Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Kasey Barrow / Canva

How Pat’s Positivity In “Silver Linings Playbook” Inspires A Healthy Mindset

*Warning: mild spoilers ahead*

In books, movies, television shows or other forms of entertainment, characters and storylines are created with a purpose. They can teach us more about ourselves, or help us to understand the complexities of those around us. 

In 2012, Matthew Quick’s novel, “The Silver Linings Playbook,” was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Directed by David O. Russell, the film plot had some major changes in comparison to Quick’s novel. However, there is one captivating, undeniable constant in the storyline— the main character, Pat. 

With plot differences aside in the film and novel, the story depicts the life of Pat, who suffers from bipolar disorder, and was recently released from a psychiatric hospital. He has moved back in with his parents— who are still wary of his mental state and have a minimal understanding of how to handle it. Pat has one goal: to get back with his estranged wife, Nikki. He believes that if he shows discipline, gets in shape, reads enough books and becomes an overall better person, he will be able to save his marriage. This goal fuels his positive mindset and helps him search for the best parts of a bad situation— or as Pat calls them, “silver linings.”

“What am I gonna do? I'm getting in shape, I'm getting trim, I'm getting really fit for Nikki. I'm gonna read Nikki's teaching syllabus and get my old job back.” -Pat

To everyone else, it is obvious that Nikki is not coming back. His family tells him that she has left town and moved on. Pat’s distorted sense of reality rejects that what he is hearing is the truth. He demands that no one knows anything about his marriage. Despite the frustration that this brings to those around him, his goal-oriented mindset and personal mantras can be seen as admirable, although his end goal is flawed. 

“This is what I believe to be true. This is what I learned in the hospital. You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you do, if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.” -Pat

His positivity is magnetic, and he quickly becomes an easy character to root for. His hopefulness is endearing— almost child-like. In his pursuit to reunite with Nikki, his lifestyle completely changes, as he is now reading Hemingway and jogging around the neighborhood every day in a trash bag. 

“It means you know what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna take all this negativity and use it as fuel and I'm gonna find a silver lining, that's what I'm gonna do. And that's no bullshit. That's no bullshit. That takes work and that's the truth.” -Pat

While he is hyper-fixated on Nikki, something is falling into place right in front of him— something much more suitable for him. He is introduced to his best friend’s sister-in-law, Tiffany, a widow, who deals with mental health issues of her own. Pat insists that he is nothing like Tiffany, and sees her as a distraction rather than a friend. 

In his search for silver linings, he gets many of them— just not the one he was hoping for. He realizes that getting Nikki back is not what is right for him, and he gladly surrenders to the other plans that the universe had for him.  

To everyone else, Pat’s plan on how to get his life back on track may have seemed unrealistic or impractical. His goal of getting Nikki back was established out of clouded judgment, but there is something to be said for the means he goes about achieving it. His journey of personal growth and self-motivation can teach some valuable life lessons. The world may have a whole other plan laid out, but despite all of the negativity, there is meaning in hard work and searching for the silver linings.

“Once you get in the right frame of mind, I think anything's possible. I think we get, we so often get caught in this state of negativity and it's a poison like nothing else.” -Pat

In 2020 especially, nothing is for certain, but our minds are set on the future. Just because we do everything we can in the pursuit of self-improvement, it doesn’t mean that what we are bettering ourselves for is right for us. The hard work may just pay off in a different way, and Pat shows us that it is okay to accept that. 



Edited by Rachel Johnson

Kasey is a senior at West Virginia University from Elkton, Maryland. She is majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Strategic Social Media, Sport Communications and Fashion Merchandising. She loves writing, being outdoors, listening to music and going to concerts. Most importantly, she is an avid Katy Perry fan. In the future, she hopes to do PR for a sports team.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️