Research shows that being positive positions you for success. A defining study of positivity was done by social psychologist Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill that applies science to positivity. The study found that the biggest benefit of positivity is an enhanced openness and ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life.

In an article entitled “How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills, Boosts Your Health, and Improves Your Work,” author James Clear explains that everyone has had an adrenalin rush when they see danger approaching. Negative emotions like fear and anger are released and our minds focus immediately on the situation and the response. There is little planning or thought. This survival response is innate — it’s part of our DNA and goes back thousands of years. The problem is that we often have this same response in our daily lives in our modern world. Outsized responses to negative thoughts alter our mood and our day, plus they negatively affect those around us.

James Clear explains that how we react to negative influences or triggers can be a choice if you let it. If you get up in the morning and decide to face the day with a positive outlook, it will likely propel you forward throughout a positive day. On the other hand, if you decide to be negative — and it is a decision — you’re likely to have a much less productive day, and you’ll also be a drag on others.

As managing partner at GHJ, I’m committed to building an environment that understands and recognizes positivity in the workplace. How people show up for work and interact with each other is a critical component of our success.

For example, if you have a team of four people who bring positive energy and can-do attitudes to a project, your team will be productive and enjoy the work. Now let’s say you have a team of four people, but one of them is negative. It seems logical to say that that would leave you with three productive people, but unfortunately, it most often leaves you with zero productivity and sometimes less than zero. Negativity can kill the process, and research supports this theory.

In the field of positive psychology, studies have examined how working in a positive organizational culture can potentially enhance productivity and human capital. These studies on Positive Organizational Behavior (POB) suggest that fostering traits such as confidence, optimism, hope and happiness offer very impressive behavioral outcomes and also lead to a happier and more productive workplace.

Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr, Eugenio Proto and Dr. Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick even published a study in 2014 on happiness and productivity that showed how happiness made people 12 percent more productive.

There are steps we can all take to build positivity and happiness, both in and outside of the workplace. For me, positivity and happiness comes from helping others, and I have made giving back to the community a large part of our culture at GHJ. This emphasis on volunteering helps our employees feel a part of something positive that is bigger than themselves.

Additionally, we also have formed a Great Places to Work Committee that addresses ways we can bring happiness and positivity into our work environment and finds ways to make sure our staff feels appreciated and enjoys coming to the office each day.

In the end, positivity is a decision we must all make each morning and something we share with everyone we come in contact with – especially our employees. Concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl said it beautifully: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

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Leon Janks

Leon Janks, CPA, has more than 50 years of experience in the areas of audit and accounting, tax planning and general business consulting. He advises his clients on matters related to strategic planning, profitability, mergers and acquisitions, and buying and selling businesses. Leon serves clients…Learn More