Every cloud has a silver lining, or every silver lining has a cloud?

This rhetorical question gets to the heart of a choice which most of us face in life, very often . Do we chose to see the positive good in situations and people, or otherwise? Do we view change as threatening and undesirable or welcome it as an opportunity for improvement and growth? Put simply, do we view the glass as half empty, or half full?

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Speaking personally, I am capable of both optimism and pessimism, grace and generosity and on occasion mean spiritedness. Without doubt, the more positive mind-set brings greater happiness and wellbeing and is often self-fulfilling. More positivity leads to greater wellbeing, positive actions ,feedback from others and so forth. Developing greater mindfulness keeps you in touch with your emotions and the emotions of others and is the best way to remain centred, and positive.

However, it is the relationship which you have with yourself which will be the greatest determinant of your happiness, optimism and wellbeing. 'No amount of self-help can make up for any lack of self-worth' as one of the contributors to this site once put it, and self-worth is the platform that we all need if we are to grow and to flourish. As a parent I often reflect on how I can best help my children to develop a positive, optimistic outlook and this has inevitably informed my own adult life as well.

Demonstrating love is the most important part of the mix and it needs to be reinforced in every imaginable way. Telling your children that you love them is important but don't forget the power of non-verbal communication, and particularly touch as well. If I reflect on my own childhood much of my sense of wellbeing came from touch as much as through what my parents said to me. I am grateful that they were both tactile and it is worth reflecting on the positive effect that touch can have, on children and adults alike.

It is easy to lose sight of these things as your children grow older and it is every bit as important to give teenagers positive words and touch as they navigate the difficult years, and sometimes excruciating self-doubt. Teenagers may on occasion seem to spiky to hug, but it is all the more important to do so. If they continue to feel loved they are more likely to develop a positive sense of self and to go out into the world confident and optimistic.

Developing a positive internal dialogue is the next most important part of the mix and as a coach and mentor I am constantly reminded of how unkind people can be to themselves. Sadly, many find it easier to be kind to complete strangers and this often reflects a lack of self-acceptance, and a negative internal dialogue.

'If I allow you to see me, you will see that I am not enough..I have to find the courage to allow you to see me to discover that I am enough. A lot of us are packaging ourselves, trying to be somebody by changing ourselves, rather than surrendering to ourselves'

Jacob Needleman

To my mind, surrender is the crucial word here- learning to accept ourselves for all of our imperfections, rather than trying to be someone or something that we are not. Much negativity is picked up in childhood but the media and advertising industries do not help. That we can never be or do or earn or achieve enough are messages which we are constantly bombarded with, subliminally and more obviously too. Developing a deeper sense of self worth, along with humour and irony, are the best antidotes which I am aware of.

Where children are concerned the psychologists tell us that it is better to reward effort than success, and I agree. By telling our children how proud we are of their hard work and attitude rather than their exam results for example, we are reinforcing unconditional love rather than providing conditional reward for success only.

The intent is to create an internal narrative which says that 'I am loved for who I am rather than appreciated only for what I achieve'. This should have a profoundly positive impact on their self worth, optimism and outlook on life. They will hopefully focus on the silver lining rather than the cloud. They will learn that where they focus their energy will shape the reality which they experience, and what's more, that they will be better able to pass on positivity and love to others as well.


David Head

Coach and Mentor, Accelerating Experience

With twenty years experience in the search industry before becoming a coach, I combine highly personalised coaching and mentoring with broader commercial insight and perspective. I will help you to find your purpose, to thrive in your career and to change direction when this is what is needed. I will commit to helping you to achieve a state of flow by aligning values and purpose with what you do and how you do it. contact me via david.head@acceleratingexperience.com 07920 064056


Go to the profile of Susannah Hebden
over 6 years ago
Interesting piece David. In your opinion are you born a 'glass half full/empty' type person or is this something we can learn to develop and foster? It's a discussion (read heated debate there) I have with my mother on a regular basis - she being a positive, glass half full type person and therefor in my mind sometimes naive, and me being what I term a 'realist' or as she puts it, a negative glass half empty type person! What are your views on this?
Go to the profile of David Head
over 6 years ago
Hi Susannah, I think that most people have a leaning towards pessimism or optimism, and you can spot the bias quite easily. It' s a question of degree really and I do believe that you can modify your bias, particularly if you have a tendency towards pessimism and want to change this. Martin Seligman, one of the champions of positive psychology, wrote a seminal book called 'learned optimism' which is well worth reading if you would like to learn more about how it is possible to modify your explanatory style to become more optimistic for example. The book also helps to identify where you sit on the optimism-pessimism scale. I was surprised to learn that I am more optimist than pessimist, because like you I view myself as a realist above all else, That said, I have worked hard to be more positive over the years, and I think that Seligman is right- it is possible to learn to be more optimistic. there is lots of research in neuroscience to support this view- neuroplasticity in particular.
Go to the profile of Susannah Hebden
over 6 years ago
Thanks David - will give the book a read. I think I tend to err on the side of caution as a safety mechanism. In my head it will prepare me for disappointments that might be coming my way and to me that just makes good sense. But who knows, may be I'll turn out to be more of an optimist than I realise!