Humans seem to be wired to easily recognize bad things—danger, fear, hostility—and skip over good things. I’m sure there’s a perfectly sensible survival-related reason for that. However, if the lens we look through shows us only negatives, it makes for a pretty miserable view.
I’m not suggesting that the negativity view isn’t accurate. However, if you want to live a satisfying, perhaps even a happy life, the negativity lens may not be your best friend.
If a lens of negativity, resentment, depression, anxiety, etc. is not working so well for you, maybe you’ve considered trying a different one.
That’s not so easy to do. So, here’s a suggestion: Look for the good thing. One good thing. Even a tiny good thing is better than no good thing at all. Look for that.
A tiny example came to me today when I entered a store. Now, most every retail establishment has a greeter. Technically, they are not greeters. The employees positioned at entrances to ensure that rules are followed could be seen as enforcers. I choose to see them as greeters.
One interesting result is that when a person is treated as a greeter, they tend to respond as a greeter. Try it. Say hello, ask how they’re doing. Enjoy the greeters that the pandemic has brought to us.
I know that’s a trivial example of a good thing. But the big point is that it may be better for us—for our own health and well-being—if we build a habit of looking for the good thing. Having a habit makes it easier to remember to wonder, “What good thing is coming out of this?”
Just to be clear—I’m not suggesting that you try to equate the good thing with the bad thing. For many situations, that would be absurd, even disrespectful.
If you’ve had a devastating diagnosis, betrayal, or loss, it likely won’t be lessened by “thinking of a good thing.” It’s hard to find the positive in a serious illness or someone’s death. Maybe events like that can motivate us to draw closer to loved ones with a little more kindness. However, I do not pretend that one can always find a good thing equivalent to the bad thing.
Rather, the suggestion is that making a choice to look consciously for something positive, rather than accepting the immediate negative, can help us.
If deliberately building this habit helps us develop more resilience, then we are better able to respond when difficult situations continue to pop up. As they most assuredly will.
I also suggest writing down the good things. When you write them down, you create a body of work. This list of good things that results from seemingly bad events can be a helpful reminder when unpleasantness comes your way again.
If you’ve tried this before but gave up because it got too hard, believe me, I understand. But every day is a new day and a new chance. We may as well make the best of it. One way is to look for the good thing that we can find.
Is it worthwhile to try? Only you can decide.
Welcome to Reality Check:
articles and observations inspired by the work of Dr. William Glasser
- Choosing Behaviour
- Choosing Perspective
- Control and Choice
- Develop Understanding
- Doing, Thinking, Feeling, Physiology
- How it is sometimes
- Love & Belonging
- Perception & Reality
- Personal Freedom