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89 Ways to Achieve a Positive Mindset

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It is probably not a surprise to you that positivity is, inherently, at the center of positive psychology.

Table of Contents

Positivity doesn’t always refer to simply smiling and looking cheerful, however—positivity is more about one’s overall perspective on life and their tendency to focus on all that is good in life.

In this piece, we’ll cover the basics of positivity within positive psychology, identify some of the many benefits of approaching life from a positive point of view, and explore some tips and techniques for cultivating a positive mindset.

This piece is a long one, so settle in and get comfortable. Let’s get started.

What is a Positive Mindset and Attitude? A Definition

You probably have an idea of what a positive mindset or positive attitude is already, but it’s always helpful to start with a definition.

This definition from Remez Sasson (n.d.) is a good general description:

“Positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results.”

Another, more comprehensive definition comes from Kendra Cherry at Very Well Mind (2017B):

“[P]ositive thinking actually means approaching life’s challenges with a positive outlook. It does not necessarily mean avoiding or ignoring the bad things; instead, it involves making the most of the potentially bad situations, trying to see the best in other people, and viewing yourself and your abilities in a positive light.”

We can extrapolate from these definitions and come up with a good description of a positive mindset as the tendency to focus on the bright side, expect positive results, and approach challenges with a positive outlook.

Having a positive mindset means making positive thinking a habit, continually searching for the silver lining and making the best out of any situation you find yourself in.

6 Examples of Characteristics and Traits of a Positive Mindset

So, now we know what a positive mindset is, we can dive into the next important question: What does it look like?

There are many traits and characteristics associated with a positive mindset, including:

  • Optimism: a willingness to make an effort and take a chance instead of assuming your efforts won’t pay off.
  • Acceptance: acknowledging that things don’t always turn out how you want them to, but learning from your mistakes.
  • Resilience: bouncing back from adversity, disappointment, and failure instead of giving up.
  • Gratitude: actively, continuously appreciating the good things in your life (Blank, 2017).
  • Consciousness/Mindfulness: dedicating the mind to conscious awareness and enhancing the ability to focus.
  • Integrity: the trait of being honorable, righteous, and straightforward, instead of deceitful and self-serving (Power of Positivity, n.d.).

Not only are these characteristics of a positive mindset, but they may also work in the other direction—actively adopting optimism, acceptance, resilience, gratitude, mindfulness, and integrity in your life will help you develop and maintain a positive mindset.

A List of Positive Attitudes

If you found the list above still too vague, there are many more specific examples of a positive attitude in action.

For example, positive attitudes can include:

  • It is looking adversity in the eye… and laughing.
  • Getting what you get, and not pitching a fit.
  • Enjoying the unexpected, even when it’s not what you wanted originally.
  • Motivating those around you with a positive word.
  • Using the power of a smile to reverse the tone of a situation.
  • Being friendly to those you don’t know.
  • It’s getting back up when you fall down. (No matter how many times you fall down.)
  • Being a source of energy that lifts those around you.
  • Understanding that relationships are more important than material things.
  • Being happy even when you have little.
  • Having a good time even when you are losing.
  • Being happy for someone else’s success.
  • Having a positive future vision, no matter how bad your current circumstances.
  • Smiling.
  • Paying a compliment, even to a total stranger.
  • Tell someone you know that they did a great job. (And mean it.)
  • Making someone’s day. (Not just a child’s… adult’s like to have their day be special, too!)
  • It’s not complaining no matter how unfair things appear to be. (It is a waste of time… instead, do something!)
  • Not letting other people’s negativity bring you down.
  • Giving more than you expect to get in return.
  • Being true to yourself… always (Jarrow, 2012).

Why is a Positive Attitude Considered the Key to Success?

man smiling - Characteristics and Traits of a Positive Mindset: 6 Examples

Now we know a little bit more about what a positive mindset looks like, we can turn to one of the biggest questions of all:

What’s the deal with having a positive attitude?

What is it about having a positive mindset that is so important, so impactful, so life-changing?

Well, the traits and characteristics listed above give us a hint; if you comb through the literature, you’ll see a plethora of benefits linked to optimism, resilience, and mindfulness.

