“Most of us are familiar with the terms “economic capital” or “human capital”. But, have you considered the notion of “psychological capital” and how it relates to your work life? Researchers studying the application of Positive Psychology to the workplace have carefully considered this idea — as a growing body of evidence demonstrates that a positive mindset can not only affect our attitudes toward work, but the outcomes which follow. Indeed, the “psychological capital” that we bring to the table, can have a significant impact upon work and career.”
The quote above was written by Dr. Marla Gottschalk, an industrial/organizational psychologist in an article posted on Linkedin. She talks about a new term called PsyCap. It evolved through the research being done in regard to applying a positive attitude to the workplace. Remaining positive is one of the hard things you need to do to be successful.
PsyCap includes four personal and psychological resources referred to as “HERO.”
- Hope—the belief in one’s ability to persevere toward chosen goals and being able to find the method or pathway to reach them.
- Efficacy—having the confidence of having the effort required
- Resilience—having the ability to recover from difficulties or failures along the way
- Optimism—having an overall positive view of one’s work and the potential for success
How does an individual develop this positive outlook? One important aspect of PsyCap is that it a part of everyone’s makeup that can be developed and strengthened over time. It is not static. What has to become a regular part of life, in all areas, is the ability to be aware of small successes. Too often, only the negative events are seen and remembered. This is because they often carry a heavier punch when they occur.
Most individuals seek success and expect happiness to follow. Dr. Gottshcalk states that happiness needs to come first and that success will follow. Her argument is:
Happiness increases the release of dopamine within the brain – which can activate our learning centers – helping us to absorb the information around us. We learn more and work more effectively, bringing us closer to realize our potential.
She refers to a TED talk by Shaun Achor that goes into detail regarding positive psychology and its effect on being able to bring happiness into the workplace. Achor is an educator and speaker of positive psychology. He has received multiple teaching awards at Harvard University and does research with both Yale and Columbia University. His site GoodThinkInc shares his research. He has also authored the book, The Happiness Advantage.
One point made by Achor, is the need to keep that goal in the same place, not to move it further and further away. Happiness must be kept in the here and now, not in the distant future. Too often, when disappointments occur, the negative feelings take hold and block the individual’s ability to move forward.
Points that help keep positivity alive include:
- Remaining in the present—step away from past negative events
- Acknowledge even small successes—they are the means for reaching that big one
- Reward performance—especially if a manager
- Show gratitude—saying “Good job” or “Thank you” goes a long way
You will notice, that your positivity may be contagious. Backing away from office negativity is a major move forward. Showing your gratitude and giving a ‘thumbs up’ to a peer for work well done, may come back at a time you need the same.
If you have a comment or question I would be happy to discuss.
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