Length of session


  • Understand the impact of positive and negative experiences on a person.
  • Define “positive attitude” and “negative attitude.”
  • Identify the impact of a person’s attitude on their thoughts and behavior when managing negative experiences and the resulting consequences.
  • Identify, demonstrate, and practice strategies to maintain a positive attitude.
  • Strengthen their ability to maintain a positive attitude.

Materials Needed

Visual means for recording ideas

(paper, chart paper, or white/chalk board and markers/chalk)

For Generating Interest in Topic

Create a realistic story describing a typical young person’s day in your country. His or her day should contain both positive and negative experiences, with more negative experiences than positive. The story might include experiences similar to those below. Select or describe experiences appropriate for the culture in which you are working. The story should take six or seven minutes to tell.

“…A friend promised to wake the young person. When the friend failed to follow through, the young person was late for school or work… While speaking with a store clerk, the young person casually mentions taking a class. The clerk informs him or her of a job opportunity that pays well for a candidate with the ability to read…The young person falls asleep before going to the market for groceries. He or she goes to school or work hungry… The young person receives a large tip as a reward for directing a driver to a convenient, economically priced, parking space… Unaware of a hole on the back of his pants, the young person is teased by another boy in the group. This boy’s comments encourage the mocking laughter of other group members. The young person arrives late to the bus stop and misses the bus that would get him or her to  school or work on time… After an outdoor party at home, the young person discovers money under a table… As a group of friends is tossing a ball back and forth; someone accidentally knocks down a passerby. The offended woman begins screaming and calling the young people names…..”

Create a visual with a vertical line down the centre

Label the left side with a “+” and the right side with a “.”


Demonstration and Discussion

duration of activity

Tell participants you will be describing a day in the life of a young person. As you describe the day, their job is to decide if the experiences the young person has are positive or negative. Explain that, as you tell the story, the participants are to raise their hand if something positive happens to the person in the story.

When you call on them, they are to identify the positive experience and you will write it under the  “+”.

Then explain that, as you tell the story, the participants are to raise their hand if something negative happens to the person in the story. When you call on them, they are to identify the negative experience and you will mark it under the  “–“.

This is an illustration of the impact of positive and negative experiences in a person’s life. The positive experiences boost our spirits and help us feel good about our lives. When a person faces many negative experiences, it’s easy to feel as if life is hard. A person may even feel helpless or hopeless. Without some strategies to handle negative experiences, life can be difficult to enjoy.

While events may be beyond our personal control, our attitude toward what happens is within our control. State that this session will explore the impact of positive and negative experiences and how our attitude can help us manage our lives even when negative experiences occur.

Optimism test and analyses

duration of activity

Ask participants to fill in the questionnaire. Support them if needed in the calculation of the scores.


duration of activity

Becoming known as a person who “tries” may draw the attention of employers, educators, and other people with the ability to help the individual succeed. By having a positive attitude, solutions may appear more frequently and easily. Life may feel less difficult. The strategy of taking a break increases the likelihood that a person can see the opportunities in a situation. A person with a positive attitude could gain the reputation in a group as a leader. A person with a positive attitude could help a friend. Lead a discussion with the large group by asking participants the following questions:  What makes it difficult to maintain a positive attitude? What can you do to help yourself maintain a positive attitude? Invite participants to silently respond to the following question.

Are there people in your life who help you maintain a positive attitude? If so, who are they? If not, who could you make friends with who might help you?

Optimism assessment

  • Learned Optimism Test

(adapted from Dr. Martin Seligman’s book, “Learned Optimism”) 1


The Instructions:

(paper, chart paper, or white/chalk board and markers/chalk)

There are forty-eight (48) questions in this evaluation test. Take as much time as you need to answer each of the questions. On average, this test takes about fifteen minutes. There are no right or wrong answers. Do NOT read the analysis in “Learned Optimism” until after you have completed this test.

Read the description of each situation and vividly imagine it happening to you. You have probably not experienced some of the situations, but that should not matter. Perhaps neither response will fit; bout go ahead and choose the cause likelier to apply to you.

You may not like the way some of the responses sound, but don’t choose what you think you should say or what would sound right right to other people; choose the response you’d be likelier to have.

– The Analysis:

The following analysis uses the rules spelled out in “Learned Optimism” by Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD. The score is listed after each category along with the Seligman assessment of your score.

  1. https://web.stanford.edu/class/msande271/onlinetools/LearnedOpt.html