Look for the positive: a story of three good things + a printable card download for you

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life, Free Downloads54 Comments

One of the things I’ve been doing since starting therapy nearly four years ago is working to eliminate the negative in my life.

Now before you think I’m talking about getting rid of negative people or negative situations or negative influences, let me stop you: I’m talking about getting rid of the negative behaviors in me. Negative behaviors encompass all sorts of tasty things. Things like being evaluative and judgmental. Things like being completely self-absorbed. Things like only seeing my perspective. I could go on and on, but that’s what I pay my therapist for.

The good news is that the work is really starting to pay off. The bad news is that I’ve lived so long with negative behaviors as my normal, that living in the positive is something very new and sometimes pretty tricky. In fact, it’s something that I actually know very little about.

Living in the positive isn’t about being happy and always having a kind word to offer. It’s more about living in a life-affirming, nurturing, responsible and loving way. And yes, that’s a pretty foreign world to this girl.

Both Dan and I are working this process in ways that are unique to us both. (Hey, that’s a positive!) His work and my work, while there are convergences, let’s just say we each have our own version of normal to unravel.


As I’ve worked to make changes over the years, one thing I’ve discovered is that when you really start to shift how you respond to your life, it feels weird. It feels yucky. It feels not like you at all. It actually feels pretty threatening.

For example, I used to cling to the idea that I was high strung. I was just emotional. I was over the top. I was too sensitive. I was a regular Sarah Bernhardt. You name it, that was me.

It was just the way I was. I had no choice in the matter.

Without getting too therapy-esque, the fact is that while we are born with a certain bill of innate goods, we can use those goods for, well, good, or not so good.

I cultivated the not so good and then just conveniently brushed it all off with, “Well, that’s just the way I am.”

Imagine my surprise to learn that I didn’t have to freak out if something didn’t go my way. That I could really think clearly and look at facts and make a choice in how to respond?

(Side note: yeahโ€ฆthat only took about two years to actually put into regular and consistent practice, if you’re wondering.)

Long story short: kind of like trying to lose weight, making personal changes doesn’t always feel good, but the rewards can be nothing short of miraculous, even though they’re simply based in real life stuff.

So the other night, Dan read me this article called “Stop Glossing Over the Good Stuff (How to be Positive),” and it really resonated with me in terms of living in the positive, so I wanted to share the link with you.

The reason is because in the midst of making changes, because it feels weird, because it doesn’t feel like you, it’s very easy to do things to take you back to something that does feel like you. For me, one way would be finding something to complain about. Even in a life that really is pretty amazing when you break it all down, finding things to complain about is something that ties me to the old me and serves to make me feel more normal. But that version of normal is not actually the person I want to be.

This article reminds me that complaining, like many other behaviors, is a habit and habits can be changed.

The article asks you to consider three good things to your day, every day.

Dan and I have both started doing this together and much like consciously practicing gratitude, it reframes your thinking to look for things that add to your life, instead of the things that detract from it. It reminds you how even the smallest of positive things can affect your day. And, it encourages you to really seek them out consciously.

See what you think.

It’s a long article, but I really liked what the writer had to say.

If you’re so inclined, download this simple, printable PDF of 3 x 4 cards. Maybe you’ll want to document three good things in your day.

Download ThreeGoodThingsCards

Thanks for reading. I don’t have all the answers but sometimes I feel compelled to share the things I’m working on beyond how to recolor a PNG file.

Have a greatโ€”and positiveโ€”day.



Cathy ZielskeLook for the positive: a story of three good things + a printable card download for you

54 Comments on “Look for the positive: a story of three good things + a printable card download for you”

  1. #2

    Thanks for sharing that awesome post. Positivity is something I think about a lot, but don’t necessarily implement it in my daily living, even though I would like to. Listing 3 good things each day would be a definite step in the right direction. First on my list is…Got another great freebie from CZ…

  2. #3

    Thanks Cathy for sharing this article. It was very interesting and definitely shows a simple yet effective way to change our negative habits. I am going to try to list 3 good things, although I am sure I will feel the same way you do since the negative is much more my ‘normal’! Thanks for sharing your own experiences!
    Patti ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. #4
    Judy Webb

    So Happy….you are paying for therapy and we are getting it free. So much of what you said today, applies to me. Thank you for sharing.

