It’s important that you don’t pick major negative events for this exercise. For example, don’t pick “getting fired from work,” or “kid falling violently ill.” Although, as we saw from the “reminisce and reflect” exercise that even intensely negative events could in the long run lead to positive outcomes, it’s naturally difficult to look past the negativity of intensely negative events. In addition, the positive outcomes from such negative events usually take some time to unfold. For these reasons, for the purpose of this exercise, focus only on mildly negative events for this exercise—like misplacing a dollar, failing to find your favorite brand of cereal in the grocery store, or having to fill up gas when you are already late for work.
At first, may find it difficult to think of anything positive to come out of negative events. There is a good reason for this: when we think of something negative, our mind immediately thinks of other negative things. These negative thoughts blind you from seeing the positive outcome(s) triggered by negative event(s). But if you persevere, you will realize that almost every negative event triggers at least one positive event. The way to persevere is to ignore the negative thoughts triggered by the negative event and focus, instead, on replaying in your mind’s eye the consequences triggered by the negative event. By doing this, you are bound to identify at least one positive thing that came out of the negative event. This positive consequence may not fully compensate for the negative event, but it will at least lower the intensity of the negativity associated with the event.