How to Stay Positive at Work

Chronic negativity takes not only an emotional toll but a physical one as well. Check out these corporate life pictures to learn more!
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There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who, invited into the boss's office out of the blue, cross their fingers they're getting a raise; and those who, invited into the boss's office out of the blue, start packing up their things.

It's no stretch to say the finger-crossed employee is having a better time at work. Optimists in general tend to live happier, healthier lives; in work terms, that often means less stress, a greater sense of fulfillment and value, increased productivity and success, and fewer days lost to the common cold [source: Mayo].

Chronic negativity, for reasons not entirely settled upon by researchers, affects not only emotional but also physical wellness. Maybe it's the cortisol, or "stress hormone," wreaking more havoc on the body. Maybe it's the depression, anxiety and substance abuse that tend to appear more frequently in pessimistic thinkers [source: Mayo].

Difficulties staying positive in the workplace, whether due to possible layoffs or the loss of a big account, or even an atmosphere of gossip and political maneuvering, are more common than ever. In a 2010 survey by the Conference Board, a business trade organization, only 45 percent of U.S. workers said they were satisfied at work, continuing a steady decrease since the organization starting counting in 1987, when job satisfaction was at 61 percent [source: Shellenbarger].

The solution to workplace distress? In most cases, it's simple: Become an optimist.

Which, of course, isn't simple at all and may in fact be one of the toughest psychological adjustments a person can make. Positive and negative outlooks can be very well-ingrained, to the point of seeming instinctive. But they're not. They're habits. And habits can be changed.

Staying positive in a difficult work situation requires focusing on those issues that are fully within one's control. It's an internal pursuit, and it starts here: What, specifically, is bothering you?