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Commentary: Contagiously Optimistic

Posted on 2.03.2014

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” That famous quote from President Abraham Lincoln is the premise of many self-help books that fuel a multi-million dollar market.

The reason is that many of us whole-heartedly believe in the power of positive thinking — that if we sincerely believe something will happen it will and that no matter how stormy it is today, the sun will come out tomorrow. Optimism, however, is often not a principle we live our daily lives by, so we turn to authors — strangers really — to figure out how to view the glass fuller, more often.

Why can’t we trust ourselves to continually produce positive thoughts or be a positive presence for ourselves and for those around us? In short, we are products of our environments.

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Website Magazine readers, especially those who work in offices, are all too familiar with workplace illnesses. It’s inevitable that if one person in an office gets a cold or the flu, many of their coworkers will too. After all, they work in the same space for roughly 40 hours a week, touching the same door handles, using the same water cooler and sharing circulated air. Like sickness, isn’t it possible that our lack of optimism is contagious too?

In the number one New York Times bestseller, “E2, Nine Do-It-Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality,” author Pam Grout talks about how we are all energy. We mold and shape this energy with our thoughts, intentions and actions. How we feel, think and believe affects our energy flows. This affects how we “vibrate” in the world.

What’s most interesting is that Grout writes, “We always attract our vibrational match. We are the initiators of the vibrations, and therefore the ‘magnets’ or the cause.” Grout continues that “there is no you or them.”

We are all connected and therefore we, each one of us, needs to be the change. We need to be optimistic before those around us can be optimistic. This month’s featured article, “Everyday Digital Optimization” discusses treating optimization, making something better than it was yesterday, as a daily task. Before we can get our minds around making everyday improvements in our organizations, however, we need to start with our negativity-loving selves. Here are a few suggestions to, well, turn that frown upside down.

Smile: Smiling releases dopamine, which makes us feel good. Try smiling while sending an email or walk into every meeting flashing those pearly whites (bringing doughnuts may help too) and the recipients will likely respond positively.

Change Your Language: Strike “need to” and “try to” from your vocabulary immediately. Say, for example, you have a report due that needs to be worked on over the weekend. Rather than saying, “I need to work on this report,” change the language in your head to, “I want to work on this report, because I want to be recognized, rewarded, etc.” The phrase, “try to” works in the same way. By saying, “I will try to,” you are already admitting defeat. Change this overused phrase to something more positive like, “I will” and you’ll be on your way to saying, “I did.”

Know It’s You, Not Them: If work is hectic, a project isn’t going as planned or everyone seems like they’re in sour moods, take a break and reflect. Can you be a calmer presence, are you actually the one dropping the ball and is it you who is really in a bad mood?

As Internet professionals, many of whom work in complex or multi-tasking environments, we can all do our part to bring positive “vibrations” to the world around us and be contagiously optimistic.


About the Author: Amberly Dressler is the Managing Editor of Website Magazine where she brings 8 years of journalism and marketing experience as well as practices and preaches new media’s tips and trends.

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