the time to honor work anniversaries and birthdays. I have great memories of celebrating birthdays at my former employer. We would pick someone’s name out of a bowl. Each person had the responsibility of bringing a special birthday treat to share and a card to sign. I still have all 22 of my cards from my 22 years working there.
- Socialize in person. Spending time with team members in social situations can help to build relationships and express gratitude in ways you can’t duplicate online. Organize a team lunch, an outing at a baseball game, or a team-building activity, like a ropes course or go-cart racing. These are great ways to share time with your coworkers and show gratitude toward your team. This time spent together can also affect employees’ positive emotions toward their employer.
- Share good news. It’s easy to allow negative information to dominate conversations. In our world of difficult times, we need to make a special effort to focus on the good things. Start posting successes on your internal social media channels. We also use our internal Slack channel to share pictures of new babies, furry coworkers, and even barbecue accomplishments!
Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
My father, a business owner, taught me to always give 100%, and to never cheat your company by giving anything less. He also believed in a healthy work-life balance. He owned his weekends, evenings, and vacation time. He showed us how to have a successful career life, filled with a positive mindset. These positive thinking and self-care exercises will help train your brain to see the positive, allowing you to then better manage negative emotions. They will break patterns of negative thinking and support that all-important healthy work-life balance.
- Get some physical activity daily. Remember, 10,000 steps a day toward physical health.
- Use gratitude journaling. When you are focusing on thankful thoughts, you cannot have anxious or negative thoughts at the same time.
- Tune in to some favorite music. As my father said, “Always have it playing!”
- Have some midday meditation. Try a guided meditation video on YouTube or a free mindfulness app.
- Read a good book. Read a chapter from one of the 22 Best Positive Thinking Books (to Read in 2022).
- Create a vision board. Look into the future and daydream about positive things, like your healthy savings account, your dream vacation, or that promotion at work.
- Get plenty of sleep. This helps your memory, raises energy levels, relieves irritability, and lets your body recover from the day.
- Set an end to your workday. Set clear boundaries between your workday and your personal time.
“Protect your time with your life.” - Bert Jacobs, co-founder of Life Is Good and presenter at 2022 ATD International Conference and Expo, “Closing General Session: Life is Good – the Power of Optimism.”
There are times we encounter challenging situations in the workplace that trigger negative thinking. It can be very difficult to pivot out of negative thoughts. Sometimes you may need training to help you through difficult and stressful situations. Training can help you maintain your composure and work through difficult situations with diplomacy and empathy. Training can also build confidence and help support a more positive attitude.
HSI offers many training topics that could help employees work through challenging situations:
- Concerned Conversations
- Dealing with Difficult Coworkers
- Difficult Customers
- Emotional Intelligence
- How to Handle Negative Feedback
- Keep Your Cool
Offering an employee training and development program can not only help employees through difficult situations, but also position them for improved productivity and future promotions. Years ago, my employer valued my expertise in art direction. But I needed training in negotiating techniques. Access to that training proved invaluable, giving me more confidence and a positive outlook, while increasing my worth to the company overall.
A few courses from our Business Skills Library that could help build a positive thinking culture include:
- Compliments: How to Receive a Compliment
- Cultivating Gratitude
- Fix that Bad Attitude
- Making Your Work More Meaningful
- Staying Positive
- Unconscious Bias
- Working Well with Everyone
Many of our clients open their HSI training library to employees for self-directed learning. Employees can choose off-the-shelf training video courses best suited for their unique needs. Sign up for a free trial of our HSI LMS. You will have access to our Business Skills library, to watch the courses mentioned.
According to developgoodhabits.com, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit. Make a conscious decision today, and turn these positive thinking exercises into habits. As you begin taking these positive steps, you’ll be spreading good along your path and with all those you encounter.
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.” - Walt Whitman