  4. #5
    Laura A in Oregon

    Great article, Cathy. I am a pretty positive person, but I can always use a reminder- especially sharing the positive things that co-workers do and not always complain. Thanks, Cathy, I’m printing it off and sharing this link with others!

  5. #6

    Thank you for sharing, Cathy! I loved the article, and your perspective as well. Finding things to celebrate each day is something I work on and am hoping to pass along to my children. Thank you for the cards, they will make a beautiful addition to my Project Life book!

  6. #7
    Missus Wookie

    Great article.

    I just sent it to my dh who is also trying to temper his negativity. We’ve been doing a family gratitude journal since doing your 30 days of Thankful last year. I’d planned it for me alone but when I mentioned it at dinner dh & ds both declared that it would be ‘impossible’ to come up with 30 reasons for being thankful… I’ve just ordered the album and page protectors to do another year’s worth of PL based gratitudes. Both dh & ds still think it is hard but also think it is worth it – baby steps I assure them ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. #9
    audrey v

    Thank you for the cards, and for sharing your experience. It is something that I need to work on. Thanks to you, I am doing 30 days of gratitude, and I already feel more positive. You’re the best!

  8. #10

    Thanks for sharing the article and your thoughts with us. I’m struggling to make changes into that direction as well and I agree, it’s a challenge (see – I wanted to type ‘difficult’ but reconsidered that choice ^^). I am a constant worrier. I worry about now, later, tomorrow and the rest of my life. And it’s certainly not helping me, as they say: Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Best wishes from over the pond ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. #12
    Kendra B

    Thank you for the download, an article that I really needed to read, and for sharing what you’re going through. Its given me lots to think about and has made a huge difference in how my day was going ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. #13
    Kristi K.

    Thanks! Immediately forwarded it to my hubby. Would like my kids to read it as well, but I’m not a fan of “you’re being a dick” being part of our daily lexicon, which would happen if they read it ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. #15

    Nina, I too, had the worry issue. Then one day my therapist told me: stop worrying about your husband lying dead in a ditch somewhere until you get a call that says, Hes dead in a ditch. THEN, you can deal with it and do what is needed. I cant really tell you why it helped me to stop worrying, but it did. It made me stay connected to the present. To see what is right in front of me. Good luck! : )

  12. #17

    Funny, I’m trying to do the same thing, I’ve only been in therapy for a month so I’m nowhere near where you are but same thing. I had to buy a book to read to try and understand *how* to be positive and how to change my negative type thoughts into somthing productive and how to just be kind to myself. It sounds kind of strange to say that I don’t know how to do that, but I’m taking steps to learn. I can’t wait to read this article!

  13. #18

    Great article! I am also a recovering complainer. I am trying hard every day to focus on the positive, and I think it will really help me to have a tool of the “three things” to stop myself when I feel a complaint about to sneak out. Thanks!

  14. #19
    Kim K

    What a great reminder for all of us!! Thanks for making us think and hopefully want to continue to better ourselves!! Can’t wait to read the article and use the awesome cards. I could fill the whole week, every week of my Project Life album with appreciation!!

  15. #20

    Thank you for sharing this. Its right on time for me. We moved to CA about 3 yrs ago, and I miss my family/friends so much that all I can think about is how much I hate this place and the people in it. Recently I realized that once I learn to appreciate my life here and now that I might even one day get an opportunity to relocate back east. Your post here reminds me of this.

    Thank you.

  16. #21
    Nat-Tea, Cake and Make

    This is great Cathy, as someone who has struggled with mental health issues since my teens (half of my life now, scary to think!) I really applaud you for being open and honest about everything.

    Am thinking of you and support you all in your journeys to feel somewhat better x

  17. #22

    Thank you for writing this. I remember reading a few years ago that we give ourselves permission to behave as we do, the good and the not so good and that we can take away the permission to act up and give ourselves permission to think and rationalise. I found that immensely helpful. You are so correct that we can find comfort in our usual patterns, even the negative ones.

    Thank you for the downloads, they are beautiful, they will make a wonderful addition to my PL album.


  18. #23
    dawny dee

    these are my favorite cathy posts. real, true and validating. thanks so very much for sharing your journey. you are probably helping more people than you will ever know. love your sense of humor and clarity .. as well as your generosity.

