OPTIMISM IS A KEY FOR THE QUALITY LIFE
In Turkey, when I was a child, every winter break, my parents would send me to my grandmother’s house. This is a nice custom in Turkey. Most winter and summer breaks, people visit their village houses or they send their children to visit their grandparents in the countryside. Those days were the happiest days of my childhood. At that time, I could not understand most of the things my grandmother did most. I thought she was strange, but now I realize that she was not. She was just optimistic.
I believe that optimism is a key to open the door to see the quality of life and a key to achieve happiness and success, to understand how beautiful our world is. When I was living with my grandmother in those days, she used to wake up at 5 o’clock every morning. First, she said her daily prayers, and then she carried a bucket of wood from the storage room which was in the garden, and put the wood in the stove. After that, she put a kettle on the stove, and then came to wake me up. Actually, I always woke up when she woke up, and watched what she was doing, but I stayed in bed because I liked the way she woke me up. She sang old Turkish songs, opened the curtain and said that she was receiving the new day with a beautiful sun. In those days, I used to complain; “Why is the weather so cold? Why do I have to brush my teeth? Why can’t I find my socks?” I just complained about everything you can imagine. At that time, she came to me and gave me a hug saying: “Look outside! How sunny it is. Roosters are singing for us and the sun is sending us its brightest lights!” Her idea about life was very clear; God gave us the most beautiful part of the universe and we had only one responsibility, which was to do our best to improve the quality of our lives, and optimism was only the way to achieve this goal.
It took a lot of time for me to understand what my grandmother’s idea life was. During my childhood, I saw many things, but I did not understand most of them. In primary school, at the end of each semester my art teacher used to collect our drawings to grade them, and one day she called me, and told me: “You made 15 pictures this semester. Why do all of them have bright sunshine even though some of them are set inside of a house or school? How can you picture the sun inside a building?” My answer was very simple to my teacher: “But my grandmother likes sunshine.” I think my optimism started at that moment. Sunshine was the symbol of optimism for my grandmother. I think she got her energy from the sun like how our world needs the sun for life. Optimism is not just a word for me; it is one of the most important parts of my life. When I feel very sad, anxious or disappointed I turn my face to the sun, opening the window and saying “what a wonderful day today with a bright sun!” Then my optimism comes alive again and I start to live and pick up my life where I stopped.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.