This morning, while my wife and I were shoveling wood chips into a wheelbarrow, I came upon the creature you see in this picture. My initial response was to jump back a bit in a brief moment of fear. I’m not terrified of snakes, but I do have a healthy respect for them and an initial negative reaction when surprised by them. In the past, a more sustained version of my fear reaction has occasionally resulted in my killing of a few snakes, especially poisonous ones.

The vast majority of snakes in our area are actually beneficial, or at least not dangerous. I was able to chase this one into an open spot where we could take its picture to identify it. An internet search revealed it to be a garter snake, a very beneficial snake to have in your yard. (The remarkable blue eye seen in the picture is something that apparently appears when this type of snake is getting ready to shed its skin.) My attitude toward the snake shifted with the information that it was not dangerous. I now find myself feeling quite positive about this garter snake and wishing it the best.

So often when something seemingly negative first appears in our experience, we quickly react out of fear or strong emotion and try to rid ourselves of that experience or get caught up in focusing on how bad it is that this has happened to us.  We too often fail to pause to look for the good that could be hiding in an occurrence that at first appears negative.

Positive Intelligence author, Shirzad Chamine suggests a practice of asking, regarding a “negative” experience, “How could this occurrence be the very best thing that could have happened to me?”  Simply being open to asking that radical question and searching for answers to it can transform one’s experience of life.

How do you do at looking for “silver linings” in your “negative” experiences? If that is difficult for you, you are not alone. But the fact is that, if we are open to it, a “gift” can be found in every so-called negative experience. As a coach, I experience the joy of helping individuals to embrace this perspective. It truly transforms peoples’ lives. Try it! If you would like some help getting there, please get in touch.

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