Author Amy Spencer thought positive thinking was something everyone did. She thought people just naturally took a bad situation and flipped it around until they could see the good side.
She realized this was not the case.
That's not what people do, she said.
But the self-described optimist does not despair. She believes anyone can look on the bright side. All they need to do is practice.
To that end, she wrote Bright Side Up: 100 Ways to Be Happier Right Now, which is out in stores.
In her book, published by Penguin Group imprint Perigee Books, she lists ways in which people can take various bad situations -- or what may initially seem like bad situations -- and find the good in them.
The goal is to really give people tools to do just that, to learn how to flip their perspective in the everyday moments, she said.
Her previous book, Meeting Your Half-Orange, looked at optimism from a dating perspective. The feedback was so good, she said, that she decided to write another book that talked about life happiness.
One piece of advice she gives in Bright Side Up is Ask your one-hundred-year-old self.
Your one-hundred-year-old self will tell you if you're wasting your time on busywork or with phony people instead of spending quality time with people who matter, and if you're overanalyzing emails in your relationship or fighting when you should be fixing, Spencer wrote. So if you're feeling down on your life, stuck in a rut, or worried about pursuing your dreams, imagine your older self rocking on your front porch, a lifetime of experiences and great loves behind you. When that person looks back at you, what advice might they give you now?
Spencer believes this older self would be nice and encouraging.
That's the version of you that will be gentle and kind and caring but will also be the voice of conviction, she said.
Another bit of advice Spencer gives is Take the microphone. She wrote about a tiff she had with a mattress salesman who tried to swindle her out of what was supposed to be a refundable cash deposit. Spencer didn't want to be taken advantage of, and the thought that he might cheat someone else didn't make her happy.
It really set something off inside of me, she said.
So rather than care about what her fellow store customers thought, she yelled out to them and warned them against conducting business with this salesman.
I remember a lot of silence, she said.
The effort paid off, and she walked away not empty-handed.
Spencer doesn't doubt that some people in the store might have thought she was, well, nuts, but the experience was still really empowering and helped her to speak up more in life.
Spencer admits there are times when her optimism just wants to take a long nap, but she does practice what she preaches.
In her book, she is honest about her and her husband's efforts to conceive. While she admits the situation can push her to tears, she still sees the good side: Getting to spend the quality alone time with her husband they'd probably crave if their schedules were packed with kid activities.
I don't know where the road will lead, but I know that we will be happy, Spencer said. We will find a way to enjoy the life we have in front of us.
Spencer wants readers to know that even the most cynical person can become a positive thinker. It's just a matter of practice.
I hope that other people realize that they can do it too, she said. It is not hopeless at all.