Fight Cynicism; Choose Optimism.

by Scott Crabtree

Do performance reviews, goal setting, and change at work make you feel cynical? You’re not alone. And for some of us, the state of the world lately can increase our cynicism as well. Even if you don’t start off cynical, being surrounded by cynics may lower your outlook.

But letting yourself become cynical may be hazardous for your health! The science is clear: cynicism can be bad for your health, even increasing the risk of dementia! Cynicism lowers mood, dropping overall well-being. In numerous studies, unhappiness or low well-being is linked to lower immune system effectiveness and lower overall health. Unhappy people show up in emergency rooms more often and show up at work less often. Optimism, on the other hand, is associated with higher levels of happiness and health.

Be actively optimistic.  

To counteract cynicism, scientists recommend being “actively optimistic”. This means working to overcome our natural human “negativity bias”, paying attention to the positive, and expecting the best. How you can best do this will vary from person to person because we are all unique. According to the scientific data, these three techniques may work well for most of us:

1. Write down your best possible future. When you write down your best possible future at work, you raise your optimism, which boosts happiness, which in turn boosts overall health. The word possible is important because unattainable plans don’t boost mood. If you write down that you will be quarterback of three different NFL teams in 2017, that little fantasy is unlikely to bring you real optimism!

2. Smile more and say hello often; practice the 10-5 rule. Being friendly and connected with others is a great way to boost mood, and therefore reduce cynicism. To do this, smile at each person you walk within 10 feet of you and say a nice greeting to each person who comes within 5 feet of you. You might feel awkward at first; try this for a full work day and see how your mood is affected.

3. Surprise others with kindness. It’s almost impossible to be generous and cynical at the same time. So try performing some random acts of kindness: leave the change in a vending machine, leave an anonymous note of encouragement, share your lunch or snacks with a hungry friend, or pay for the person behind you in line; get creative with your kindness!

Share: How do you choose optimism over cynicism? 

We always appreciate your comments, feedback, questions and insights! Have you found ways to boost optimism while decreasing cynicism? How else do you practice positivity at work? Simply comment on this blog or our Facebook page, or tweet to @ScottCrab so others can learn from you as well.

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