I’m an Optimist

John - Bethesda, Maryland
Entered on March 25, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: hope

I’m an optimist.

I have always believed that you must look at the positive side of every situation. There are many reasons for this, from preserving your own mental health to keeping yourself from being overwhelmed and run over. Make no mistake, it is important to see all the sides of a question, but focusing strictly on the down or negative side will make you both frustrated and notorious!

I remember starting a workshop one day by placing a 16 ounce soda bottle in front of me; it had 8 ounces of soda in it. I asked for a show of hands as to who thought it was half-empty or and who thought that it was half-filled. The class was fairly evenly divided in their responses! I then gave a workshop on diversity and on looking for the best in just what you are presented with. Then I asked the question again. This time, the results were significantly different: almost every student saw the bottle as half-full. This happens again and again, in every workshop that I lead! Try it yourself.

I remember when I was in college, when everybody who was anybody was a Greek – a member of a fraternity or sorority, known by the two or three Greek letters of its name. I became known not only by the three letters of my fraternity, but also as a GDO – A “God-Damned Optimist.”

The value of optimism. There is terrific value in optimism! Its potential is amazing. You will find that you are constantly looking for many do-able small solutions, instead of struggling for the one big one. This is so much easier, and self-fulfilling. Each small victory gives you the will and enthusiasm to go one more step. One of my favorite quotes in this area is from Martin Luther King, Jr., who said “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.”

When you have a problem facing you, keep your eye on the horizon. This allows you to see exactly what is out there to deal with; it allows you to see all the stones that are there, realizing that “the solution” is lurking under one of them. While you see the problems, you also see where the solution is lying! Sure, when you move forward, the horizon moves back, and you see more stones, but you also see more opportunities to find “the solution.” This says to look and consider before you move forward.

One of my favorite phrases about being an optimist is that while you may see items that are unrealistic, you can always “Compromise Backwards to Reality.”