The Wall Street Journal has gone New Age. Or maybe Wall Street is finally just catching up with the wisdom of our grandparents. In a January 26, 2010 article, the Journal reported that business is embracing the positive psychology movement, which focuses on “instilling resiliency and positive attitudes” in lieu of traditional psychology, which can focus on the negative side of human behavior such as mental illness.
Research supports the positive impact of positive attitudes: “teams with buoyant moods who encouraged, earned higher profit and better customer-satisfaction ratings …. (and) people who are experiencing joy or contentment are able to think more broadly and creatively, accepting a wider variety of possible actions… (and) happier people miss work less often and receive more positive evaluations from bosses.”
While a focus on the positive has always been a mainstay, what currently is in vogue is “the emphasis on inner happiness, and controlling your own mood in the face of turbulence or misfortune.”
“If I assume a negative attitude and complain all the time, whoever is working with me is going to feel the same way,” remarked one physician who attended a positive psychology lecture.
“Good thing, bad thing? The reality is, I don’t know how the change will turn out in the long term,” said a corporate real-estate executive. Practicing the positive psychology mindset allowed him to stay “open to the possibility that seemingly negative events can produce positive outcomes in the long term.”
Specific techniques recommended by positive psychology include:
– Write e-mails to your co-workers every day thanking them for something they have done.
– Meditate daily to clear your mind.
– Do something for somebody without expecting anything in return.
– Write in a journal about things you are thankful for.
– Look for traits you admire in people and compliment them.
– Focus on the process of your work, which you can control, rather than outcomes, which you can’t.
– Don’t immediately label events good or bad, but remain open to potentially positive outcomes of even the most seemingly negative events.
Or as the old song goes, “Smile and the whole world smiles with you.”