“The best team won.” This is the overriding view of sports commentators, professional and amateur, throughout Australia after the British team retained The Ashes. Magnanimity in defeat is a quality that comes naturally to some and it is striking that it comes so easily in Australia (where coverage of their defeat has included fulsome praise for the British team) and to Australians (who seem to have a sunnier outlook than many Brits) even in the face of adversity. Sometimes it seems as if we, as a nation, find it hard to hide disappointment or acknowledge another country’s success against our own.

Finding a positive side, at home, at work and at leisure, can also seem impossible – yet doing so can help us get through difficulties with ease.

At work, decisions are made that contradict the wishes of many leaving some feel short-changed and, perhaps, a few feeling they can’t put up with their jobs any more. At home, disagreements over small things can turn minor issues into events that have enormous implications – perhaps splitting up relationships, severing contacts, changing lives. In down time in between, staying in control enough to cope with change can lead to an over-zealous approach to exercise, a compulsion to shop or clean, or a withdrawal from society.

Managing emotional reactions, improving performance and building resilience, can however be learned with guidance from a professional.

Meanwhile, as a new year begins, many of us make new year’s resolutions that are founded more in hope than in experience – and that are bound to be unattainable.

Setting realistic goals – moving at an achievable pace, one step at a time – is more likely to lead to success, whatever the overall aim. Yet many of us reach first for the final outcome – the equivalent of winning The Ashes – forgetting that there are several steps each Test to go through before the outcome is known.

Professional therapeutic support can help you work out which steps to take, and how to pace them, to achieve your new year’s resolution so you can face 2011 with as much of a positive outlook as Australians have towards the future of their cricket achievements.