While there are born optimists and born pessimists (if you’ve had a handful of kids, this truth is obvious), we have the power to chose and change. In my case, I was born generally optimistic, but some very pointed experiences — both as a child and as an adult — have led me down a path of cynicism and pessimism.
My distrust is not unfounded and so pretending things aren’t the way the are isn’t helpful or even possible for me. But I can choose carefully to apply the suspicion only when genuinely needed to protect my family or myself.
This lesson is chalk full of insightful quotes. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll expound on a couple of my favorites. You’re bound to find many more ideas that inspire you in the pursuit of your goals.
- A dynamic optimist cannot be stopped, spooked, pushed aside, or bullied.
Having been bullied excessively as a child, this idea is so profound. To clarify, I tried over and over and over to ignore my bully (the idea being that he would get bored and stop). But being optimistic and positive in the face of a threat isn’t the same as pretending to be unaffected by malicious behavior. Rather, it is seeing that bad things pass, better times are coming, and recognizing your personal power in any given situation.
- An optimist responds to all obstacles, attacks, and setbacks with calmness, determination, and a creative, problem-solving attitude.
Calmness. That’s not a noun often used in my vicinity. But the benefits of being the calm amidst chaos, the eye in the storm are many. I’ve seen this manifest many times over. When my children are sick or hurt — and with six kids, that’s a regular scenario — my mothering instincts take over my natural ones. In that particular kind of crisis, I become calm, focused, and energized. And even the worst situations are handled more easily when I’m in that mode. If I can just learn to practice that response in other difficult situations, I am sure the benefits would be similar.
- Optimists direct their thoughts and actions toward constructive problem solving and purposeful activity.
In this lesson, Gary Ryan Blair makes a critical distinction. He notes that the power of optimism isn’t pasting on a smile and pretending nothing bad is going to happen. He calls it “a rational, active form of optimism.” You look for the best outcome, you work for the best solution, you learn from the situation. This kind of optimism serves you in any situation.
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