13 Ways To Stay Positive at Work

June 18, 2019

As an HR professional, you’re always in a good mood, spreading cheer wherever you go. Wait—what’s that? You’re not always in a good mood? Sometimes you just wanna squeeze a stress ball until it explodes?

No one can stay positive at work 100% of the time, of course. But in HR, your attitude is contagious—because you interact with everyone from the executive team to the newest hire, your good or bad moods can affect your entire organization. It’s important for you and your team to set the right example and maintain a positive attitude in the workplace as often as possible. Doing so can help your whole team perform better, not to mention there are many physical and mental benefits as well. With that in mind, here are 13 ideas for how to stay positive at work:

1. Develop a solid morning routine.

You don’t have to be a morning person to get the day off to a good start. You may not want to go jogging for an hour while listening to upbeat music or cook a large three-course breakfast before work, and that’s okay. Maybe the routine that works for you is a warm shower, Pop Tarts, and a favorite podcast. Whatever puts you in a good mood, do that thing every day. At the same time, try cutting out morning habits that cause stress or set the wrong tone for the day—like checking your phone as soon as you wake up. Weed out the negative and replace it with the positive to make your morning routine serve you.

Health and positivity are related, so the more you take care of your body, the better you’ll feel mentally too.

2. Practice gratitude.

Whether you keep a gratitude journal or make a point to acknowledge things you’re thankful for each day, staying positive at work is easier when you lead with gratitude. Try expressing it verbally on a regular basis or performing random acts of kindness to pay it forward. You’ll feel good about yourself and others (and you just might live a little longer).

3. Live healthy.

Make your health a priority. Exercise regularly, and couple that exercise with relaxation and meditation. Among regular exercises, make sure to smile and laugh as often as possible. As with most exercises, you may not be in the mood to do either sometimes, but the more you smile and laugh, the better you’ll be at it (and the better you’ll feel). Also, maintain a healthy diet, stay properly hydrated, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Health and positivity are related, so the more you take care of your body, the better you’ll feel mentally too.

4. Celebrate often.

You don’t have to organize a party every day, but recognizing the excellent performance of your coworkers and celebrating their successes (big and small) can help everyone stay more positive at work. And this recognition doesn’t have to be expensive: While bonuses and raises remain the preferred form of reward and recognition, 25 percent of employees said they would be happiest with a simple “thank you.” When you begin to offer more frequent, sincere recognition, many people will respond in kind. Soon, your whole organization can embrace a culture of positivity and recognition that will carry them forward to the next success.

5. Keep learning.

Whether it be a new job skill or a personal interest, keep learning. Read good books. Pick up new hobbies. Try something that scares you. Positivity comes from appreciating all the world has to offer, and we may forget the world’s brilliance when we stop learning new things.

6. Take breaks.

It’s too bad people don’t actually come with batteries included. Because that way we would know when we absolutely must recharge. As it is, far too often we keep going until we’re burned out, at which point trying to stay positive at work (and everywhere else for that matter) is almost impossible. Take small breaks throughout your workday, and when you’re really lagging, go on a vacation. Giving yourself a chance to rest and recover will make you more productive and happier.

7. Maintain balance.

Make time for the most important people in your life, namely your family and loved ones. If your personal life is in order and you’re in healthy relationships outside of work, it’ll spill over to your job in a good way (and the opposite is also true). Never overlook the importance of a solid work-life balance.

8. Make your coworkers your friends.

It’s always easier to stay in a good mood among friends, so make your coworkers friends! As you’re developing friendships with coworkers, navigate towards positive people. Of course be friendly with everyone, but be careful not to spend too much time around those who are disgruntled or gossipy. They may start to wear off on you, steering you into a dead end of negativity.

Try following the SMART goals model so you can get into a steady flow of satisfying work and consistent achievement.

9. Decorate your workspace.

It’s a small thing, but if your desk is uncomfortable or sterile, it will affect you. Make your workspace your own. Whether that means it’s covered with family photos or Star Wars paraphernalia, you should surround yourself with the things that remind you to be happy and positive.

10. Set realistic goals.

If you’re setting realistic, achievable goals regularly, you’ll constantly feel accomplished. But if your goals aren’t realistic, you’ll always feel behind, like you’re failing. Unrealistic “stretch” goals may motivate you for a time, but eventually, they will lead to negative feelings and attitudes. Try following the SMART goals model so you can get into a steady flow of satisfying work and consistent achievement.

11. Focus on your strengths.

You were hired for your job because there are certain things you do really well. As much as possible, focus on those things, and keep your head up. From that place of confidence, you should select one or two weaknesses at a time to work on. Trying to tackle the whole list at once is a quick way to burn out, lose confidence, and become pessimistic. On the other hand, making small improvements over time as you lean on your strengths is a great way to stay positive.

12. Be creative.

Creating something—whether it be a piece of art or an innovative HR solution—brings personal satisfaction. And when you’re creating something that will improve your company, everyone is better off. Others will be grateful for you, you’ll be grateful for their accolades, they’ll be grateful for your gratitude, and so forth and so on. It’s a circle of goodness.

13. Find the positive.

One of our values here at BambooHR is “Assume the Best.” This means keeping a positive, optimistic outlook towards other people and things. When negative thoughts come, or people appear to be acting poorly, look for the positive. Assume that people are trying their best and want to work with you to find the best solution. You’ll be surprised how much good there is in every situation. Just look for it!

There is so much to like in this world. Now go spread some positivity!

Bryson Kearl

Bryson Kearl is a Copywriter for BambooHR. His role enables him to study HR's impact on organizations, and he is a diehard believer in the vital role HR plays in building company culture by making people the focus of all business efforts.