The Power of Positivity

Shawn Achor,author of The Happiness Advantage writes, “Recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that … when we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work.”

Even the “Harvard Business Review,” on the cover of their January-February 2012 issue, featured a yellow smiley face with dollar signs as crinkles at each end of the smile. Superimposed on the face is the title, “The Value of Happiness: How Employee Well-Being Drives Profits.” Inside, the article proclaims: “Emerging research from neuroscience, psychology, and economics makes the link between a thriving workforce and better business performance absolutely clear.”

The fact is …  If you’re not a positive thinker, if you don’t have a positive attitude, you’re in trouble.

Without this quality or passion, life and work become quite drab. Most everything becomes a “have to” instead of a “get to.” For example, the person who doesn’t have a positive attitude says such things as: “I have to go to work today … I have to call on another customer … I have to clean the house … or … I have to pay my taxes.”

By contrast, a person of passion says, “I get to go to work today,” because he knows that work is so much better than not having any work. A person of passion says, “I get to help another customer,” because she knows without her customers she wouldn’t have a business. A person of passion says, “I get to clean my house,” because he is thankful to have a place to live. And a person of passion says, “I get to pay my taxes,” because she is grateful that she makes enough money to even qualify as a tax-paying citizen.

The truth is, if you’re not a positive thinker, if you don’t have a positive attitude, NOTHING can make up for it.

Education can’t. According to historians, some of America’s worst presidents were supposedly the smartest and best educated. And some of the greatest Presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln, had very little formal education. A resume may get you through the door, but that’s as far as it will get you.

Talent can’t. The world is filled with talented people who never achieve personal or professional success. Watch a season or two of “American Idol” or “America’s Got Talent” and you’ll know what I mean. Talent that isn’t fueled by the proper attitude tends to fizzle out before the race is over.

Opportunity can’t. An opportunity may open a door for you, but without positive thinking you won’t make the most of your opportunity. In fact, it may never come to life. As professor Howard Hendricks said, “You don’t put live eggs under dead chickens.” But that’s exactly what negative thinkers do.

Other people can’t. It is very difficult to be successful without the help of other people … or at least be surrounded by the right kind of people. But even that won’t guarantee your success. A team with no heart … no attitude … and no passion … will not go very far.

There simply is no substitute for a positive attitude. It keeps you going when others quit. It releases an abundance of energy … an energy you don’t even know you have … and gets you through the toughest times. As novelist Karen Traviss puts it, “Faith keeps you going when there’s no logical reason to. In its way, it keeps life going.”

Bottom line? A positive attitude is the difference maker. So how can you get this difference maker in your life and in your work? Keep your attitude stimulated.

You may know some people who say they’ve lost their interest in life. Not much if anything turns them on anymore. It’s just another day and another dollar. Chances are they’re doing very little to stimulate their attitude.

Other people think they’ve grown past the enthusiasms of their youth. They’re too old to maintain a positive attitude. Or they just don’t feel all that well. But chances are, once again, they’re doing very little to stimulate their attitude.

Your attitude acts very much like a muscle. If you don’t stimulate or exercise a muscle, it atrophies. It weakens and eventually dies. And the same goes for your attitude. If you don’t stimulate it, it dries up.

If, on the other hand, you keep an active interest in life, you will maintain a powerful, effective, happiness-inducing positive attitude. I found that to be true with my Grandma Grace. Whenever I went to visit her, I would always ask if she’d like to get out, take a ride, go somewhere, see something, or do something … because I knew she was confined to her apartment, due to her age and physical limitations. Invariably, her response would be “No, I’m not feeling that well … or … No, I don’t really want to go anywhere.”

However, with a bit of persuasion, I always got her in the car, and her attitude changed almost instantly. She wanted to see as much as possible and didn’t want to miss a thing. I even persuaded her to accompany me on a trip to Norway at age 88, despite the fact she used a walker to get around. Her passion for life began to soar, and with her renewed interest in life and her positive thinking on the rise, she spent the entire trip walking without her walker.

To keep your attitude positive, keep your attitude stimulated. Keep on learning about the world, the people, and things outside of yourself. Get in the habit of looking forward to each day, wondering what new adventure will come your way.

Steve Durham

Sr. Account Manager, FSIoffice

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