Look On The Bright Side

The main focus of this unit is on how the importance for our wellbeing on how we
perceive, interpret and respond to the events that happen to us. Research has found
that it is not necessarily the events or situations we experience throughout life that
negatively impact on our mental wellbeing but crucially how we interpret, perceive
or think about these events. For example, how one person reacts to becoming
pregnant, starting a new job, having an accident or getting a divorce may vary
greatly from the next person as it depends on whether they perceive the life event
as a positive or a stressful one. Professor Aaron Antonovsky believed that our ability
to manage stressful situations and stay well often depended on how we perceived,
interpreted and ‘made coherent sense of’ these experiences. Encouraging children
to understand how their thinking impacts on their feelings and behaviour, how to
look at things from different perspectives and develop good reasoning and
questioning skills are all helpful for challenging negative or limiting patterns of
thinking. Another way to change unhelpful patterns of thinking is by consciously
focusing on things that you perceive are going well in your life (i.e. what you are
thankful for).
Research has found that daily reflections on gratitude can significantly
improve people’s mood, wellbeing and even alleviate depression.

Key messages to communicate
1. The way you think can affect the way you feel.
In this section, children are encouraged to raise awareness of how their thinking can
influence our feelings and behaviour. Using the example of the Helpful Thinking Helmet,
it encourages children to develop skills to question and challenge some of the
unhelpful thinking that can negatively impact on our wellbeing.

2. There are different ways of looking at the same thing.
This section explores how we can all look at the same situation from different
perspectives. It uses the Big Deal/Little Deal classroom activities to help develop our
skills of reasoning and reflection to help us to better make sense of the setbacks and
daily hassles we may experience.

3. Focusing on what you are grateful for can help.
This section is about helping children to cultivate ‘an attitude of gratitude’ through a
range of different classroom activities. A focus on the positive things in our life or what
we are grateful for has been associated with improved wellbeing and is a helpful tool
for children to have in their toolkit.

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