January 12, 2022 by Coach Training EDU
by S.E. Reid
Since the start of the COVID pandemic, researchers have been interested in how widespread events impact the collective mental health of a nation. Through countless surveys, experts discovered something intriguing: overall, as expected, most people found the pandemic and its effects a negative event in their lives with difficult consequences. Unexpectedly, however, many also mentioned unlikely positive things to arise from it.
Quarantine was difficult, but in several cases it united families and deepened bonds. Changes in work were disorienting, but often led to better work-life balance as light was shed on issues. Neighbors came together more. Communities served one another. A crisis led many to find bright spots in the darkness.
It’s a classic case of the old adage: “every cloud has a silver lining”. And it’s something we all can cultivate. Not just in a serious crisis, like finding the silver lining in COVID, but in our everyday lives, too.
The concept is older than you might think. John Milton, the poet who wrote Paradise Lost, first mentioned dark clouds with silver linings all the way back in 1634. He was referencing the light the moon shines on a dark cloud in the night. But we have the optimistic Victorians to thank for popularizing the idea and turning it into the phrase we know today: every cloud has a silver lining.
In the modern era, just like hundreds of years ago, the phrase is meant as an encouragement. That life is difficult, but no matter how dark things get, there is always a bright spot to be found on the edge of every storm. Before concepts like “growth mindset” were born, “every cloud has a silver lining” was a way of seeing the positives in life while acknowledging the negatives.
Silver linings aren’t meant to erase the pain of a difficult event or season. They are meant to steer us in the direction of healing through positive thinking. The more we can face our toughest times with hope, the healthier we’ll be.
Positivity and mental health have a complicated relationship. It’s no secret that the more you focus on positive things, the more likely you are not to focus on negative things. Experts encourage those who struggle with depression, anxiety, and other mental health difficulties to find ways to cultivate joy in their lives through positive thinking and proactive behaviors. While pursuing this attitude, it’s important to make sure you are also maintaining a reasonable outlook on positivity. There is a time for grief and a time for disappointment — be careful not to allow your quest for a silver lining to overshadow healthy processing of life’s darker moments.
Finding a silver lining is an excellent antidote to pessimism and can help reduce depression. For there to be a silver lining, there has to be a dark cloud, and recognizing the darkness with the light can help your positive attitude be rooted in the reality of the situation, bolstering your resilience to face whatever comes your way.
At its core, finding your silver lining is a shift in perspective. Anything that breaks you out of the ruts your brain typically runs in will help you find or craft the positive side to any cloud. While there’s no exhaustive list for finding your silver lining–or creating one, if you have to!--here are ten tips to help you get started and hopefully inspire your day to day, no matter what life throws at you:
It’s not wrong to be sad when difficult things happen. Life is full of challenging situations and real heartache. But after reflecting on your grief or disappointment, you don’t have to stay there. It can be tough work to find silver linings in every cloud, but they do exist. And by shifting your perspective, you can practice positivity in just about every circumstance.
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