The term ‘Positive Psychology’ is attributed to a chap by the name of Martin Seligman, who developed this particular branch of psychology in 1998 whilst a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The thinking behind this concept is to use small, yet significant interventions in an individual’s day-to-day thinking in order to create a more balanced, satisfied life. When applied to the business world, this can have astounding consequences.
What is Positive Psychology and What are the Benefits Behind it?
We’re all guilty of dramatising a diagnosis at one point or another, focussing on the negatives of a situation instead of the positives. Whether that’s travelling for two hours to find that your meeting is cancelled on arrival or that big piece of work you were expecting to pitch for this week has been put on hold for a month. The Power of Positive thinking aims to do the exact opposite of most people’s natural inclination - to see the positives these changes have afforded you rather than leap to the negatives.
In high performance sport, a positive mind set is credited with making a crucial 1% difference in achieving peak performance. Athletes have even reported reaching a mental state known as ‘flow’, whereby high levels of energy and concentration are complemented by intense enjoyment of the task. Using similar practices in a business environment has shown to create a much more autonomous workforce, reporting higher levels of job satisfaction. Additionally, positive emotions have shown to increase creativity, stress management and decision-making abilities.
Changing the Way You Think to a Positive Mindset
The easiest and quickest way to start utilising the power of positive thinking is to play to your strengths. Start turning your strengths into super-strengths rather than focusing on just improving your weaknesses which may just bring you up to everyone else’s average.
Think about how this can translate to actions across your workplace. For example, most companies’ performance management processes look at an individuals’ strengths and weaknesses and performance over the previous period and then look forward with a development plan where they look to address their weaknesses. Instead, if you are a leader of people, shift the focus to 90% looking at their key strengths and how they can be honed into super-strengths and only 10% addressing one key weakness/development area.
There are also some simple tasks you can use to start reformulating the way you, and your teams, think to begin harnessing the power of positive thinking. A great example of these can be found all over popular social media sites, such as the #100DaysOfHappy challenge on twitter. Those who chose to accept the challenge are required to find and publicise one thing (at least!) that made them happy that day. The aim of the challenge is that eventually these things, and this way of thinking will become habit, perhaps even innate. You could run a similar challenge internally in your company.
Does the Power of Positive Thinking Work?
Research says yes. Over 35 years of Gallup surveys have found that successful companies and individuals are the ones where employees believe they get to do what they do best every day. I.e. they play to their strengths. This is verses the stat that only a third of people actually play to their strengths.
The Secret to Positive Thinking: Sticking to Those Pesky Resolutions
So whether you’re trying to go to the gym every day, eat healthier, or hoping to create the positive environment you’ve always wanted, try harnessing the power of positive thinking! List the positives instead of the negatives. Search for an individual’s strengths instead of their weaknesses. Positive thinking leads to positive actions, which turn into positive habits which end up in positive results. Good luck.