Key Points:

You spend so much time at work it makes sense that it should be enjoyable and satisfying.

But when you work alongside someone who's got the blues, you get dragged down and soon work becomes something you don't enjoy. Nobody wants to be the person who does that.

But bringing a negative attitude to work doesn't just harm your colleagues, it also harms the very business that pays you.

Psychologist and motivation expert Martin Seligman's research shows that businesses with the best emotional environments also have the highest profit and customer satisfaction. In those high-performing businesses, people are also much more positive when talking with colleagues.

Most of us think we can't change our negative attitude, but we have a lot more control than we realise.

Seligman has described the moment he realised just how important it was to decide what attitude to have - and then have it.

"This took place in my garden while I was weeding with my 5-year-old daughter, Nikki," he wrote.

"When I'm weeding in the garden, I'm actually trying to get the weeding done. Nikki, however, was throwing weeds into the air and dancing around. I yelled at her. She walked away, came back, and said, 'Daddy, I want to talk to you'.

"'Yes, Nikki?'

"'Daddy, do you remember before my fifth birthday? From the time I was 3 to the time I was 5, I was a whiner. I whined every day. When I turned 5, I decided not to whine anymore. That was the hardest thing I've ever done. And if I can stop whining, you can stop being such a grouch."'

Nikki took responsibility for her attitude, while many of us act as if other people have remote controls for ours. If you want a better attitude this year, take back all those emotional remote controls you handed out, and be careful who you give them to in future.

A lot of people think if they are upset by what someone said about them, the other person created that negative feeling. But what if they had no intention of upsetting you? How did the upset occur? It actually started in your own thoughts.

So add another resolution to this year's list. "I resolve to check out people's intentions before telling myself they've upset me." You are now set for a much more positive time not just at work, but everywhere.

Having a positive attitude is mainly a matter of how you think about things going on around you.

Sometimes, rather than changing your attitude, you might decide to change your job. But never make a move when you are in a down mood, because things probably aren't as bad as they seem.

When you are down, you use huge amounts of energy just to get by.

Your ability to think creatively and come up with positive solutions to workplace challenges is severely handicapped.

There is a flip side to every bad attitude. Take a good look at your thoughts and be ruthlessly honest. Thoughts are free and there are millions to choose from.

So the next time you find yourself being unnecessarily negative about work, remind yourself you had a "bad thought attack" and choose some new options.

Whether you are at work or at home the same principles apply:

* A thought is only a thought - you can have a better one.

* A mood is only a mood - you can have a better one.

* An emotion is only an emotion - you can have a better one. Those points will help you improve your attitude about work.

Remind yourself that emotions and thoughts are a bit like the weather, they come and go.

So ditch the negative ones, and choose ones that will help you.

"DIRTY DOZEN" THOUGHTS

1. Whatever I do I must do it well. (Says what rule book?)

2. There should be a perfect solution for every problem and it's terrible if I can't find it. (No it's not.)

3. I must have the approval and acceptance of certain people. (Why?)

4. I am worthless if I fail. (Oh, get over yourself.)

5. People and situations should be the way I want them to be. (Says who?)

6. Life should be fair. (Tough - it isn't.)

7. I can't stand difficult people or bad situations. (Only because you choose not to.)

8. I must achieve or produce approval to be worthwhile. (Says who?)

9. When things go wrong, I can't help getting upset. (Yes you can. You just choose not to.)

10. Life should not be so hard. (Tough - it is.)

11. I can't change the way I react, that's the way I am. (Yes, you can.)

12. It's terrible when things go wrong. (Only because you decide it is.)

POSITIVE STEPS

1. For every negative comment you make, make three positive comments.

2. Use the PIN Rule: Before saying something negative you must say something positive and interesting about the topic.

- By Jamie Ford, director, The Foresight Institute. www.foresight.co.nz