As the 1944 Johnny Mercer song advises, “you’ got to:
Ac-cent-chu-ate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”
You should love what you do. Life is too short to spend two-thirds of your waking hours in an environment that you do not enjoy. That is how much time we spend at work on average. Some of us spend significantly more than that.
You don’t have to love every minute of everything you do but focusing on the positive can have tremendous rewards. The more pleasure we take in our careers, the more effective and successful we are likely to become.
In a recent performance evaluation, my boss praised me for my “positive attitude”. I was complimented, but surprised. I do try to surround myself with people that are happy and positive so that people that are less than happy, the complainers, do not get me down. Of course I have bad days, we all do, I just try to remember that I am glad to have a job, especially one that challenges and frustrates me as that pushes me to find a way to do it better.
This past year has been a difficult time for many of us to keep the joy in our careers. We have seen colleagues and friends laid off, salaries frozen, and bonuses and perks cut. This can really affect the morale of co-workers, but above all the gloominess, there are those who will work hard and stand out above the rest. Their enthusiasm and commitment helps give all of use a boost in mood and encouragement.
When you love what you do, you are a role model for others. Your enthusiasm and joy about your work makes you more approachable for others that may be looking for guidance and direction. Your positive attitude can change other people. The simple act of smiling can palpably raise the mood of both the “smiler” and the “smilee”. Brain scan studies have shown that pleasure centers in the brain light up when a person smiles. The same is true of those that receive the smile. And, interestingly, it doesn’t even have to be a sincere smile. Test subjects who gripped pencils in their teeth were working many of the same facial muscles as if they were smiling – pleasure centers in their brains lit up and their moods were more positive.
I am not suggesting that we should go through life with silly, insincere grins on our faces, but there is an abundance of evidence that a good mood improves work performance, and it can be cultivated. It is something that you do for yourself, rather than something that is done to you. Accentuating the positive at work can give your performance a boost that others will notice – even if they are one of the office grumps. Try it!