Finding the Positive

Positivity can make a huge difference in your day. Several mostly-positive days make for a positive week. Then come months, years, and a whole life. Of course, there are down times: dark moments and experiences that can cast months of shadows on the way we see ourselves and the people around us. These experiences try us, and often are an opportunity to grow, even if we don’t recognize that growth until well after the experience has passed. But when dark times bring us under too far, when we find it difficult to get through the day and it seems the weight persists long after it should, then it’s very useful to find a psychotherapist. Whether it is for depression, anxiety, or grief, working with a personal counselor can make a big difference.

For most people, the “big picture” goal of therapy is to improve the client’s quality of life. But even for those people not in therapy, there is always room for improvement. Finding the positive in day-to-day situations can go a long way, and increasing amounts of academic research and literature back up the important role positivity can play.One new study from Michigan State University explores the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach to smiling and positivity. Workers who frequently show fake smiles actually become less happy. Instead, those who look for the positive in a situation or think of happy things in their own lives are more likely to smile genuinely (and reap the positive benefits of that smile).

An article recently published by Springer follows Karen Rosenthal Hilsberg’s journey through her husband’s illness and death, and how she and her family healed and found hope by pursuing the positive through mindfulness meditation.

Finally, the infamous “Nun study,” in which hundreds of practicing Sisters volunteered to take surveys and, upon death, donate their brains for research into Alzheimer’s disease. (The shared schedule, diet, and other lifestyle factors made the nuns ideal for study.) What factor made the most difference in dementia symptoms? Attitude. But it didn’t stop with mental agility: those nuns whose autobiographies, written years before, were the most positive tended to live a full decade longer than those who were less positive.


© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Natalie


    March 7th, 2011 at 11:52 PM

    It’s not how we handle the positive moments but how we handle the negative one’s that matter more.It is very important not to lose hope and to believe in yourself and God Almighty when in trouble.It is then much easier to tide over problems.

  • edward


    March 8th, 2011 at 4:02 AM

    being positive is such a good thing…not only does it give you a reason to smile but also livens up the environment for others because you are actually spreading positive energy whereas most others spread negative energy…it is a joy to even be with someone who is positive and as history has proven,being positive gives us that little push to be able to cross the finish line…! :)

  • Shyanne


    March 8th, 2011 at 5:49 AM

    Sadly I think that there are a lot of people who are hard wired to be unable to find the positive in anything. There are too many negative nellies running around and bringing things down. I don’t even think that for some of these people the promise of a longer and more fulfilled life for being positive could change their mindset.

  • LD


    March 8th, 2011 at 10:58 AM


    There is nothing that can boost a person’s chances at something more than positivity. This positivity can come from within or through encouragement from someone else. It’s great that it is contagious too!!!

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