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Increase Your Happiness: Look for the Positive

October 10th, 2016 · No Comments

This article is in our series about increasing happiness and life satisfaction.  Many people with chronic pain can’t decrease their pain.  So another way to live a more enjoyable and fulfilling life – perhaps even more important – is to increase the positive.  That’s what we’ll be looking at in this series.

Let’s look at increasing positive emotions by looking for the positive in any situation.

Our squirrely brains automatically look for problems and negatives.  As with some situations – the negative is truly there.  This isn’t about only the glass half full.  But a balanced way of looking at most situations is finding the positive along with the negative.

So write down a problem or tough situation you faced this week.  Next, write down several things about this problem which were good.  It may take you a little while if you need to look carefully for a benefit!  The positive could be:

  • a way you grew from this situation
  • how it drew out a skill you need to practice
  • how it made you work your problem-solving muscle
  • you learned something valuable from the experience

In looking for the positive in a challenge – searching for a balanced view – you will be happier, more optimistic, more realistic, and more resilient.  (Of course there may be some severe challenges or traumas that it’s hard to find any positives, especially immediately.  But for most situations, you can find at least 1.)

Let’s take a look at 2 examples:

“Small challenge” example:  We returned from a weekend away, and I had nothing in the frig for dinner.


  1. I got a yummy salad take out lunch the next day, instead of bringing my lunch to work.
  2. I had some nuts and dried fruit for a small dinner, and remembered that I’ve been wanting to do a mini-fast (tiny dinner) once a week anyway.

So instead of feeling deprived and stressed about not having something to make, I worked around it, and remembered something I wanted to try.

“Bigger challenge” example:  We had guests for a week, with lots of disruption and many more entertaining demands than I had anticipated.


  1. Visiting with people we haven’t seen in a long, long time.
  2. I learned to rely on others more during this week.
  3. I learned the importance of listening to my limits in terms of energy and busyness.

I tried to focus in this situation on what was important – visiting with the guests, and let the annoyances go.  It was also helpful practice for me of recognizing my limits – not going over them and being unhappy – and relying on others.

Your assignment:  Do this exercise once a day – looking for positives in a negative situation

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