• Denise Cartagena

Finding the Bright Side of Dim Situations: 3 Ways to Cultivate Positivity Right Now

We can all agree that times are strange and pretty tough right now. A lot of people are still out of work, we still can’t fully enjoy ordinary outings, and things at home that normally would have gone unnoticed are really bugging us. It’s sometimes frustrating and challenging to remember, but COVID is temporary, and we will come out of this on the other side (hopefully in good health and with a new perspective on life). Luckily, there is still a silver lining in this situation: we each have an opportunity to gain a new appreciation for things that were taken for granted back when we were leading normal everyday lives.

Here are 3 tools to shed some light on the positives that we can take away from this experience:

1. Identify the things you miss doing and be mindful of when you can enjoy them again.

Think about the things you wish you could do. Maybe that’s going out to the clubs, enjoying a glass of wine on a restaurant patio with a group of friends, or even something as simple as going out to target without wearing a mask and obsessively using hand sanitizer. Gosh, wouldn’t it be nice to do those things freely? I’m sure if we could have planned for this pandemic, we all would have made the time to enjoy those freedoms before they were taken away.

What about the activities you wish you could do right now. For example, I would tell myself (and others) that I enjoy hiking and various crafts, but when I lost my job and I found myself with so much free time on my hands, I didn’t have the proper gear or supplies to do those things. I didn’t prioritize them when I had the freedom to, and when I found myself searching for things to do, I had to decide if spending the money on the right supplies was a priority - it wasn’t. Did you experience anything similar to that? Again, I would have spent the money on those supplies to prepare if I had known we would be in this situation for so long.

But that’s the thing about emergencies. You don’t know when they are going to happen. This is why it’s so important to prioritize and enjoy the things that we can usually do without much thought when we are able to! But for now, make a list of those things, and prepare yourself to readily take action when there is an opportunity to do so. How can you incorporate more of those activities into your normal life? How might you start enjoying them now?

2. Express your gratitude for the people who make your life better.

Think about all the people who create impact in your life. Maybe that’s your partner who is working to provide despite all the hardships this year has brought upon the two of you. Maybe a parent that is trying to be there as best they can even though they have their own worries. Maybe your friend or sibling that has been there for you when you needed to talk about what’s been going on inside. Or maybe someone with a smaller role in your life that took the time to check in to see how you’ve been doing. Who is coming to mind? How would you feel if they weren’t in your life?

Expressing gratitude for others is directly related to your happiness! Write that person a letter and let them know what they mean to you. Send it to them, or if you are able to, read it to them. When it comes to our overall happiness and wellbeing, other people really matter. Even if seeing each other is tough right now, expressing your gratitude is only a phone call away.

Check out this video and watch to the end to get a better understanding of the impact of this exercise:

3. Identify your strengths and focus on becoming your best self

You are still in control of you. Lastly, think about what makes you your best. Maybe it’s that you are honest in all situations, good or bad. Maybe you have a love of learning and search for new discoveries everyday. Maybe your ability to love allows you to get close to those in your life with ease.

While experiencing a crisis, such as the new reality of living through a pandemic, it is possible for people to emerge as stronger individuals with heightened character strengths (Peterson, 2006). This is so important because this means that with all the challenges, frustrations, and obstacles being thrown our way, we can come out as even better versions of ourselves than if we had not experienced this year at all! Identify your strengths. What are some ways you can further develop them?

Here is a great tool to identify your top 5 character strengths:

Even though 2020 has not been the year we wished, hoped, and dreamed for, there are still positives to be taken from it. We thought about the little things that bring joy into our lives and we will readily act when we have the chance to do them again. We thought about all the people who enrich our life experience and will nourish our relationships by letting them know how grateful we are for them. Most powerfully, because the self is the foundation, we took some time to think about what makes us our best and can now use that information as a base for our growth while we patiently wait for normal life to return. Even with so many negatives around us, there are still positives to be gained as well. It all depends on where your focus is.

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Happy Growing & Best Wishes,



Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. Oxford University Press, Inc.




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