  19. #24

    Hi Cathy, haven’t read the article yet, but am looking forward to doing that later at home. Funny how something like this comes along and you can think of someone who could use this info (and then as an afterthought – oh me too!) I’m printing out the cards! Thanks

  20. #26

    Oh my. So much to say (and I haven’t even taking time to read the articles yet). When ever I want to make changes, the old me says “Change back. This is uncomfortable!” It’s such a natural response to change, I think. The old, even if bad, is familiar. You know where your going and how it is going to feel even if it is BAD. It’s like company or family you don’t really want to entertain but you do know how to get through it. Certainity is better than the unknown…. (us control freaks have trouble with the unknown).

    As for three things….

    They are “five things” in my house. Every day, no matter how shitty (and we all have them), there are at least five things to be happy grateful about. We started “five things” when my then young, the-glass-is-half-empty son could not understand when I said “count your blessings.” I told him he always had a mother that loved him, a daddy that loved him, and a brother that loved him so all he really had to do is come up with two things to be happy/thankful about (and they could be that he has a bed to get in and stuffed animal to hug). It worked! Now, when we do five thing, there is often many, many more. It has been such a joy to watch it develop over time. I’m hoping all your readers begin the pracice. I firmly believe it makes a difference.

  21. #28

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your timing is absolutely perfect.

    Long story short, I am going through a breakup with someone I really care about. His glass is half empty ALL THE TIME. After five years of really, really working on it, mine is half full 90 percent of the time. And if it isn’t, I find a reason for it to be half full–I am becoming the champion of the silver lining. I am struggling letting go of this relationship, but he does not want to change. And I want my life to be positive.

    You reminded me of all the reasons why I need to let go and move on with this post and this link. Thank you so very much.

  22. #30

    I so needed this today. I love how you can spin it around as it relates to you diet as well. I need to join your move more eat less, but I feel like if I add “one more thing”…I’m going to break! So I have been practicing “say NO,” which also feels like the opposite for “positive” sometimes. But I know, it truly helps me be more positive because I will have time to breathe and remember…I feel like we all rush around so much, there isn’t TIME. Time to remember to slow down and not shove your food in your face as fast as possible. Taking the time to be positive, for me, is the start of it all. its like going back to basics. Then I can really think and consciously CHOOSE to exercise, I CHOOSE to be positive. THANK YOU!

  23. #31

    I know that you don’t write for the purpose of being inspirational, or necessarily with the intent to be. But your honesty and willingness to share what is a long, hard, transformative process with us is really generous and I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate it. You’re doing a good thing – ultimately for you, but you’re giving a lot of us a nudge in the right direction, too.

    P.S. I still think you should come east to see Hedwig. Seriously. Do it.

  24. #32

    Did you see Lisa Bearnson’s blog post today about “The Clicker”? Interesting idea for positive thinking. Can’t wait to read the article when my son is “resting”.

  25. #33
    Anne Marie

    I admire how you share small personal things like this with such and ease. I think that is why I love your scrapping texts, you have such an honest and meaningful style.

    Thank you for the printable cards!

  26. #34
    Kim L

    Thanks for sharing! Loved the article – I’m a my glass is half full kind of person, but geez it is so easy to get into the complaining rut. Love the idea of three good things!

  27. #35

    Wonderful articles and thoughts. I appreciate the nudge. Working on the Thankful album alongside you and this will help to reinforce positive thinking. I like it!

  28. #36

    I look to blogs for creative inspiration from people I assume are living nearly perfect lives because they have time to blog about their productivity and success and bliss. These people are cooks who present magnificent, organic, healthy beautiful meals to their families every night. These people are artists who have tapped into their zone and continually produce their craft and then write about the joy and self satisfaction that came with that achievement. These people are not any people that I know personally and, as such, I know nothing about the real lift struggles they may (or may not) face. So, each day, I click through email updates from strangers and inexplicably judge myself. That’s what was happening when I read your FB post today. All I’m trying to do today is clean out some cabinets and find that watch my husband bought, never wore and now cannot find. Judgement: why are we so disorganized? Judgement: why am I reading FB instead of figuring out what to do with all these Sharpee markers and binder clips? Cathy, you knocked all the weight of negativity off my shoulders today. One way was by writing a brave, honest post that realigned my assumptions a little and made me like you more and judge myself less. Another way was by making me pause to consider my knee jerk reactions to things, which is, very often, negative. Suffice to say, I wasn’t always this way but shaped by life experiences to guard my heart and mind against life’s hard punches. I began to anticipate the next big hit and to live in a defensive posture. And now, it’s kind of stuck. I absolutely do keep an eye out for the negative. You made an impact on me today. And from you, through me, hopefully to more. Thank you for your honestly and bravery.

