A Simple Trick to Improve Positive Thinking


Why do failure and rejection seem to stick in our minds longer than success? In this TED Talk, Alison Ledgerwood, a social psychologist and professor, explains why our minds have the tendency to gravitate toward the negative and reveals three simple techniques that you can use to find the bright side.

The Learning Upshot

After completing the work on this page, you will be able to:

  • Comprehend that we tilt toward a negative outlook of the world
  • Realize the power of gain and loss framing
  • Experiment with 3 techniques to boost your bright side

Watch the Video

Make It Actionable

Now it’s time to personalize it. Give this concept some momentum in the workplace and your own life by completing the following:

  1. Recall something negative and something positive that happened to you recently. How long did the negative feelings stick with you versus the positive? Why is that?
  2. Think of a something at work that you need to communicate. How can you apply a “gain frame” to it (as opposed to a “loss frame”)? How might this impact how the message is received?
  3. On a scale of 1 to 5, rate your own gain frame tendencies, that is, your propensity to experience life on the bright side. 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree
    • I give myself grace when I make mistakes
    • I assume good intent in others
    • I see the world as glass half full
    • I bounce back quickly from setbacks
    • My inner voice is mostly positive self-talk
  4. Try it out for yourself. The speaker identifies 3 actions you can take to reframe your mindset to the bright side. Choose one of these techniques and try it out for a week.
    • Gratitude Journaling (be grateful) – Take a few minutes each day to write down what you’re thankful for.
    • Rehearse the Good (practice positivity) – Talk about the good stuff and share it with others.
    • Share it Out in the Community (show grace) – If someone snaps at you, cuts you off in traffic, or otherwise upsets you, forgive them.
  5. Reflect on this experience: a) How did applying this technique affect your personal bright side? b) How did your application of this technique affect or influence others? c) How can you continue to nurture your bright side?
  6. Bonus (optional): 1) Teach your team at work the importance of the “gain framing”. Identify and implement techniques to make this happen, and/or 2) Try all 3 techniques. After you have completed all of them, reflect on these questions:
    • How easy or difficult was this challenge for you?
    • What did you discover about yourself?
    • What did you try that you are going to keep doing?
    • What did others notice about you trying new things? If it’s not obvious, ask them.

Want More?

Dig deeper on this topic with the following resources:




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