When someone tells you to have a “positive attitude” about life, chances are probably pretty good that no matter your level (or lack of) optimism, you dismiss it as another cliche, easy thing to say to someone who is facing some kind of stress or having a bad day. But next time, you might want to pay attention, as there have been recent studies that show the almost unbelievable power of staying positive, even in tough times.

This power of positivity can translate directly to the workplace. Whether you’re a 9-5 worker drone, or in management, it behooves you to start spreading that positive mindset to your colleagues and employees. How?

positive thinkingA recent study performed by highly-respected University of North Carolina Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson showed that without a doubt during an experiment involving three groups of people which were shown positive, negative, and neutral images, respectively, and the ones who saw only positive images were much more likely to be open to the most possibilities and generated the most ideas. Imagine what that could do for your work environment?

Few places of employment can honestly say that troop morale is consistently high. But just think – what if everyone in the office spent just one measly day thinking positive thoughts? What could come of it? Many companies are already sending employees to day-long “positivity training” because those who run these companies have recently learned just how much productivity can be boosted by keeping things positive.

Here’s a short list of amazing things that can happen when your employees and leadership carry a positive attitude:

  • Positive, optimistic sales people sell more than pessimistic sales people.

  • Positive work environments outperform negative work environments.

  • Positive and popular leaders are more likely to garner the support of others and receive pay raises and promotions and achieve greater success in the workplace.

  • Positive leaders are able to make better decisions under pressure.

How to get to a positive mindset?

This may sound like the most difficult part, but really, it’s not. Even if you’re a generally negative or neutral person, there is always a path to positivity. All the tools are in front of you. You just need to know how to identify and use them. Let me give you a few examples.

1. I love this recommendation to start your path to being positive – tap into your “social network”, no, not Facebook or Twitter. We’re going old school and talking about the true meaning of the phrase. Your friends, your family, your partner – the people in your life that will always be there and will tell you everything is going to be alright. If you’ve lost touch with them, reconnect – you never know how one simple phone call or coffee break with one of your “people” can change the course of your day, week or month. With technology taking over most aspects of our lives, it’s really quite refreshing to get back to the basics.

2. Did you know that it’s actually possible to write yourself into a positive mindset? Yes! There was a study recently published in the Journal of Research of Personality which proved that a set of people who wrote positive thoughts for three consecutive days actually experienced fewer illnesses and better mood levels compared to those who wrote neutral thoughts for the same time period. This is astonishing!

3. Drop the negative. This is a painfully obvious way to become more positive, but is worth mentioning, because it’s probably the most important way to get there. If you have negative people in your life – it’s time to make tough decisions and distance yourself from them – like for good. Negativity attracts negativity – and the same can easily be said for positivity. Also, eliminating negative behaviors is equally important – like poor eating choices and other bad habits that quickly take you on a trip to negative town.

4. Think positive. Ok – before you call me lame, listen up. One of the easiest (and proven) ways to get into a positive mindset very quickly is to think positive! Duh? Seriously, make a list of truly happen moments or events in your life…the ones that make you smile just thinking about them, and keep it with you. Whenever you need to get on the positivity train, look at your list. I’ll bet you money that you’ll crack a smile and instantly change your mood. Works every time!

5. Sleep your way to positivity. Yes, really! Getting enough quality sleep at night is of critical importance to your mental health for the next day. Find ways to relax yourself into a deep, restoring sleep. This can include meditation, a hot bath, exercising, keeping it dark, and listening to soothing, natural sounds. Try it for a week and see how you feel – you can thank me later.

Bottom line, folks: Almost everyone could use an occasional refresher course on how to stay positive. This is going to benefit you, your family, your workplace, and everyone else around you. Most experts will agree that we still have no idea how powerful our minds really are, and how attitudes and thoughts can alter the course of our entire lives. It’s truly fascinating stuff and along with many others, I’ll be extremely interested to see how research in this field develops over the next 10-20 years.