You’ll see that awareness and integrity are linked to better quality of life, and acceptance and gratitude can take you from the “okay life” to the “good life.”

The Importance of Developing the Right Thoughts

Developing a truly positive mindset and gaining these benefits is a function of the thoughts you cultivate.

Don’t worry—this piece isn’t about the kind of positive thinking that is all positive, all the time. We don’t claim that just “thinking happy thoughts” will bring you all the success you desire in life, and we certainly don’t believe that optimism is warranted in every situation, every minute of the day.

Developing the right thoughts is not about being constantly happy or cheerful, and it’s not about ignoring anything negative or unpleasant in your life. It’s about incorporating both the positive and negative into your perspective and choosing to still be generally optimistic.

It’s about acknowledging that you will not always be happy and learning to accept bad moods and difficult emotions when they come.

Above all, it’s about increasing your control over your own attitude in the face of whatever comes your way. You cannot control your mood, and you cannot always control the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can choose how you handle them.

When you choose to give in to the negativity, pessimism, and doom-and-gloom view of the world, you are not only submitting to a loss of control and potentially wallowing in unhappiness—you are missing out on an important opportunity for growth and development.

According to positive psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, negative thinking, and negative emotions have their place: they allow you to sharpen your focus on dangers, threats, and vulnerabilities. This is vital for survival, although perhaps not as much as it was for our ancestors.

On the other hand, positive thinking and positive emotions “broaden and build” our resources and skills, and open us up to possibilities (Fredrickson, 2004).

Building a positive framework for your thoughts is not about being bubbly and annoyingly cheerful, but making an investment in yourself and your future. It’s okay to feel down or think pessimistically sometimes, but choosing to respond with optimism, resilience, and gratitude will benefit you far more in the long run.

The Outcomes of a Positive Attitude

Aside from enhancing your skills and personal resources, there are many other benefits of cultivating a positive mindset, including better overall health, better ability to cope with stress, and greater well-being (Cherry, 2017A).

According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking can increase your lifespan, reduce rates of depression and levels of distress, give you greater resistance to the common cold, improve your overall psychological and physical well-being, improve your cardiovascular health and protect you from cardiovascular disease, and help you build coping skills to keep you afloat during challenging times (2017).

You’ve probably heard of all these generic benefits before, so we’ll get more specific and explore the benefits of a positive mindset in several different contexts:

  • The workplace
  • Leadership
  • Dealing with disability (for both those with a disability and those around them)
  • Nursing and healthcare
  • Recovery from cancer

10 Benefits of a Positive Mental Attitude in the Workplace

No construct better captures the essence of a positive attitude in the workplace quite like psychological capital (or PsyCap for short).

This multicomponent construct is made up of four psychological resources:

  1. Hope
  2. Efficacy
  3. Resilience
  4. Optimism

PsyCap was first conceptualized as “positive psychological capital” by renowned management and leadership researchers Luthans and Youssef in 2004.

The concept quickly took off among positive organizational psychologists, and by 2011 there were already hundreds of citations of PsyCap in the literature.

The first meta-analysis of all the research on PsyCap was conducted in 2011, and it outlined some of the many benefits of PsyCap in the workplace:

  • PsyCap was positively related to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and psychological well-being.
  • PsyCap was also positively related to organizational citizenship (desirable employee behaviors) and multiple measures of performance (self-rated, supervisor evaluations, and objective measures).
  • PsyCap was negatively related to cynicism, turnover intentions, job stress, and anxiety.
  • PsyCap was also negatively related to negative employee deviance (bad employee behaviors; Avey, Reichard, Luthans, & Mhatre, 2011).

It seems pretty straightforward that positive attitudes like optimism and resilience lead to positive outcomes for the organization and for the employees!

Another study by a few of the giants in the field of positive psychology (Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, and Ed Diener, 2005) investigated the relationship between happiness and benefits to employees.

They showed that positive attitudes in the workplace also benefit the employee in addition to the organization:

  • Happier employees are more productive than other employees.
  • Happy salespeople have higher sales than other salespeople.
  • Happy employees are more creative than other employees.
  • Happy employees are evaluated more positively by their supervisors.
  • Happy employees are less likely to show job withdrawal (absenteeism, turnover, job burnout, and retaliatory behaviors).
  • Happy employees make more money than other employees.

