7 Tips to Find the Silver Lining Within Yourself

Just about any problematic personality trait can magically be turned into your greatest strength - as long as you can believe it.

Dec 15, 2014
Every cloud has a silver lining

Every cloud has a silver lining (Shutterstock)

The idiom “every cloud has a silver lining” is a beautiful image, representing an attitude of finding the positive in any situation - no matter how challenging it might be. It’s more than just believing that good things are to come - it’s an understanding that every negative is actually a positive, depending on how you see it.
The more scientifically-minded will be happy to know that this is more than just word play - it’s the subject of some interesting recent research out of NYU. Dubbed “silver lining theory,” the concept holds that some 90% of people believe that their negative traits are actually strengths in disguise - and it’s that very belief that makes them work harder at developing that positive attribute.
Read on see the silver lining within yourself, every day - no matter who you are.

SHY = REFLECTIVE

Do you prefer the company of a few close friends over a pumping party? Wait for someone else to speak before raising your hand? It could be that you’re shy - but that means you’re also reflective.
SILVER LINING: You take your time before rushing in with an answer, and like to think things over alone or with the people closest to you. This calm, contemplative quality can be further cultivated by writing, or by taking up a meditation practice.

Contemplation

Contemplating the day gone by (Shutterstock)

DISORGANIZED = CREATIVE

Your clothes are more at home on your bedroom floor rather than they are in the wardrobe, your bills live in piles on the counter and your inbox is overflowing - sound familiar? Sure, you could be a bit disorganized - but you’re also highly creative, and naturally see the beauty in the chaos of life around you.
SILVER LINING: You know how to lose yourself in a creative flow - whether it’s visual art, writing, or decorating your apartment, and this flair rubs off on the people around you. Nurture your creative side with this beautifully-designed infographic.

Painting a wall

Life is a canvas (Shutterstock)

IMPULSIVE = SPONTANEOUS

Quick decisions are second nature to you - and plans tend not to sit quite so well. You buy presents on a whim, call old friends when they pop into your mind, and send emails without much of a second thought. Sure, many would call you impulsive - but they probably also love how spontaneous you can be.
SILVER LINING: Saturday night and nothing planned - no worries! You’re always quick to come up with ideas for last-minute fun, and can rush to help a friend on a moment’s notice if needed. Embrace this flowy side of your personality - you’ll probably find that your loved ones really value it, too.  

A happy couple with umbrellas

Singing in the rain (Shutterstock)

INTIMIDATING = ASSERTIVE

Ever been called the “life of the party”? Chances are, people also find you intimidating from time to time - but that’s okay. Your strong, confident energy points to your assertive nature - and that’s something you can put to use in both your personal and your professional life.
SILVER LINING: Along with standing up for yourself, you can use your strong, clear voice to speak up on issues close to your heart. Connect with other assertive personalities with these TED talks that spark social change.

Strong confident woman

The world is your oyster (Shutterstock)

IRRESPONSIBLE = ADVENTUROUS

Do you often misplace your things? Forget to return phone calls? Maybe even miss a deadline here and there? You might be aware that you’re a touch on the irresponsible side - but it’s likely just because your head has already moved on to your next adventure.
SILVER LINING: Being tied down isn’t really your thing as you’d rather be out exploring - in your hometown or around the world. Infuse a sense of adventure into everything you do - it’ll fuel your passion and bring out the silver lining of this personality trait.

Exploring the great outdoors

Exploring the great outdoors (Shutterstock)

STUBBORN = PERSISTENT

If you know you’re right, you’ll never back down - and why should you? You’ve got a point to prove! This quality might aptly be labelled stubbornness, but it can also be seen as persistence if applied to something worthwhile.
SILVER LIVING: If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly - right? You can use your strong, dedicated force of will to tackle difficult projects head on and keep going until your goal is achieved. Looking for something to sink your teeth into? Browse this toolkit for good doers for inspiration.

Practicing karate at sunset

Practice makes perfect (Shutterstock)

INFLEXIBLE = ORGANIZED

Everything has its place - and if something changes it can throw your entire day out of whack. This tendency towards inflexibility might make dealing with the inevitable changes of day-to-day life a challenge - but the flip side is that you are supremely organized.
SILVER LINING: Your organizational skills can have many positive applications - from keeping your own life in order and getting the most out of every minute to running a business which has a positive impact on the world at large.

Organized business woman

Getting things done (Shutterstock)

Don’t see your your personality on this list? You can try the silver lining exercise yourself - you probably already know which of your character traits have a flipside that you can use to do good. Be kind to yourself in your analysis, and tell us about it in the comments below.

As well as managing Goodnet.org, Elana writes happy headlines with a particular focus on yoga, meditation and family matters. She has a background in online journalism and web content.

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