  29. #38
    Heather Dreith

    Thank you for the reminder to be more positive/grateful. The article was very good and thank you for the cute reminder cards! You are one of my 3 good things today. Another was getting to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage on an errand trip and a third was getting a call from the company that did a huge scanning project for me saying it was done. Now I can take a road trip with my hubby to pick everything up!

  30. #39

    Thank you for the reminder! You are awesome! Love reading your blog….it always has a positive spin!

  31. #40

    Wow, Joan. Thank you for your post. : ) You know, life does shape us. Thats a fact. We dont start out negative and neurotic. Thats also a fact. I love my completely imperfect life. And some days, even when I hate it, I still love it if that makes any sense. : )

  32. #42

    I love this idea. I struggle with feeling negative at times and my husband helps boost me back up. I keep saying I’m going to read The Power of Positive Thinking and other books like that but I haven’t so far. {sigh}

  33. #43
    Annet M

    I shared the article on fb. I hope my hubby reads it – I will prod him to if he hasn’t. He is such a negative person sometimes and it drives me insane. He thinks I am too positive but I think I have a good balance. Indeed, like the author writes, we have so much in our lives to actually be positive about, why focus on the tiny things instead of the great things?!
    Thanks SO much for sharing it.

  34. #44

    Thank you Cathy! Can’t wait to read it. Sounds like we’ve been on the same path for awhile:) Hard work indeed!”Change is Hard!!” as I’ve learned on my weight loss journey with The Healthy Weigh at http://www.healthyweigh.com AMAZING program!! I’ve lost 52 lb since April. It’s all in our thinking!! Been taking classes and trying to change my negative thinking that has been there for as long as I can remember! Thank you so much for the download – can’t wait to use it!!! You rock!!! Stay Positive!

  35. #45

    Cathy, I got so much out of your post, and so much from the article!!!

    What Joan said above is so beautiful, and true.

    This feels like a sincere hug.

  36. #46

    Thank you Cathy for linking this article, it was a fantastic read. Running our own business and having a young child, trying to balance everything often leaves myself and my husband focusing on the not so good aspects of our lives. When in fact we are very fortunate indeed. I am going to get my husband to read this article and aim to try and make the 3 good things a habit for both of us.

    Thanks once again.

  37. #47

    Thank you for sharing this article! Such a good read! And a great reminder that I need to be more aware of things when I get to be negative. Thank you for sharing so much about yourself and your personal struggles to change into a person you more want to be… It’s inspiring me to work on doing the same

  38. #48

    I am not sure if I agree with the positivity approach… It seems to be a very American thing. lol Be positive in the face of adversity etc. I am not even sure what that is supposed to mean. Trying to tell yourself that everything is just peachy when in fact it’s not. I do however agree that as a grown-up it’s one’s responsibilty to try and stay contructive and active and always look for options to change a situation instead of avoiding problems, blaming others etc. Embrace life with its good and bad aspects.

  39. #49

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the article ๐Ÿ™‚ It made me realize that I also constantly complain and not see the better things around me. A really big thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. #50

    But I love it when you teach us how to recolor a PNG file! Oh, and the article was really good too.

  41. #51
    Abby P.

    Thank you for passing your insight along — there’s one person I tend to complain about a LOT, and it really only hurts one person: me! Going to stop doing that. Really, great and helpful blog post! Thanks again.

  42. #53
    Katie B

    I used to be the opposite of the strong personalities I was with. My mother is incredibly negative, nothing is good enough, everyone is bad (except her grandson) and we are all doomed. With mom I am nearly a Pollyanna at times. My dad was Mr. Positive. Never seemed worried, or upset. The world was wonderful, there was always a long list of things to be grateful for. When I was with him I found myself being negative at times, the yin to his yang.

    Now that he is gone I try to be positive but sometimes its difficult to recount the day without going into the litany of woes. Thanks for reminding me to keep it positive.

  43. #54

    great article & thanks for the cute card printables – hoping my family will enjoy listing 3 things with me!

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