Don’t Knock It ‘Til You’ve Tried It: Optimism in the Workplace

Are you having a bad day? Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed? Maybe a frown has been occupying your face for most of the day–and you’re not even sure why.

The bad news: You might be a pessimist. The good news: You can do something about it.

Why should you care? If this is your normal state of mind at work, you may be suffering from low productivity levels, ruining your chances of advancement, and dragging your co-workers down with you.

Plenty of research suggests that a positive outlook is associated with greater cognitive effort, more complex problem solving and better negotiating skills. In the workplace, positive thinking has been related to superior job performance, better managerial decision making and leadership ability. A positive attitude at work can mean the difference between success and failure for you, or for your organization.

Do You Know This Guy?

Optimists are more productive, spend less time wallowing in their own misery, complaining about the boss, the workload, the client, the weather, their arthritis, a hangnail, other employees, how slow the time is going, how fast the time is going, how bad things are, how unfair life is, and so on. But if you work with a wallowing, complaining pessimist, you know how they can undermine and corrupt office morale and culture with their negativity and contention. And you don’t want to be that guy, either.

So how can you make sure you’re facing your workday with a positive attitude? Sometimes it seems like our world, and therefore all of its media outlets, are full of bad news.

Wars, the economy, criminal misdeeds, corporate scandals and political mudslinging… it’s easy to think that the world is a lousy place.

Well, positive, uplifting stories do exist–you just have to know where to find them.

Check out these websites. They may help renew your faith in the goodness of the human experience. At the very least, they can help you start each day with a smile and an attitude that will lead to success.

1. Happy News (

Coffee has been linked to a lower risk of cancer. There are at least eleven well-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree. And apparently, there is some good news about the job market for a change.

Had you heard? Probably not. Stories like these are often lost in the onslaught of sad/threatening/depressing/violent news that saturates the media. But Happy News’ credo says it all: “We believe virtue, goodwill and heroism are hot news. That’s why we bring you up-to-the-minute news, geared to lift spirits and inspire lives.” And their slogan: Real News. Compelling Stories. Always Positive.

2. Gives Me Hope (

Gives Me Hope (GMH) offers user-submitted true stories of kindness and generosity. The stories are sentimental and sometimes almost heartbreakingly sweet. Their slogan? “Life is Beautiful Today!” So when it seems like nothing is going right–you’re coming up on a deadline that you know you’re going to miss, you lost an important file on your network or you missed your train and are going to be late again–these stories can show you how to regain your optimism (and your equilibrium).

3. 1000 Awesome Things (

1000 Awesome Things started life as a blog, updated every weekday for nearly four years, which highlighted the little things in life that everyone can appreciate. While author Neil Pasricha published his 1000th and final post on April 19, 2012, the blog lives on–in fact, the posts are being run again, in order. These short posts will remind you that even the smallest things, like “#936 – Perfect parallel-parking on the first try” or “#572 – Learning a new keyboard shortcut” are a reason to smile. Getting a renewed attitude toward your life and your work? AWESOME.

4. Christian the Lion (

OK, so this isn’t a website. But the story and accompanying video are remarkable. They’ll really make you think.

The back story: In 1969, two young men stumbled across a lion cub for sale at Harrod’s, of all places. They brought him home, named him Christian and raised him in their London flat. Several years later, they set the lion free to live in the wilds of Africa.

A year later, against the advice of experts, the pair decided to locate Christian. They traveled to Kenya to find him, and their reunion was recorded on film. It’s amazing to watch–truly inspirational.

5. ZooBorns (

Already know about the The Daily Puppy and the LOL cats at ICanHazCheezburger? Well, if nothing gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling like pictures of baby animals, this site is an ongoing collection of animal births at zoos and aquariums around the world. Marvel at nature in its infinite–and usually adorable–variety, and discover a renewed attitude toward work.

6. Good News Network (

Founded by a former television producer, Good News Network (GNN) says its mission is to provide readers with a “daily dose of news to enthuse.” The Good News Network is a clearinghouse for the gathering and dissemination of positive, compelling news stories from around the globe. The most popular stories are free; if you like what you read on the free page, you can purchase a paid subscription. Consider it an investment in your career.

7. Gimundo (

Have you heard about the new type of cruise control that can cut your commute in half? Would you like to give more to charity without spending a dime? Good news and positive stories are served up daily at Gimundo, free of charge. In fact, their slogan is Good News… Served Daily.