I write often about optimism, and why not? The name of this column is Positively Speaking.
For me, writing this weekly missive is a missional experience. I feel called to encourage others to be more optimistic, positive and hopeful. I believe that if we can make a positive difference in the lives of others, it isn’t a choice. In this case, if I can, I must … and I believe I can. My passion is to uplift and encourage others. I believe with every cell in my body that human beings are designed to be achievers. Some answer the call to do positive things while others, for whatever reason, do not.
People are not born optimistic or pessimistic. They choose to be so.
Knowing this to be true, I always marvel at the fact that there are so many people in this world who make the decision to be pessimistic. Why would anyone choose to believe the worst is coming? If we believe that nothing positive will happen, that belief drives our decisions and actions in life, and the results of negative beliefs and actions are negative outcomes. Pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Think about the lunacy of pessimism … we believe that our outcomes in life will be negative, so our actions create negative results … then the pessimist can exclaim, “See? I told you nothing good ever happens.” As such, the pessimist feels justified and reassured.
If there was ever a person placed on this earth who ever had a reason to be pessimistic, it would be Helen Keller — a person who was born deaf, dumb and blind. But through it all, such a person said, through sign language, “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the horizon of the spirit.”
You may be asking, “How it is possible for a person to be so afflicted in life and still be an optimist?” Well, the answer is simple. She chose to be optimistic. Helen had every reason to be pessimistic, but the opposite was true. Before a special teacher was introduced into her life, Helen was locked in her body unable to hear, speak or see. It was the optimism of a teacher who believed in Helen, that Helen was able to unlock the door to the outside world and communicate.
If Helen Keller became an optimist, why can’t you? Helen chose to believe the best about her life and future. Helen’s optimism gave her a fulfilling life and she inspired others. Why don’t we all make the same choice?
I paid my way through college selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door on straight commission. It was hard. I had doors slammed in my face daily. I was cursed at and threatened often, but I also met some of the nicest people I had ever met and sold enough to graduate from college debt free. Most people failed at selling door-to-door and felt it was the worst job in the world. I had no choice. I had to succeed or drop out of school. I chose to believe I was making a positive and profound difference in the lives of my prospects by giving them a better tool to clean their home. I chose to believe the best and I succeeded. If I could remain optimistic knocking on doors for a living, can’t we all find a reason to be optimistic in our lives?
Make the choice. Become an optimist. Hang around people that uplift you and avoid the complainers. Associate with those who encourage and avoid those who tell you that you can’t.
Victor Perton is an Australian author and passionate optimist. I have never met him, but I know him as a kindred spirit with the same mission. I think of him as my “optimistic brother from down under.” I read his work and follow him on Twitter because I find his words encouraging. Victor has written numerous books on the subject, including his “Case for Optimism.” If you want a daily dose of optimism and encouragement, follow victor on Twitter @VictorPerton.
If you want to become optimistic, hang around with, listen to and read the words of optimistic people. If you want to learn more, please read this column every week. Only expose yourself to people and places that encourage you. I work hard to provide encouragement weekly.
That is the other interesting thing about positive and optimistic people … we want to see others succeed.
I want nothing but the very best for you. Choose the same for yourself.
Gary W. Moore is a columnist, speaker and author of three books.