Every week we finish our company meetings with a reflection from one of our team members.  This week our Director of Product, Saba Mirzaagha, shared his reflection on the power of positive thinking in the workplace. He shared the studies of social phsychologist Barbera Fredrickson who shares this story to explain the difference in outcome between positive and negative thinking... 

Two shoe salesmen were sent to a location to see if there was a market for their product.

The first salesman reported back, “This is a terrible business opportunity, no-one wears shoes.”

The second salesman reported back, “This is a fantastic business opportunity, no-one wears shoes.”

Researchers have long known that negative emotions program your brain to approach problems with a negative outlook. When you approach a problem with positivity you tend to open your mind to a lot of solutions.

Fredrickson tested the impact of positive emotions on the brain by setting up a little experiment. She split individuals into five groups.

The first two groups were shown clips that created positive emotions.Group 1 saw images that created feelings of joy. Group 2 saw images that created feelings of contentment.

Group 3 was the control group. They saw images that were neutral and produced no significant emotion.

The last two groups were shown clips that created negative emotions. Group 4 saw images that created feelings of fear. Group 5 saw images that created feelings of anger.

Afterward, each participant was asked to imagine themselves in a situation where similar feelings would arise and to write down what they would do. Each participant was handed a piece of paper with 20 blank lines that started with the phrase, “I would like to...”

Participants who saw images of fear and anger wrote down the fewest responses. Meanwhile, the participants who saw images of joy and contentment, wrote down a significantly higher number of actions that they would take, even when compared to the neutral group.

In other words, when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. These findings were among the first that suggested positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.

When we apply this theory to our work and begin to re-frame our brains to think more positively, we will be more apt to come up with multiple sets of solutions to any given circumstance.