Finding Optimism in Tough Times

With Thanksgiving this Thursday, it’s a good reminder that we have a lot to be thankful for in our communities.

In the midst of a persistent recession, it can be difficult to see the good in a bad situation. High unemployment, budget deficits and slow business activity can get us caught up in thoughts of doom and gloom. But last week I was reminded that despite the tough times, there are positive things to be found.

At a village council meeting last Monday evening, a coworker and I were talking about economic development ideas that could create some positive activity for this small town of about 500 people. It would have been easy to focus on vacant store fronts, declining population, and lost businesses, but instead the discussion centered on how to leverage the town’s assets to generate positive activity in the community.

During the discussion, we talked about Luther Snow’s Asset Connection Experience. The basic principle is that communities that focus on the assets they have rather than what they lack are better positioned to see great things happen. It’s a matter of seeing the glass three-quarters full of assets, instead of only half full, to generate momentum for positive outcomes. I was encouraged by the optimism in the room that night.

With Thanksgiving this Thursday, it’s a good reminder that we have a lot to be thankful for in our communities. Take some time this week to look for the positive things and if you have a minute share them in a comment below.

— Chris Thelen