Disclaimer: No one has cornered the market on happiness, and the approaches I discuss are simply one man’s humble opinions. Happiness is a journey. You don’t have to be there, but instead, make it a destination, and a goal within your journey…
If there is one topic I’ve written about more than any in the two years of BLArticles™ that have appeared, it’s the concept of optimism. When I talk about how we cope with worry, the topic of optimism is critical. When I talk about how we cope with fear, I have to focus on the importance of optimism. I even include a segment on optimism when I talk about how we handle taking risks.
Navy Lieutenant, and now, Senator John McCain says it was his natural happiness and optimism that kept him alive during the five years he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. That included one stretch of solitary confinement that lasted for more than two years. Imagine that; he actually remained optimistic in a Vietnamese prison. He was quoted as saying there were many times when he thought he was genuinely happy. When someone is able to imagine the best-case scenario in an uncertain situation, that person is an optimist. When someone can tackle a problem by looking at positive solutions to the situation, that person is an optimist.
So how does someone become more optimistic? The first thing you have to do is be willing to lose. By “lose” I mean you have to be willing to want something to turn out in your favor, invest in it mentally, and tell others if they ask you. You know what that means? That means if what you are feeling optimistic about doesn’t work out in your favor, you need to look yourself in the mirror, or your friends in the face, and say, “I was hoping it would work out, but it didn’t.”
I’m amazed at how fearful so many are of acknowledging a loss like this. They are so fearful, they refuse to invest in it mentally. Somehow they convince themselves if they tell themselves it probably won’t work out, it will somehow feel better if it doesn’t work out.
One of my hero’s in optimism has always been Thomas Edison. When you are trying idea after idea, over and over again, and you respond with a quote like, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” you are an optimist! But my favorite story centers on an absolute disaster Edison came face to face with at the age of 67. One of the factories he built was completely gutted in a terrible fire. Next morning, Mr. Edison looked at the ruins of his factory and said this of his loss: “There’s value in disaster. All our mistakes are burnt up. Thank God, we can start anew.”
So why aren’t we all optimists? Why are we treating this word as if it’s a word that somehow should be not spoken? It’s not irresponsible to be an optimist. It’s not tempting fate to be an optimist. Can you even fathom a conversation with someone telling you that it’s “bad luck” to be an optimist?!
I hope I’ve impressed upon you how important it really is to be optimistic as you create your path to happiness. If that negative voice inside you starts bullying you around, shut it down. Like the movie “Broadcast News,” it’s time to get up, walk over to your window or door, open it, and yell, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to be thinking negatively anymore! It’s my choice, and I choose to be an optimist!”
You can do this, there is nothing physically holding you back, and that’s not just my optimism speaking!