“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use to be anything else.”
An interesting discussion a few days ago with a new client caused that me to realize that this is the perfect time to introduce the Habit of Optimism as our focal point for this blog as well as the next two.
This lady, we’ll call her Gail, told me that she decided to adopt the Habit of Optimism many years ago when during one of her down moments a friend suggested she “cheer up, things could be worse.”
With a huge smile on her face she told me that “I cheered up and sure enough, things got worse.”
And it was in that moment that Gail’s life changed forever.
She said a light turned on in her head and, for the first time in her life, she understood that cheerfulness in the face of adversity is nothing more than naïve self-delusion, but positive expectation in the face of severe challenge is a springboard to happy endings.
She further explained why the Habit of Optimism constantly guides her response to most situations in in her life.
Gail told me that she is constantly reminded of a quote by Colin Powell that “Optimism is a force multiplier.”
She said she has long understood that every single thing we believe to be true is true for us and that the “truth” that we bring to each and every situation will determine how best we manage it.
She explained to me that when faced with a difficult challenge, the pessimist focuses on the adverse circumstances and can easily conclude that the situation is hopeless – nothing good can, or will, come of it.
The optimist, on the other hand, faces a difficult challenge with strong, positive expectation of a better result.
Believing in the inevitability of this better result drives the optimist to relentlessly pursue those very actions that are necessary to produce that better result and that while, sometimes, the result obtained is not always the result hoped for, it is always, in Gail’s experience, a far better result than what would have been the result had she taken the pessimist viewpoint – the hopelessness of the situation – accepted it and, by accepting it, taken no action to change it.
In other words, Gail explained, optimists do things differently than pessimists. Optimists take different actions and therefore produce different results.
Gail believes, like the quote above, that optimism is a force multiplier and that the more optimism she brings to the task – the greater her sense of positive expectation – the harder she will work.
And, of course, the greater her effort, the more beneficial the result.
It is invigorating being around Gail. She looks for the positive possibilities in everything and her optimism is contagious. It doesn’t seem to matter what happens in her life, Gail focuses on positive outcomes and, with boundless energy and enthusiasm, strives to make those outcomes a part of her reality.
Gail has twice defeated cancer and when asked if she has any fears of this disease returning the standard response is “Bring it on, I’ll kick its butt again.”
The World English dictionary defines optimism as:
the tendency to expect the best and see the best in all things
the doctrine of the ultimate triumph of good over evil
the philosophical doctrine that this is the best of all possible worlds.
Gail defines optimism slightly differently. She says “Optimism means that good will always come from bad if you persevere hard enough and sometimes you just have to push extra hard in order to open the door through which the good will enter your life.”
The Habit of Optimism. Pretty hard to disregard.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
MEA CULPA: I apologize for the lateness of this blog. I wrote it on Tuesday evening and some, forgot (it’s this darn aging thing) to post it on Wednesday.
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