Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

Happy Cheerios

The world is divided into optimists and pessimists. Some of you may think the way we view life is just part of our DNA, a personality trait. And perhaps it is. But maybe we can make a conscious decision to face the world in a more positive, optimistic way. Of course, we all need to be realistic and practical but I firmly believe that there are some definite benefits to a positive approach to life. Specifically, and for the purposes of this blog, I’m talking about approaching others around you in a positive way. Look not only on the bright side of life but strive to see the best in people and discover how this attitude may deliver you some unexpected treats.


We are all guilty of making snap judgements about people we meet in our day to day lives. And many of us are quick to make negative assumptions as well. This may be a natural, instinctive reaction to meeting someone new (a safety feature left over from our cavemen and women days) but it is also an attitude which fosters suspicion, distrust and unfriendliness. Now, I’m not saying you should become best friends with everyone you meet, nor invite strangers into your home or hand over your credit card details to that email sender who told you about your Nigerian lottery jackpot win. Wariness in some circumstances keeps us safe but in others, it puts up a barrier and prevents us from experiencing how much good there really is in the world.


Here in Cambodia I know a couple who mildly embody the polar opposites I’m trying to describe here. One of them is incredibly friendly, warm and welcoming, happy to meet new people and engage in conversations with anyone. It’s probably worth mentioning here that she works in hospitality. Her partner is not unfriendly or cold but he is more reserved when it comes to meeting and trusting new people. I’m not saying one way or the other is the right outlook to have on life; they’re simply different. Recently, this couple were betrayed by someone they had come to trust. Their reactions were starkly different and, in many ways, my optimistic, positive and open friend was hurt more. She had opened her home and her family to this person and felt the betrayal far deeper than her partner who had, in some ways, never trusted their betrayer in the first place.


When we feel like our trust has been broken, it can really knock our confidence and we may start to see the world more negatively. While we may previously have been open and friendly, we begin to be suspicious of those around us. This happened to my friend in the aftermath of her experience. She began to think that perhaps her partner was right, that she was too naïve, too trusting, too generous. Jaded, she headed into work, still her usual professional self but feeling a little deflated. But help was on the way.


We’ve all heard the expression ‘what goes around, comes around’ and this is one of those serendipitous examples which hands me a blog topic on a silver platter. Over a month before, my friend had been talking to a customer about the lack of Cheerios for sale in our town. Yes, I mean the breakfast cereal, and yes, this is what happens when you’re an expat – strange home comforts become entire conversation topics. Offhandedly, the customer, a complete stranger, told my friend she would bring some down from Phnom Penh the next time she visited. But it was just a throwaway comment; one neither of them expected to come to fruition. The day after my friend’s confidence in the world and people as fundamentally good was knocked, in walked this customer, six weeks later, carrying a box of Cheerios.


The world is full of good people and if you are kind to them, they will show kindness to you. It really is as simple as that. My friend doesn’t talk to customers visiting Kampot for the weekend to recruit a team of people to bring her supplies from the capital city (although I have no doubt that she could). She’s just friendly and conversational. But this attitude and warmth is remembered and appreciated and it makes people want to do good in return. Ok, some people don’t have this ethos and their actions may hurt or betray us. Fundamentally however, if we treat people kindly, they’ll reciprocate even if it just means buying a box of cereal. A positive outlook not only makes life more enjoyable but also increases your chances of having positive experiences with those around you.


And finally, yes I have included a video to the song which ends one of the best movies of all time and inspired this blog title. For all Monty Python fans out there, enjoy. For those of you who don’t know Monty Python, allow me to introduce you right now … Spoiler alert; this is the final scene of Life of Brian. I suppose you could say this gives away the ending.


Go. Watch. Laugh. More Good Deeds.