So, a positive attitude can have great benefits for the organization as a whole and for all of its employees.

It turns out that a positive attitude can also result in benefits for leaders and their followers (as well as spreading positivity throughout the organization).

The Importance of a Positive Mindset for Leadership

As important as a positive mindset is for the rank-and-file, it’s easy to see why it is vital for those in a position of leadership.

Researchers Hannah, Woolfolk, and Lord (2009) outlined a framework for positive leadership that rests on the idea that leaders with a positive self-concept (a positive idea of who they are and a habit of thinking positively about themselves) are more able to bring the “right stuff” to their leadership role.

In their theory, a leader with a positive mindset is not only more likely to be actively engaged and to perform at a high level, he or she is also more able to influence followers toward a more positive mindset through role modeling and normative influence.

A study completed around the same time provides support for the relationship between leader and follower positivity; trust in management influenced positive PsyCap, which had a big impact on performance for leaders and followers (Clapp-Smith, Vogegesang, & Avey, 2008).

Further, trust in management was linked to positive leadership and performance. While trust in management isn’t necessarily indicative of a positive mindset in both leader and follower, it is certainly a likely outcome of a generally positive attitude in the workplace.

Forbes writer Victor Lipman (2017) puts findings like these in simpler terms:

“It’s always easier to follow someone with a positive outlook.”

In other words, positive attitudes in a leader will draw followers and encourage motivation and engagement in subordinates. Lipman also notes that having a positive outlook and being resilient is vital in leadership positions because there is a lot of stress involved in managing and leading others.

Leaders must always be “on” and spend much of their time “performing” as a strong, confident leader and perhaps even a public face. This role is a tiring one, and being optimistic and resilient will help leaders stay sane and healthy in challenging contexts.

The Promotion of Positive Attitudes Towards Disability

Having a positive attitude is also a boon for those educating, interacting with, and caring for a disabled student, loved one, or patient.

A positive attitude toward disability facilitates disabled students’ education and helps them assimilate into postsecondary education (Rao, 2004).

This makes it even more troubling to learn that, according to a 2012 study on UK primary schools, only 38% of them had a Disability Equality Scheme in place and only 30% had included a plan to “promote positive attitudes towards disabled people” (Beckett & Buckner).

Further, 76% of schools reported that their staff had not received any training in the promotion of positive attitudes towards students with disabilities.

With so many resources available for promoting positive attitudes toward disability, there is ample opportunity to rectify this lack; for example, research by

The Children’s Society in the UK identified several ways to promote positivity:

  • An inclusive ethos within the school.
  • Staff teams who are knowledgeable, skilled, and committed.
  • Better training, guidance, and support for teachers, including Disability Equality training and ongoing INSET for all staff.
  • High levels of awareness across the whole school community.
  • Disability equality teaching being part of a wider strategy and included across the curriculum and not just within subjects such as PSHE, Citizenship and Religious education.
  • A designated member of staff to coordinate teaching across the curriculum
  • A better understanding of why promoting disability awareness and equality is important.
  • Links with disabled people within the school community and beyond, as well as links with special schools.
  • The availability of good resources.
  • Awareness of, and the challenging of, stereotypes.
  • A critical approach to the use of ‘disablist’ language which reinforces discriminatory attitudes and negative stereotypes.
  • Promotion of the social model of disability.
  • The inclusion of positive and diverse images in all materials used within the school and undertaking an audit of existing materials and resources to ensure they promote positive attitudes (More information on these suggestions can be found here).

A 2009 study also established that formal instruction in disability awareness combined with hands-on fieldwork experiences with people who have a disability can have a significant impact on the positive attitudes toward those with disability (Campbell, Gilmore, & Cuskelly).

The research found that teachers-in-training who participated in a one-semester course involving direct work with students who had Down syndrome greatly improved their knowledge of the syndrome as well as their attitudes toward those with Down syndrome.

