Finding something positive in every situation

Do you remember this Friends episode when Phoebe’s overly-enthusiastic date irritates everyone ? Parker is constantly cheerful, talkative, energetic and, well, strange. He also has this annoying habit of making a big fuss of everything, even the most trivial things…

Well, actually… When we tend to see the glass as half empty, we may learn some things from Parker, played by Alec Baldwin.

By focusing on the deficiencies of an organization, or the defects of a person, or the downside of a situation, we are magnifying those aspects that do not work, at the expense of those that do.

How to get rid of our pessimism ?

How to stop highlighting the negative ?

How to underplaying the positive ?

Today’s article — based on our reading of “Be a benefit-finder”, written by Tal Ben-Shahar in his book Choose The Life You Want, 10 Ways to Create Your Own Road to Happiness — is about finding something positive in every situation. According to another motivational speaker and writer Brian Tracy, 95% of our emotions are determined by how we interpret event to ourselves.

“How we choose to approach life — whether as a benefit-finder or a fault-finder — significantly impacts our physical and mental health, our experience of the world and the experiences around us”

Same event, different approaches, different interpretations.

Tal Ben Shahar shares a few personal story with two different approaches.

“I have attention deficit disorder. My mind wanders constantly, and I find it difficult to focus for any length of time on one activity. At times, my ADD makes learning and working incredibly difficult. Since the age of eleven, I dreamed of being a professional squash player. When I was twenty, just as I was getting ready to embark on a professional career in my sport of choice, I was injured. This injury was devastating emotionally. It shattered my dream. I was kicked out of the PhD program at Cambridge University in England — the only student in my year (and one of the few ever) to be expelled. All in all, it was a humiliating experience and a wasted year, professionally and academically. I am so unlucky !”

Same story.

“I have attention deficit disorder. It’s actually a good thing, because it forces me to focus on those activities that I actually love, because only something I am passionate about can capture my attention. It is a blessing : an internal mechanism that forces me to do things that makes me happy. Since the age of eleven, I dreamed of being a professional squash player. When I was twenty, just as I was getting ready to pursue my dream, I was injured. The injury ended my professional aspirations. As a result I decided to apply to university, and discovered psychology, which has been my passion ever since. I was kicked out of the PhD program at Cambridge University — the only student in my year (and one of the few ever) to be expelled. This experience turned out to be a blessing in disguise, preparing me for my future work as a consultant. I was at the time arrogant and full of myself — a likely prescription for failure. Being kicked out of the program humbled me, and I ended up spending some of the best years of my living and working in Asia. I am so lucky!”.

Looking at events through the lens of a benefit finder can help us perceive and experience the world in a different — often better — way.

When we actively seek out those things that work, we amplify the positive
A healthy life requires a realistic perspective — one that does not ignore problems, and at the same time, does not ignore when things are going well.

By focusing on the negatives, and then, by highlighting the upside of these same experiences, you could also live your life as a benefit-finder

Go ahead! Parker is watching you…ready to take a mental picture!