We’ve all heard of positive psychology. It’s been a buzzword for several years and more and more studies show how it can make a lasting difference in our relationships and the environment where those relationships exist.
I recently came across an article in US News & World Report about bringing positive psychology into the workplace. The article gives some good advice to businesses and their leaders on how to create a more positive workplace and build from current strengths. A few of the suggestions that the article elaborates on include:
- Showing gratitude
- Focusing on strengths
- Balancing negatives
- Practicing “flexible” thinking
- Acknowledging steps to success
- Supporting your team
All of these are clearly things that most of us want to do. In fact, it seems so common sense that frankly, it’s a bit absurd to have to point these facts out sometimes. However, in reality, it is easy to fall back on other, less productive strategies, pulling from our emotional state rather than that of rational.
We are all guilty of straying from our positive psychology side now and then – it’s very human. In fact, I’m reminded of it even within my own parenting efforts. After all, a relationship is a relationship, whether it is with a child, a friend, a spouse or a colleague.
I have a pretty good arsenal of positive psychology strategies to use with my seven-year-old son. And when I use them, I usually see pretty good results, too. For instance, by focusing on the problems my son does correctly on his math homework rather than the ones he got incorrect, I see a direct correlation with him wanting to get his homework done, and also in taking responsibility in getting more answers correct next time. And by acknowledging what a good helper my son has been for part of the day, it motivates him to help me more during the rest of the day. And the list goes on.
This same principle can be seen time and time again in many different environments. In the workplace, most of us will work a little harder when necessary if we feel our contributions are acknowledged and appreciated. Feeling appreciated equals motivation, which feeds confidence and often improves productivity. Easy right? Not so much, unfortunately.
Where it all falls apart – and this applies to our workplaces, too – is when we have a day or two or three when other factors such as stress, deadlines, pressure, etc. start to infringe on the really good positive framework that we have established. As creatures of habit, we quickly start to revert to our more primal ways – reacting negatively to situations, being emotional in our responses, and generally focusing on problems rather than solutions.
Whether it is in the workplace or at home, a setback often means you need to start all over again and usually with some baggage that must now be carried along as a result of emotional responses that were perhaps misguided or reactionary.
At the end of the day, we really do need to be reminded of these “common sense” principles that can so greatly influence our relationships and environment. Keeping a list of these handy can be especially helpful during stressful times and can help us recalibrate when feeling pulled into the emotional abyss. And sometimes just being reminded is enough to get us back on track. And that is progress.