The Notion of Optimism

“Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don’t let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.” ~ R. I. Fitzhenry

I would be masking reality for some (perhaps many) of you, were I to disavow that there is a lot of anger in our world right now. Fear seems sustained, cynicism growing, and people are unsettled, if not scared. There are many conditions contributing to this state, most of which are obvious. For this post, however, I intend to pass on their naming. We know their source.

Instead, I choose to focus on a theme shared by former President Clinton at the Davos 2009, World Economic Forum. As part of his prepared remarks he acknowledged critically important global issues yet said, “This is not a time for denial or delay. Do something. Give people confidence by showing confidence. Don’t give up. Don’t bet against yourself. Don’t bet against your country. This is still a good time to be alive.”

When times get tough, it’s challenging to keep a positive attitude. Our emotions are heavily influenced by our environment, and often we can’t but help side with how others around us are feeling. During these times you can choose a positive path and stay optimistic.

So be courageous. Find joy in life’s nooks and crannies. Work toward something. And stay trustful. Hang on to positivity and things will turn around for the better. Or as a colleague often says, “Got a better plan?”

In the aftermath of “9/11” researchers found that those who donated blood, gave money, volunteered to help and had engaged themselves in other positive steps, had greater resilience from their shock, anger, and grief. Doing something seemed to minimize their stress. I suspect that the same will be found true of those who were affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.

It’s hard to read online accounts or tune in to a cable channel without being smothered by negative news about domestic and international problems. A relatively recent American Psychological Association study found that eight out of 10 Americans identified the protracted economic decline for much of the stress in their lives.


Still, there’s promise! Healthy doses of optimism make us feel good and contribute to weathering tough times. But being mindful of your thoughts and actions takes significant time, effort and commitment. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

In a follow-on post, I’ll share a few suggestions to help you deal with uncertainty and to nurture optimism. Look for those opportunities soon.

3 thoughts on “The Notion of Optimism

  1. I love your words – “Find joy in life’s nooks and crannies.” I strongly believe that this is a very important aspect to living well in our day and age. I find tremendous peace and meaning in doing this and it’s certainly not burying your head in the sand. The very secrets to living, I feel, are often found in these nooks and crannies.

  2. Hi Eric! I enjoyed reading your post and loved the way you put / say things. It’s actually quite calm…like the “feel” of the words are coming from someone who is calm…hope that doesn’t sound so strange! LOL!.
    Optimism *is* healthy and as you say it needs to be balanced with being real. Sometimes I feel that when we equate “being real” as “being cynical or pessimistic or even worse being non-istic at all”!

    • Shree, It doesn’t sound “so strange” at all. I get it. 🙂 And thank you. I am a calm being though it’s taken me years of intentional work. It’s warming to learn that somehow, that quality comes through in my writing. Thanks for your feedback.

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