How to Look for the Positive

leadership development
At the Table with Jen

It’s another day at the office, and it seems like everything that can go wrong has, and you are frustrated. Maybe it seems as though each time you complete an item on your action list, three new items are added. Or perhaps you can see delays in schedule or cost over runs and no sign of improvement. Or perhaps you are short-staffed and do not have a new employee starting anytime soon to help with the workload.

I know I’ve had each of these situations happen before, and I definitely felt frustrated and overwhelmed. It can be easy to let the things that aren’t going well to be all that we see. And when we focus on those frustrations, we tend to see even more of them.

Soon enough, it feels like a continual spiral of overwhelm and frustrations that can be challenging to stop. When that happens, how do you go about changing your perspective?

The answer is easy, but it takes effort and practice.

When you look for the positive, you will start to feel a shift. Not only will you see what is going right, but you feel relief and encouraged that things are improving. Below are three tips to help you look for the positive:

#1 Take a breather from the frustrations

Sometimes walking away and taking a break is all you need to see a different perspective. When you are so involved and only see the details or frustrations, the break enables you clear your mind. Whether the break is for a few minutes or a few days, you’ll feel less frustrated because you gave yourself permission to rest and come back at a later time.

 #2 Make a deliberate choice 

During the break, take a few minutes and deliberately seek out the positives around you.

Are other areas of your projects or business running smoothly?

Are teammates doing amazing work?

Did you accomplish some personal goals like exercise that day?

When you identify situations that are going well, you are concentrating on something different and shifting your focus to a pleasant and positive state. The more you look for these positive situations, the more you will see.

#3 Acknowledge

When you see the positives that are happening around you, be sure to acknowledge them.

Tell people a heartfelt and specific thank you.

Say the positive situations out loud, so that you hear yourself recognizing them.

Write them down if you want.

When it can be all too easy to see everything that’s not going well, making the deliberate choice to look for and acknowledge the positives can be challenging at first, but the more you do it, the better you get. 


As you can probably tell, the three steps create an upward spiral.

It may not be easy at first to make these changes, especially on days when you feel the most challenged, but the more you do it, the easier it will become.