How To Stay Positive At Work

By Deanna deBara | Published December 1, 2020

You spend a large chunk of your time each day at work—and, as such, it would make sense that you would want to feel positive, happy, and content during those hours.


And not only will keeping a positive attitude at work make you feel better throughout the day, but it can also help you get more done. A 2015 study from the University of Warwick found that happiness made employees 12 percent more productive—so, if you want to be more effective and successful in your job, finding ways to stay positive and happy at work is a great way to get there.


Clearly, staying positive at work can have serious benefits—both for your mood and your performance. But how, exactly, can you keep a positive attitude at work—especially when you’re faced with stress, challenges, or other work-related frustrations?


Let’s take a look at four strategies you can use to stay positive at work—and both feel and perform better in your role as a result:

Surround yourself with the right people


As the old saying goes, positivity is contagious; if you surround yourself with positive people at work, you’re going to feel more positive throughout the day. But the opposite is also true—and if you choose to spend your time with the negative people within your organization, it’s going to be pretty impossible to stay positive at work.


Just how impactful can a negative coworker be? Researchers from Georgetown University found that a tie to a toxic (or, as they call it in the research, “de-energizing”) coworker is four to seven times stronger than a tie to a positive (or “energizing”) one—and those toxic ties can have a seriously negative impact on your work, including decreased motivation and performance.


Bottom line? Keeping a positive attitude at work is ultimately your own responsibility. But the people you choose to spend your work hours with will have a huge impact on how positive or negative you feel throughout the day. So it’s important to choose wisely, surround yourself with team members that make staying positive at work a priority and avoid coworkers who want to pull you into their negativity.


Take a midday walk


A brisk walk can encourage your brain to release endorphins, a feel-good neurotransmitter that helps to boost mood and fight stress—both of which can help you feel (and stay) more positive when you get back to your desk. And the best part? You don’t even have to walk for very long to get the mood-boosting endorphin rush; a 2018 study found that the average time for an exercise-induced “endorphin high” to kick in was just under 10 minutes.


And as an added bonus? Not only can a quick midday walk help you feel more positive at work, it may also help you focus and get more done; another 2018 study found that taking a 15-minute walk in the park during their lunch break improved participants’ concentration when they got back to work post-walk.

Stop being so hard on yourself


You’re not going to be able to feel positive at work if you’re not feeling positive about yourself at work. So, if you’re the kind of person that beats themselves up every time they make a small mistake or constantly compares themselves to coworkers (and comes to the conclusion that they don’t quite measure up), the key to staying positive at work?


Stop being so hard on yourself.


Some people think that being hard on themselves motivates them to do better. But the opposite is true—and research shows that practicing self-compassion can actually increase your motivation, particularly when it comes to self-improvement or bouncing back from a challenge or failure. Research has also found that self-compassionate people have higher levels of happiness, optimism, personal initiative, wisdom, extroversion, curiosity, agreeableness, and conscientiousness—all of which can help you be more positive (and successful!) at work.


So, the next time you drop the ball on a project or send an important email with a typo, cut yourself some slack. Not only will it make you feel more positive about work and yourself, but it can also help you find the motivation to learn and grow from your mistake—which will make you more effective at your job.


Take a gratitude break


Every job has drawbacks and challenges. But if you spend your time focused on the drawbacks and challenges of your role, it’s going to feel pretty impossible to stay positive at work.


So, if you want to feel more positive at work, one of the best things you can do? Shift your focus from the things about your job that frustrate you to the things about your job you’re grateful for.


The next time you find yourself feeling stress, overwhelmed, or frustrated at work, take a gratitude break. Spend five minutes jotting down a few things about your job that you’re grateful for (for example, you might be grateful to have a stable income, the ability to work from home, or a supportive team that has your back).


That five-minute gratitude break can not only make you feel more positive at work—it may help you feel better (and happier!) overall. Research shows that practicing gratitude can have a host of positive benefits, including increased happiness and feelings of well-being, reduced toxic emotions (like envy or anger), better stress regulation, and increased resiliency.


Use these strategies to reap the rewards of staying positive at work


Staying positive at work—particularly in the face of setbacks and frustrations—can be a challenge. But with these strategies, you have everything you need to stay positive at work—and reap the rewards of that positivity (both for your well-being and your work performance) in the process.


What are some strategies you use to remain positive at work? Let us know in the comments.

positivity   productivity  

Productivity Tips  

Deanna deBara

Deanna deBara is an entrepreneur, speaker, and freelance writer who specializes in business and productivity topics. When she's not busy writing, she enjoys hiking and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and dog. See more of her work and learn more about her services at

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