The robins came to our apple trees last week, landing like a cloud on the topmost branches, and nibbling on the shriveled fruit from last year.

For me, the arrival of the robins is the opening act of spring.

I love this time of year almost as much as summer, fall, spring and early winter. Not so much because of the weather but because of how people respond to it. Some people are stoic. Others are simply bemused or panicky. There’s a large group of what you might called “habitual complainers,” who live for this time of year.

In February, the supermarkets and coffee shops are alive with a symphony of grumbling. We talk about slippery roads, misbehaving snow blowers and ice dams. We talk about the darkness and the cold and the trips south we should have taken.

As winter progresses, we move as a herd through a succession of moods. It starts with the excitement at the return of snow and the hope that we’ll have a white Christmas. By mid-January, we’re in the shoulder-shrug stage. It’s here. We can’t stop it. We’ve seen it all before. Nothing left but to wait it out, crank up the heat and put on an extra sweater.

The shrugging doesn’t last long. By mid-February, our good cheer and patience is wearing thin at the edges, and each week seems to bring a new and darker mood. We’re weary one week, disbelieving the next. Then we slide quickly toward frustration and exhaustion.

Mostly, we hunker down as best we can, determined to survive to those blessed days when the sun and warmth return to this land of the frozen tundra.

By early March, most of us are reduced to just three options. One is a complete breakdown of mental health and social order. The second is to move away. And finally, there is the option of embracing the power of positive thinking. I strongly recommend the last.

This is the time to intentionally pull away from the murmuring revolt that surrounds you on all sides. It’s a time to seek out the faces and voices of the incurably positive. They’re not as obvious as the complainers, but if you can train your ear to hear them, you will.

People with a cheery outlook are often derided as dreamers and heretics, which is not only unfair, it’s untrue. Most positive people are realists who happen to have optimistic expectations. They know where we are. We’re in Maine. We have winters. They understand that this year’s winter is worse than most.

Positive people are the “glass half full” people, who have a habit of seeing things in a positive light and who possess the secret to surviving late winter. They focus on the subtle signs of spring around us and notice the height of the sun against the window’s frame. They celebrate the longer days and new energy at the bird feeders. And they can almost feel the warmth working its way northward.

So much of how we get through life’s challenges has to do with our attitude. If every glass is half empty, life tends to look empty. If we celebrate the good that’s happening, even when times are hard, life tends to look at least half full and often better.

Study after study tells us that people who focus on the positive while in the midst of difficult trials come out of them faster and better than everyone else. They also live longer and happier lives, have better marriages and raise most of the above-average children.

Here are a few hopeful signs that keep me going from now to April:

We’ve gained two hours and 50 minutes of daylight already since Dec. 21.

 Average daily temperatures begin to rise in the last week of January. They rise by 10 degrees every month until the end of July. That’s 1 degree every three days. The pattern hardly varies from year to year, and has the consistency of tide charts.

 Even though it’s been remarkably cold during these last three weeks, nature has a way of balancing it all out. Expect some unseasonably warm days to arrive with surprising suddenness in March and early April.

 In less than two weeks, the Red Sox will start playing baseball in Florida. Pitchers and catchers are already there.

 Two weeks from Sunday, we’ll move our clocks ahead.

 Four weeks from this weekend is Maine Maple Sunday.

It’s clearly time to cozy up with a few seed catalogs that came in the mail this week. Isn’t spring a great thing?

Keep smiling.

Alan Caron is a partner in the strategic consulting firm of Caron and Egan. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]