It might have made for a fitting closing number to Monty Python’s Life of Brian, but few would suggest that the answer to challenges and disappointments is always to look on the bright side. There’s no one- view-suits-all solution, after all, and there are times when realism, pessimism and even cynicism might have a valuable role to play.

Is it possible, however, for those who desire, to learn to anticipate different outcomes and picture setbacks within a more positive framework? This isn’t to ignore the difficulties when plans go awry or underestimate the frustration of goals not met, but more to accentuate elements where a measure of hopefulness might help to deliver different results in the future.

Imagine, for example, failing an accountancy exam. The blow is real. Money and time have been expended and, seemingly, for nought. But is there really nothing to be gained? Must it follow that tests are a personal no-no? What if a fraction of optimism were allowed into the equation? It might be that, yes, tests aren’t a strong point, but maybe a renewed effort and more revision could bring success next time.

Of course, like most things, when it comes to optimism, everyone’s different. Some have it by the bucketload, for others it’s a thimble-full. And not everyone can, needs or wants to keep the faith. It’s what makes humanity colourful, exciting and intriguing. But trying to accentuate and appreciate the positives, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant, can sometimes, if not always, brighten the way.