Finding Silver Linings - A Writing Practice

We all tend to ruminate on things that have gone wrong in our lives—a mistake we made at work, how we handled an uncomfortable situation, an day that didn’t go as planned.

We might even think about them so often that our lives seem filled with these mishaps and disappointments.

Focusing on these disappointments too much, however, can cast a spell over our lives and even be associated with depressive thinking.

Looking on the bright side even when things go wrong is a key component of optimism, which research links to lower rates of depression, a better ability to cope with stress, and more relationship satisfaction, among other benefits.

While finding the silver lining on a negative experience might (understandably) make you fear turning into a Pollyanna, many of us have a tendency rarely look on the bright side as often as we ought to.

Title: Finding Silver Linings


A practice is an action or activity done repeatedly with the intention of building your capability and competency leaving you more able to deal with your challenges in your own way.

The purpose of this practice is:

  • To help you achieve a healthier balance

  • To support you in seeing ‘failures’ as opportunities

  • To develop your capacity to express gratitude and openness to learning

  • To increase your feelings of self-worth and agency


  1. Set aside 10 minutes daily for three weeks

  2. List five things that make you feel like your life is enjoyable, enriching, and/or worthwhile at this moment. These things can be as general as “being in good health” or as specific as “drinking a delicious cup of coffee this morning.”
    The purpose of this first step is to help you shift into a positive state of mind about your life in general.

  3. Next, think about the most recent time when something didn’t go your way, or when you felt frustrated, irritated, or upset.

  4. In a few sentences, briefly describe the situation in writing.

  5. Then, list three things that can help you see the bright side of this situation. For example, perhaps you missed your bus this morning. Three ways to look on the bright side of this situation might be: (1) Even though you missed the bus, you got some good exercise when you were running to catch it. (2) You’re fortunate to live in a city where there was another bus just 10 minutes later, or where buses run reliably at all. (3) Ten years from now, you likely won’t remember what happened this morning.

Continue this practice daily for three weeks.

Network of support:
Enlist the support of someone close to you (someone who cares about you and your well-being).
Ask him/her to check in with you daily to follow up on your practice and to hold you accountable.