You have probably heard the saying “look on the brighter side”. It’s something we often say to someone when things aren’t going their way or when life seems to be working against them in some way. It serves as a reminder of the bigger picture. It speaks to the art of reframing your reality, of looking at things from a different perspective, and of not allowing certain circumstances to dictate how you feel or act. It is a powerful technique that is full of important lessons for all of us.
That being said, training ourselves to look on the brighter side isn’t always easy. We get so easily caught up in the moment when things are not as we wish them to be, that we often have blinders on to the fact that what is happening is often just temporary and is only one small piece of life.
Consider these common scenarios:
- It’s yet ANOTHER bitter cold day outside in what feels like a never-ending winter – it is so easy to get caught up in the mental rhetoric that replays itself over and over leaving us feeling awful, but what we are missing is the fact that despite the cold temps, the sun is shining brightly and we are cozy warm inside our home or office.
- Nothing seems to be going right today – when it appears the whole universe is conspiring against us it is so easy to turn that on ourselves, which usually results in feelings of unworthiness, inadequacies, etc., however, if we just took a moment to recognize that despite the fact that life seems to be working against us today, we are alive and in good health, have a job, a family, etc.
- You are sitting in traffic and am going to be late for work – this stressful situation over which you likely have little to no control is no doubt frustrating, but you have a car, and a job, and probably a cell phone to give your boss a heads up about your later arrival…and, let us not forget, that you aren’t the one in the accident that has traffic all tied up.
- You have a list that’s a mile long of all the things you wish you had…a job you like, more money, a bigger house, a different car, a big vacation, the perfect relationship, etc. – we always want more than what we have, but if all our essential needs (food, clothing, and shelter) are met, then we have something to be grateful for and that list of wants and desires can become a list of things to strive for in the future.
It really just comes down to perspective. And while this kind of thinking isn’t meant to excuse poor choices, mistreatment of others, etc., it is extremely helpful to reframe a negative state of mind brought on by temporary circumstances. And while it doesn’t take away our responsibility to ourselves and to one another, it is an important technique for shaping our realities and for living a joyful, positive life. So, the next time you find yourself thinking negative thoughts, try looking on the brighter side, at the bigger picture. Give your situation some perspective. Look at all the aspects of it until you can see the good that resides in it as well as the negative. The positive things are there…sometimes you just have to step back and take a breath before you can see them.