5 Ways to Maintain a Positive Attitude in a Negative Work Environment

Do you wake up every morning absolutely stoked to go to work?

Have you never had a bad day at the office or felt at your wit’s end?

Do you have the perfect job with a perfect boss and a perfect work environment?

If your answers to these three questions are yes, then congratulations! You have discovered a time warp. Stay there for as long as possible and let the rest of us know your secret to eternal happiness and never ending success ASAP.

However, if your work days can sometimes be frustratingly long, or your boss can make you contemplate fleeing to Norway to bake tiny, intricately designed muffins, then fear not: you’re not alone.

With the rise of social media, it’s easy to feel that everyone but you is living perfect lives and thriving in their dream jobs. The professionally curated images of smiling Instagram models and rented 600 ft yachts can make even the most optimistic person become bitter towards their cubicle. But in reality, most of us are just trying to make ends meet while figuring out what we want to do with our lives.

No matter what job you have, you are going to have some bad days – it’s a part of life. But if you find that your bad days are starting to outweigh your good ones in a job that you are intent on keeping, it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate your outlook in regards to your job.

Here are five things you can do to help you have a more positive attitude in a difficult work environment.

1. Start your day right

The way you handle your first hour awake sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you find yourself racing out of bed to get to work every morning without setting aside time to mentally, emotionally and physically prepare yourself for the day, your attitude at work will most likely reflect that. Here are a few things I do on the mornings when I know my work day is going to be stressful:

  • Wake up at a time that will not force me to rush out the door
  • Pray/Meditate for 10 minutes before breakfast to get myself in the right mindset
  • Eat a solid breakfast and have my morning coffee
  • Listen to good tunes on the way to work
  • Engage in positive and uplifting self talk on my commute (Instead of, ‘Today’s going to be so stressful!’, saying something like, ‘I’m going to kill it today!’)

2. Find meaning in your work

You were hired to contribute something meaningful to the company you work for. Even if you’re not necessarily passionate about your job, trying to find unique ways to add value that are outside of your job description can help you stay motivated and feel purpose driven in your work.

For example: Do you work at a drive through and have the opportunity to interact with customers all day? Imagine if your smiling face and kind attitude gives the person you’re serving the boost they need to get them through lunch. Choosing to find a purposeful way to go above and beyond can make even the most negative of environments feel more like a challenge to overcome rather than a cross to bear.

3. Have a life outside of work

There’s nothing worse then going into a job you don’t like and then coming home to a life you like even less. If you are in a negative work environment, do everything you can to make sure you have something outside of work that you can look forward to. AKA:

Whether that be a hobby, a side project, or a great community (or all three!), these extracurriculars will provide a ray of positivity even into the worst of your work days because you’ll know that you have something to look forward to when you leave the office.

4. Set goals and rewards for yourself

Whether you are a janitor or a CEO, every job comes with goals that must be met in order to be successful. When work gets stressful or overwhelming, it can be easy to lose track of these goals and get caught up in the challenges you’re facing on the day to day. One way to break out of the cycle of negativity is to set small, achievable goals for yourself that will allow you to feel like you are accomplishing something on a regular basis. Even if one of those goals is to not blow up at your coworker that day or be respectful to your boss, by fulfilling a parameter you’ve set for yourself that contributes to your success in your position, you will feel more positive about your performance and hopeful about your future in your job.

5. Focus on the good

This one is harder said than done, but the best way to remain positive in your position is to focus on the positive aspects of your job. It’s so easy to obsess over the things that are going wrong or parts of your job that you wish were different, but this will do the opposite of help you fix the problems; it will make them seem all consuming and leave you with little hope that things can change. When you focus on the positive aspects of your job while systematically creating strategies on how to change the negative aspects, you empower yourself to feel in control of your own destiny and give yourself permission to hope. This approach is all about controlling your thoughts and choosing not to be mastered by your emotions.

Life is not easy and no matter what job you have, you are going to have bad days. Working somewhere that creates stress or is less than your ideal is never fun, but the power to alter your work experience by changing your attitude, is in your hands. When you choose to focus on the good over the bad every day, you are actively fighting for yourself and your own happiness. Once you have developed the ‘mental muscles’ to take control of your thoughts and attitude, you will find that no matter what situation you are in, whether in your work life or personal life, you can figure out a way to remain positive. 

Originally published January 13th, 2018 on bevalyouable.com