Is there an adaptive side to rumination? We tested whether rumination that is focused on correcting past mistakes and active goal achievement could produce positive outcomes; this is in contrast to rumination that focuses on the implications of failure (i.e., state rumination) and task-irrelevant rumination. in all studies, participants received failure feedback on an initial task. a second task similar to the first provided an opportunity for improvement. Studies 1 and 2 manipulated type of ruminative thought such that it was action-focused, state-focused, or task-irrelevant. action-focused rumination led to performance improvement relative to the other two conditions. experiment 3 allowed participants to ruminate naturalistically. the more that participants' rumination contained action-focused thoughts, the more their performance improved. hence, rumination can yield benefits if it focuses on correcting errors and goal attainment.