I'm a professional optimist. Which means I seek out the positive in human experience and help others do the same--because, as I write about in my newest book, Bright Side Up: 100 Ways to be Happier Right Now [Penguin, $15.00], if you can learn to view some of your negative experiences from a more positive perspective, you'll feel happier today and more hopeful about tomorrow.
That's what optimism is, after all: a belief that your life is going to work out for the best. However sad or challenging an experience might feel in the moment, there is a benefit to be gained. Centuries of literature have taught us this lesson over and over. I've even come across this brand of optimism in books that may not seem so positive on the surface--everything from Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction to young adult novels to straight-talking dating books. Here are seven of the most positive life messages I've found in some pretty surprising books.