All of these findings show that having a positive attitude towards those with a disability is not only the right thing to work toward, but it also has a significant positive influence on both those with disability and those around them.

Unsurprisingly, it’s also important for nurses and other health professionals to cultivate a positive attitude towards their patients with a disability—something that nurses sometimes struggle with (Tervo & Palmer, 2004).

Positive Attitude in Nursing and Health Care

On the subject of nursing and healthcare, this is another context where having a positive mindset (towards oneself and one’s patients—disabled or otherwise) can have a positive impact.

In fact, having a positive attitude is so important for nursing, expert Jean Watson describes nursing as the “Caring Science” (2009).

Indeed, positivity and caring are ingrained in the field; just take a look at the five core nursing values:

  1. Human dignity
  2. Integrity
  3. Autonomy
  4. Altruism
  5. Social justice (Fahrenwald, Bassett, Tschetter, Carson, White, & Winterboer, 2005)

These five values lay the foundation for a caring, positive mindset that is the hallmark of good nursing practice. Nurses who embrace these core values and adopt a positive mindset toward themselves, their work, and their patients can help them find the meaning and fulfillment that likely prompted them to enter the field in the first place.

Having a positive mindset in health care not only acts as a facilitator of meaning and purpose in the lives of healthcare professionals but it also:

  1. Improves the professional’s performance and helps patients find healing and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Reduces the frequency of accidents by enhancing focus.
  3. Helps the professional build a good reputation and advance in their career (Swanson, n.d.).

Luckily, there are evidence-backed ways for nurses to implement a more positive outlook, including:

  • The “Three Good Things” exercise, in which the nursing staff maintains a “three good things” sheet that gets passed around all the nurses at the end of their shift; each staff member writes down at least one good thing that happened that day, and the charge nurse selects three of these positive things to share with the oncoming-shift nurses to help them start their day with positivity.
  • Increasing social connections with patients by placing a “getting to know you” board in each patient room; on admission, nurses can encourage the patient to share something about themselves (not their illness or hospitalization, but about who you are).
  • Encouraging random acts of kindness by nurses—a practice which has the potential to spread to patients and other healthcare professionals.

It is probably not a surprise to you that positivity is, inherently, at the center of positive psychology.

Positivity doesn’t always refer to simply smiling and looking cheerful, however—positivity is more about one’s overall perspective on life and their tendency to focus on all that is good in life.

In this piece, we’ll cover the basics of positivity within positive psychology, identify some of the many benefits of approaching life from a positive point of view, and explore some tips and techniques for cultivating a positive mindset.

This piece is a long one, so settle in and get comfortable. Let’s get started.

What is a Positive Mindset and Attitude? A Definition

You probably have an idea of what a positive mindset or positive attitude is already, but it’s always helpful to start with a definition.

This definition from Remez Sasson (n.d.) is a good general description:

“Positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results.”

Another, more comprehensive definition comes from Kendra Cherry at Very Well Mind (2017B):

“[P]ositive thinking actually means approaching life’s challenges with a positive outlook. It does not necessarily mean avoiding or ignoring the bad things; instead, it involves making the most of the potentially bad situations, trying to see the best in other people, and viewing yourself and your abilities in a positive light.”

We can extrapolate from these definitions and come up with a good description of a positive mindset as the tendency to focus on the bright side, expect positive results, and approach challenges with a positive outlook.

Having a positive mindset means making positive thinking a habit, continually searching for the silver lining and making the best out of any situation you find yourself in.

6 Examples of Characteristics and Traits of a Positive Mindset

So, now we know what a positive mindset is, we can dive into the next important question: What does it look like?

There are many traits and characteristics associated with a positive mindset, including:

  • Optimism: a willingness to make an effort and take a chance instead of assuming your efforts won’t pay off.
  • Acceptance: acknowledging that things don’t always turn out how you want them to, but learning from your mistakes.
  • Resilience: bouncing back from adversity, disappointment, and failure instead of giving up.
  • Gratitude: actively, continuously appreciating the good things in your life (Blank, 2017).
  • Consciousness/Mindfulness: dedicating the mind to conscious awareness and enhancing the ability to focus.
  • Integrity: the trait of being honorable, righteous, and straightforward, instead of deceitful and self-serving (Power of Positivity, n.d.).

