I think we can all agree that 2020 was, well, extremely challenging. Many of us lost loved ones, jobs, our savings, and/or our health. We endured lockdowns, social distancing, and the necessity of wearing masks outside of our homes. We worked remotely and supported our children as they have attended school online. I don’t know of anyone the world over who hasn’t been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in some way. It has been a tragedy on a global scale.
Now, however, we are turning the page to a new year. We are beginning to look at 2020 in hindsight (pun somewhat intended). 2021 has promises of an effective COVID-19 vaccine, Congress has finally passed much-needed legislation to provide relief to businesses and individuals alike, and in the U.S. we are about to swear in a new administration. And while it’s not yet the time to plan the blowout party with all of our family and friends that we’re eagerly looking forward to, it feels like perhaps we can begin to breathe easier.
After a year of such extreme circumstances, the importance of bringing positivity to the new year is all the more valuable.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Positive thinking often starts with self-talk. Self-talk is the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self-talk comes from logic and reason. Other self-talk may arise from misconceptions that you create because of lack of information.
“If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is more likely pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist — someone who practices positive thinking.”
Benefits of Positive Thinking
Research shows that positive thinking can have measurable effects on your health and wellbeing. The Mayo Clinic states that some of the shown benefits include:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of distress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
A study at Johns Hopkins found that “People with a family history of heart disease who also had a positive outlook were one-third less likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular event within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.”
Positivity at Work
Positivity isn’t merely for better health, it also means good things for businesses that create a positive atmosphere at work.
According to the Harvard Business Review, workplace wellness boils down to six essential characteristics:
- Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
- Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
- Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
- Inspiring one another at work.
- Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
- Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity.
When leaders of an organization are committed to a healthy, positive environment, based on kindness and generosity, that tone is set for the entire organization. Positive work environments can result in employees having improved health and stronger immune systems, which, in turn, fosters loyalty, increases performance, and boosts workplace morale.
This kind of engagement doesn’t require a grand overhaul of how work is conducted. But, by fostering social engagements outside of work, showing empathy and helpfulness toward employees, and being willing to truly listen when problems do arise, business owners and leaders can go a long way in creating the kind of work environment that people dream of.
In 2021, as we slowly begin to see the end of this pandemic, creating positivity in our home lives and our work lives will go a long way to turning the tide of negativity that 2020 wrought. Therefore, my hope is that you will go out and shine your light in all the dark corners of your world and watch how it fosters positivity that will surround you for years to come.