Something is in the water. Everybody, it seems, is blogging, speaking, or doing research about the concept of happiness and freedom in the workplace.

Some call the new happiness movement frivolous. But positive psychology has produced enough convincing evidence to say otherwise; it really can transform your life and culture if you apply the principles.

On a personal level, happiness without a positive outlook is mere delusion. When the curve balls of life are thrown their way, people exhibiting emotional intelligence  will hit them out of the park with resilience and really good boundaries.

Emotional intelligence does not exist without boundaries

You've seen it before--how a lack of boundaries in certain people will enable passive-aggressive behavior. Since they can't or won't stand up for themselves, it allows others (bosses, peers, spouses) to take advantage of them.

In the workplace, co-workers quickly adapt to the silent consent of a boundaryless colleague--someone who may agree with everything or shut down when the slightest conflict arises.

What co-workers or bosses learn quickly is that they can easily get a person with weak boundaries to do or go along with just about anything. As Dr. Phil McGraw once said, "we teach people how to treat us."

Eight things happy and positive people will not do or think

Emotionally-intelligent people are naturally positive thinkers with solid boundaries, but they don't arrive there with a flip of a switch -- it takes hard work.

To increase your positive thinking, a good strategy is to first conduct a self-analysis to know whether you're operating without boundaries.

Happy and positive people rarely, if at all, would answer "yes" to any of these eight questions.  

  1. Do you play the victim/martyr role in your work relationships?
  2. Do you often neglect your deepest wishes and desires to accommodate and yield to others' wishes and desires?
  3. Do you fear job loss or abandonment so that you find yourself acting submissive to peers, bosses, or your life partner?
  4. Are you a people-pleaser, and usually worried about what other people think of you?
  5. Do you almost never say no, even when you don't want to do something?
  6. Do you hide the truth about what's going on in your work or personal relationships?
  7. Are you always gauging other people's moods, like your boss's, in fear of retaliation?
  8. Do you lose yourself and your identity in your work or social networks?

How did you do? If at least four of those struck a nerve (with a yes), here's the bottom line:

A person lacking boundaries will go out of his or her way to act responsible for others to the exclusion of taking care of his or her own needs, wishes, and deepest desires.

In my next article, I offer some hope. I will give you eight practical steps you can apply today for good boundaries and an improved outlook in life. Subscribe below to receive it.