Not only are these characteristics of a positive mindset, but they may also work in the other direction—actively adopting optimism, acceptance, resilience, gratitude, mindfulness, and integrity in your life will help you develop and maintain a positive mindset.

A List of Positive Attitudes

If you found the list above still too vague, there are many more specific examples of a positive attitude in action.

For example, positive attitudes can include:

  • It is looking adversity in the eye… and laughing.
  • Getting what you get, and not pitching a fit.
  • Enjoying the unexpected, even when it’s not what you wanted originally.
  • Motivating those around you with a positive word.
  • Using the power of a smile to reverse the tone of a situation.
  • Being friendly to those you don’t know.
  • It’s getting back up when you fall down. (No matter how many times you fall down.)
  • Being a source of energy that lifts those around you.
  • Understanding that relationships are more important than material things.
  • Being happy even when you have little.
  • Having a good time even when you are losing.
  • Being happy for someone else’s success.
  • Having a positive future vision, no matter how bad your current circumstances.
  • Smiling.
  • Paying a compliment, even to a total stranger.
  • Tell someone you know that they did a great job. (And mean it.)
  • Making someone’s day. (Not just a child’s… adult’s like to have their day be special, too!)
  • It’s not complaining no matter how unfair things appear to be. (It is a waste of time… instead, do something!)
  • Not letting other people’s negativity bring you down.
  • Giving more than you expect to get in return.
  • Being true to yourself… always (Jarrow, 2012).

Why is a Positive Attitude Considered the Key to Success?

man smiling - Characteristics and Traits of a Positive Mindset: 6 Examples

Now we know a little bit more about what a positive mindset looks like, we can turn to one of the biggest questions of all:

What’s the deal with having a positive attitude?

What is it about having a positive mindset that is so important, so impactful, so life-changing?

Well, the traits and characteristics listed above give us a hint; if you comb through the literature, you’ll see a plethora of benefits linked to optimism, resilience, and mindfulness.

You’ll see that awareness and integrity are linked to better quality of life, and acceptance and gratitude can take you from the “okay life” to the “good life.”

The Importance of Developing the Right Thoughts

Developing a truly positive mindset and gaining these benefits is a function of the thoughts you cultivate.

Don’t worry—this piece isn’t about the kind of positive thinking that is all positive, all the time. We don’t claim that just “thinking happy thoughts” will bring you all the success you desire in life, and we certainly don’t believe that optimism is warranted in every situation, every minute of the day.

Developing the right thoughts is not about being constantly happy or cheerful, and it’s not about ignoring anything negative or unpleasant in your life. It’s about incorporating both the positive and negative into your perspective and choosing to still be generally optimistic.

It’s about acknowledging that you will not always be happy and learning to accept bad moods and difficult emotions when they come.

Above all, it’s about increasing your control over your own attitude in the face of whatever comes your way. You cannot control your mood, and you cannot always control the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can choose how you handle them.

When you choose to give in to the negativity, pessimism, and doom-and-gloom view of the world, you are not only submitting to a loss of control and potentially wallowing in unhappiness—you are missing out on an important opportunity for growth and development.

According to positive psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, negative thinking, and negative emotions have their place: they allow you to sharpen your focus on dangers, threats, and vulnerabilities. This is vital for survival, although perhaps not as much as it was for our ancestors.

On the other hand, positive thinking and positive emotions “broaden and build” our resources and skills, and open us up to possibilities (Fredrickson, 2004).

Building a positive framework for your thoughts is not about being bubbly and annoyingly cheerful, but making an investment in yourself and your future. It’s okay to feel down or think pessimistically sometimes, but choosing to respond with optimism, resilience, and gratitude will benefit you far more in the long run.

The Outcomes of a Positive Attitude

Aside from enhancing your skills and personal resources, there are many other benefits of cultivating a positive mindset, including better overall health, better ability to cope with stress, and greater well-being (Cherry, 2017A).

