Bright Side

From the CONCERN: EAP Resilience Library

Sometimes our minds drift to the things that we perceive as disappointing in our lives—a slip of the tongue, a day that didn’t go as smoothly as we’d hoped. Although it can be useful to remember these moments in order to learn from them, if we focus on them too much they have a way of bringing us down.

Finding the bright side of a less than ideal situation is an important part of developing an optimistic outlook. Research links optimism with greater resilience and improved satisfaction in our jobs, our relationships and in life.

For example, participants in a study at University of California, Berkeley were asked to complete a set of optimism exercises and goal visualization tasks daily for three weeks. Upon completion of the study, they reported greater engagement in life and an improvement in functional thinking.

The Berkeley study also found that the effects of optimism exercises seemed to wear off after a few months, indicating that, for a sustained benefit, it’s a good idea to make optimism practices a regular, healthy habit in our lives. Although we don’t want to over-do the positivity, many of us can benefit from spending a little more time on the sunny side of the street.

Here are a few easy optimism-building tips you can try right now:

  1. To get into an optimistic mindset, first list five big or small things that bring your life meaning or enjoyment.
  2. Now, remember the last time life threw you an unwelcome curveball. Describe that moment in writing.

Now, using that same moment, identify some things about that situation that you could view as positive. If an accident on the freeway caused you to be late to work, maybe you got to catch up on the news, call your family (hands-free of course), or belt out to your favorite pop tune along with the radio.