The Jedi Mind Trick of Being Positive

Cailan Sockness—a recruitment specialist out of our Minneapolis branch—performs a Jedi mind trick on himself to stay positive throughout the workday. While he is clearly excited about the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, these tips will serve you well whenever you need a positivity boost from the Force!

Today’s world of politics, religion, economy, and daily life struggles can either elevate or depress our moods. How does one remain positive when bombarded by negativity?

Employee happiness is an increasingly important aspect of the modern workplace. In fact, according to—a popular website for job seekers and recruiters—companies with happier employees outperform competition by an average of 20%. I currently work as a Recruitment Specialist. My position is personally rewarding, but I’m often confronted with negative interactions. I focus on creating positive and enjoyable experiences for candidates as I work to uncover their next career steps, but not every candidate shares my positive outlook.  On a good day, I speak with five to ten candidates who are less than excited to hear from me for varying reasons; most often, they feel bothered. While I’m comfortable being “rejected” by potential candidates, I still feel the sharp jab of negativity every time.  It makes me ask myself: How do I make my next call genuinely positive after getting a verbal smack down? This is when I decided to take a page from one of my favorite franchises…STAR WARS!  And no…I did not join the Dark Side.

For those who may not understand the term “Jedi Mind Trick,” this is an action within the Star Wars franchise in which a Jedi manipulates a person’s mind with the intended goal of achieving an outcome. And with the excitement around the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I decided to perform a Jedi mind trick on myself to achieve the goal of combating negativity and potentially helping others do the same.

For the Jedi mind trick to work, you must be open to the idea that you can achieve positive change simply through your thoughts. Most of us have heard the popular quote “I think, therefore I am,” so—with that logic—one should be able to think positively and, thereby, feel positive. For some, that’s all it takes. Others, like me, need more of a push to ignore the negativity or, as I refer to it, the “Darth Vader.” I need to physically do things to empower my thoughts to remain headed in a positive direction.

You must become comfortable with doing things outside of your comfort zone. You must become your own “Yoda,” willing to dismiss unnecessary noise from your mind. The more you can laugh about something unrelated to the negative experience, the stronger the positive influence over your thoughts.

Sonja Lyubomirsky—professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and best-selling author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want—has pinpointed several strategies to remaining positive. Her #1 tip is embracing gratitude. “Focus on really appreciating what you have at work,” she says. “Maybe it’s a valued colleague or your boss. Or maybe it’s merely the fact that you don’t have a long commute.” She adds that you can express gratitude directly to people in the workplace, which can “really strengthen your connections with your coworkers.”

A study in the Journal of Social Psychology cited that—when it comes to feeling happy—doing something kind for people has the same effect as trying new and exciting things. Although the workday is not the appropriate time to conduct our personal lives, we can integrate this tactic into our lunch hours or the often uneventful drive to and from the office.

Here are some examples of things that have helped me:

  1. Call a friend or family member – If you have a Bluetooth and can speak hands free during your commute, use this time to call a friend or family member you usually message through texting. Voice contact in the text era can elevate not only your mood, but also a connection to someone you may have put on the backburner.
  1. Positive breathing – This is different from regular deep breathing. While inhaling, hold the breath for three seconds while envisioning a positive word, something that harbors a personal connection for you. After speaking the word in your mind, slowly exhale. Repeat these steps for 60 seconds.
  1. Tell a joke – Tell a coworker one of the corniest jokes you can remember, as long as it’s safe for the work environment. This can help both you and a coworker laugh away lingering negativity.
  1. Get out of your seat…and move – Walk through the office. Say “hi” to a coworker. Take a ten-minute walk outside. Refresh your legs, blood and air flow. A quick walk can take you from ten to zero in a matter of minutes!

Conceptualizing positivity as a Jedi mind trick has helped me remove the gap between thinking and doing. It’s all about training myself to employ positive reinforcement when faced with a negative situation. It also encourages me to be less afraid of failure or animosity and prepares me to face a “Darth Vader,” or potentially negative interaction.

Just as the wise Yoda once said, “Do or do not, there is no try.” You have the ability to positively influence your life…if you choose proactivity. Choose to become The Last “Office” Jedi who uses mental barriers to keep the Dark Side of negativity at bay.