According to the experts at the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking can increase your lifespan, reduce rates of depression and levels of distress, give you greater resistance to the common cold, improve your overall psychological and physical well-being, improve your cardiovascular health and protect you from cardiovascular disease, and help you build coping skills to keep you afloat during challenging times (2017).

You’ve probably heard of all these generic benefits before, so we’ll get more specific and explore the benefits of a positive mindset in several different contexts:

  • The workplace
  • Leadership
  • Dealing with disability (for both those with a disability and those around them)
  • Nursing and healthcare
  • Recovery from cancer

10 Benefits of a Positive Mental Attitude in the Workplace

No construct better captures the essence of a positive attitude in the workplace quite like psychological capital (or PsyCap for short).

This multicomponent construct is made up of four psychological resources:

  1. Hope
  2. Efficacy
  3. Resilience
  4. Optimism

PsyCap was first conceptualized as “positive psychological capital” by renowned management and leadership researchers Luthans and Youssef in 2004.

The concept quickly took off among positive organizational psychologists, and by 2011 there were already hundreds of citations of PsyCap in the literature.

The first meta-analysis of all the research on PsyCap was conducted in 2011, and it outlined some of the many benefits of PsyCap in the workplace:

  • PsyCap was positively related to job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and psychological well-being.
  • PsyCap was also positively related to organizational citizenship (desirable employee behaviors) and multiple measures of performance (self-rated, supervisor evaluations, and objective measures).
  • PsyCap was negatively related to cynicism, turnover intentions, job stress, and anxiety.
  • PsyCap was also negatively related to negative employee deviance (bad employee behaviors; Avey, Reichard, Luthans, & Mhatre, 2011).

It seems pretty straightforward that positive attitudes like optimism and resilience lead to positive outcomes for the organization and for the employees!

Another study by a few of the giants in the field of positive psychology (Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, and Ed Diener, 2005) investigated the relationship between happiness and benefits to employees.

They showed that positive attitudes in the workplace also benefit the employee in addition to the organization:

  • Happier employees are more productive than other employees.
  • Happy salespeople have higher sales than other salespeople.
  • Happy employees are more creative than other employees.
  • Happy employees are evaluated more positively by their supervisors.
  • Happy employees are less likely to show job withdrawal (absenteeism, turnover, job burnout, and retaliatory behaviors).
  • Happy employees make more money than other employees.

So, a positive attitude can have great benefits for the organization as a whole and for all of its employees.

It turns out that a positive attitude can also result in benefits for leaders and their followers (as well as spreading positivity throughout the organization).

The Importance of a Positive Mindset for Leadership

As important as a positive mindset is for the rank-and-file, it’s easy to see why it is vital for those in a position of leadership.

Researchers Hannah, Woolfolk, and Lord (2009) outlined a framework for positive leadership that rests on the idea that leaders with a positive self-concept (a positive idea of who they are and a habit of thinking positively about themselves) are more able to bring the “right stuff” to their leadership role.

In their theory, a leader with a positive mindset is not only more likely to be actively engaged and to perform at a high level, he or she is also more able to influence followers toward a more positive mindset through role modeling and normative influence.

A study completed around the same time provides support for the relationship between leader and follower positivity; trust in management influenced positive PsyCap, which had a big impact on performance for leaders and followers (Clapp-Smith, Vogegesang, & Avey, 2008).

Further, trust in management was linked to positive leadership and performance. While trust in management isn’t necessarily indicative of a positive mindset in both leader and follower, it is certainly a likely outcome of a generally positive attitude in the workplace.

Forbes writer Victor Lipman (2017) puts findings like these in simpler terms:

“It’s always easier to follow someone with a positive outlook.”

In other words, positive attitudes in a leader will draw followers and encourage motivation and engagement in subordinates. Lipman also notes that having a positive outlook and being resilient is vital in leadership positions because there is a lot of stress involved in managing and leading others.

Leaders must always be “on” and spend much of their time “performing” as a strong, confident leader and perhaps even a public face. This role is a tiring one, and being optimistic and resilient will help leaders stay sane and healthy in challenging contexts.

The Promotion of Positive Attitudes Towards Disability

Having a positive attitude is also a boon for those educating, interacting with, and caring for a disabled student, loved one, or patient.

