Is your glass half-empty or half-full? When events go wrong in your life, do you automatically go into ‘victim mode’ — saying “How typical that bad things always happen to me!”

Or are you one of those people who can see things from different perspectives and then move on. When events do inevitably go wrong in your life, do you assess why it happened and take the positive learning that comes out of it?

Do you see yourself as a positive or a negative person? Many people actually don’t recognise when they are being negative as it just becomes a way of life to them. They are negative in themselves and they are also negative towards others. They know how to criticise but they never know how to compliment.

Words of encouragement

Ahmad has just written a 1,000 word report and asks Johan, his manager, to give him his opinion on it. Johan reads it and the first thing he does is to criticise it. No mention of ‘well done for getting your thoughts together’, or ‘there is some excellent content here but I would add a few ideas’. The first thought that comes to his mind is to criticise — so how does that impact on the author, Ahmad? We can imagine how deflated he feels. Having spent three hours on his report, he then receives no word of acknowledgement on the positive aspects of his work, only the negative.

Ahmad has, therefore, two alternatives: he can either get upset about this and feel demoralised which is probably what will happen. Or alternatively, he can lower his expectation of his boss which means that he will never expect any positive words from him and so he won’t be surprised at the negative response.

This is a damaging scenario that impacts on productivity, but is sometimes how we have to manage. We need to know what is it about Johan that makes it hard for him to find something positive to say to Ahmad. The chances are that he has a negative mindset himself and so this is passed onto other people. He is probably the same at home with his family and never appreciates the good things that happen but is always complaining about the challenges that we all face in all our lives. [It would be interesting to ask his family!] This means that Johan will never be an easy person with whom to live or work.

However, unless someone encourages him to adopt a positive attitude, he will continue in the same way all his life and in all his relationships. It is possible that his negative attitude may even affect his physical and mental health. In fact, the positive results that typically come from an optimistic attitude is a key part of effective stress management.

The good news is that positive skills can be learnt but one has first to be self-aware of inherent negative traits in order to replace them.

Being positive doesn’t mean that you pretend that there is nothing wrong in the world. However, a positive attitude means that you approach life’s challenges in a more productive way and you tend to work towards the idea that the best is going to happen, rather than the worst.

Positive thinking starts with self-talk. This should be based upon logic, reason or information. When these thoughts are predominantly negative then you will tend to act in a pessimistic way but the result is reversed when your thoughts are positive.

Your choice

So which one would you rather be? I guess you would rather say ‘positive’. So let us look at the following facts:

Positive thinkers usually:

• Are emotionally resilient to deal better with stress, risk, loss, grief and other challenges

• Have an optimistic outlook of life

• Possess a stronger immune system

• Are more robust both psychologically and physiologically

The reality is that life is not always easy but I suggest to you that positive thinking gives you a strong belief in your abilities and your approach to problems and, therefore, enables you to make the most out of any bad situation.

When things go wrong in your life, search for ways in which you can improve the situation and always try to learn from the experience.

Good luck and why not try saying something nice to someone today!

— The author is a BBC Guest-Broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international Stress Management consultancy and her new book, ‘Show Stress Who’s Boss!’ is available in all good bookshops.