Looking for Good: 4 steps to find the positives in a bad situation

When you’re going through something difficult, it’s hard to think positively. If you’re already feeling depressed or anxious, it’s even harder! You might have a hard time noticing anything good about the situation, or about your life.

Unfortunately, that puts you on track for a downward spiral. Thinking positively not only feels better than thinking negatively, but it also helps you find ways to improve your situation! Of course, it’s easier said than done. Here are four steps you can take to start looking for the good things:

  1. Identify what’s going on. What’s making you feel bad right now? Maybe it’s a situation, or a negative thought you keep struggling with.
  2. Reframe. Even though the situation is hard, is there something you have learned from it or some other silver lining? If you could go back and change the original thought, what’s a healthier thing you can say to yourself? For instance, if you’ve just lost a loved one after they have been extremely sick, does it feel healthier to think about their death as an end to their pain?
  3. Practice gratitude. Are there other things going on in your life that you are thankful for? This doesn’t have to be related to the situation you’re focusing on. For instance, you can be thankful for your good health, having a stable home to live in, or a recent promotion at work.
  4. Once you’ve found some positives, remind yourself! How can you reinforce your reframed thoughts and remind yourself of what you are thankful for? Make a list of ways. For example, put them onto post-it notes and stick them in places around your house as visual reminders.

This worksheet from Mental Health America’s 2020 Mental Health Month Toolkit can help you work through these steps on paper.

This worksheet is also available in Spanish.