As a kid, my mum was a big fan of getting me to look on the bright side.....mopping away blood from a hugely scraped leg she’d tell me that at least it wasn’t broken!
We’re all familiar with the wishful thinking idea of the silver lining in our clouds and the cute idea of making lemonade with the lemons life chucks us, BUT, when we are hit with tough times it doesn’t turn out to be quite as simple as that, does it?
In our last blog we wrote about how the ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Training) framework can help us to better live with unhelpful emotions. (Heavy thoughts?)
ACT does not suggest that positive thinking is the ultimate answer to your troubles. Instead we’re encouraged to look for, and appreciate what is indisputably good, even during a really terrible time, and allow those things to give us some comfort. We may then be better able to accept our situation.
When my Dad died I was devastated, but I tried very hard to appreciate the hugs of my family and friends, the taste of meals that were cooked for me, and little cute moments my kids provided. When you’re having a very difficult time it can be hard even to do this but the results of research in this area suggests it’s well worth trying.
Noticing positive things around us can be a first step towards activating our internal resources and character strengths. Start small – if you can notice how good your coffee tastes and how lovely the sun feels on your skin you are appreciating beauty around you and you can perhaps feel some gratitude for those moments of pleasure. You can try to notice that brief sense of gratitude and hopefully it can help broaden your ability to appreciate what is still good around you. When we use our character strengths, in even the littlest way, we give a boost to our sense of wellbeing and it can also give us more energy to cope with all that’s going on around us.
So is there always a silver lining? Sadly, no. There isn’t a magic wand that clears away the dense fog of tough times; but allowing ourselves, indeed deliberately trying, to look for positive experiences can help give us the strength to accept what is going on and keep functioning rather than be consumed by it.
Flourishing Mothers were inspired by Russ Harris and Barbara Fredrickson