A positive attitude toward disability facilitates disabled students’ education and helps them assimilate into postsecondary education (Rao, 2004).

This makes it even more troubling to learn that, according to a 2012 study on UK primary schools, only 38% of them had a Disability Equality Scheme in place and only 30% had included a plan to “promote positive attitudes towards disabled people” (Beckett & Buckner).

Further, 76% of schools reported that their staff had not received any training in the promotion of positive attitudes towards students with disabilities.

With so many resources available for promoting positive attitudes toward disability, there is ample opportunity to rectify this lack; for example, research by

The Children’s Society in the UK identified several ways to promote positivity:

  • An inclusive ethos within the school.
  • Staff teams who are knowledgeable, skilled, and committed.
  • Better training, guidance, and support for teachers, including Disability Equality training and ongoing INSET for all staff.
  • High levels of awareness across the whole school community.
  • Disability equality teaching being part of a wider strategy and included across the curriculum and not just within subjects such as PSHE, Citizenship and Religious education.
  • A designated member of staff to coordinate teaching across the curriculum
  • A better understanding of why promoting disability awareness and equality is important.
  • Links with disabled people within the school community and beyond, as well as links with special schools.
  • The availability of good resources.
  • Awareness of, and the challenging of, stereotypes.
  • A critical approach to the use of ‘disablist’ language which reinforces discriminatory attitudes and negative stereotypes.
  • Promotion of the social model of disability.
  • The inclusion of positive and diverse images in all materials used within the school and undertaking an audit of existing materials and resources to ensure they promote positive attitudes (More information on these suggestions can be found here).

A 2009 study also established that formal instruction in disability awareness combined with hands-on fieldwork experiences with people who have a disability can have a significant impact on the positive attitudes toward those with disability (Campbell, Gilmore, & Cuskelly).

The research found that teachers-in-training who participated in a one-semester course involving direct work with students who had Down syndrome greatly improved their knowledge of the syndrome as well as their attitudes toward those with Down syndrome.

All of these findings show that having a positive attitude towards those with a disability is not only the right thing to work toward, but it also has a significant positive influence on both those with disability and those around them.

Unsurprisingly, it’s also important for nurses and other health professionals to cultivate a positive attitude towards their patients with a disability—something that nurses sometimes struggle with (Tervo & Palmer, 2004).

Positive Attitude in Nursing and Health Care

On the subject of nursing and healthcare, this is another context where having a positive mindset (towards oneself and one’s patients—disabled or otherwise) can have a positive impact.

In fact, having a positive attitude is so important for nursing, expert Jean Watson describes nursing as the “Caring Science” (2009).

Indeed, positivity and caring are ingrained in the field; just take a look at the five core nursing values:

  1. Human dignity
  2. Integrity
  3. Autonomy
  4. Altruism
  5. Social justice (Fahrenwald, Bassett, Tschetter, Carson, White, & Winterboer, 2005)

These five values lay the foundation for a caring, positive mindset that is the hallmark of good nursing practice. Nurses who embrace these core values and adopt a positive mindset toward themselves, their work, and their patients can help them find the meaning and fulfillment that likely prompted them to enter the field in the first place.

Having a positive mindset in health care not only acts as a facilitator of meaning and purpose in the lives of healthcare professionals but it also:

  1. Improves the professional’s performance and helps patients find healing and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Reduces the frequency of accidents by enhancing focus.
  3. Helps the professional build a good reputation and advance in their career (Swanson, n.d.).

Luckily, there are evidence-backed ways for nurses to implement a more positive outlook, including:

  • The “Three Good Things” exercise, in which the nursing staff maintains a “three good things” sheet that gets passed around all the nurses at the end of their shift; each staff member writes down at least one good thing that happened that day, and the charge nurse selects three of these positive things to share with the oncoming-shift nurses to help them start their day with positivity.
  • Increasing social connections with patients by placing a “getting to know you” board in each patient room; on admission, nurses can encourage the patient to share something about themselves (not their illness or hospitalization, but about who you are).
  • Encouraging random acts of kindness by nurses—a practice which has the potential to spread to patients and other healthcare professionals.
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Jess Olague

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