April 30th – “Cha-Cha”

I took some time away from my busy sabbatical schedule to watch my son receive the Optimism Award at school. A proud parenting moment, and well deserved as Jack does seem to keep a pretty positive perspective on life. I did a little research into the word “optimism”. It was first used by the philosopher Voltaire to describe “someone who sees the best in the world”.

I tried to think of how many true optimists I know. I can name a few.  It can be a challenge being an optimist in the world today. Too often we are quick to see the raincloud before the rainbow, or the problem before we see the potential. We like to grunt and grumble before we smile and celebrate. We’re all guilty of that. But I think we all appreciate that person who seems intent on “seeing the best in the world. (Unless it’s first thing in the morning before we have had a cup of coffee)”

Many great leaders and thinkers have weighed in on the subject of optimism. Helen Keller called optimism the “faith that leads to achievement.” Thomas Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The greatest way to succeed is always to try one more time.” Even the curmudgeon Winston Churchill weighed in when he said, “when you are going through hell, keep going”.

An article in Psychology Today lists the eight things that optimists do differently than the rest of us. According to this list, are you an optimist?:

  1. Optimists know that happiness comes from within.
  2. Optimists see the opportunity in ever difficulty.
  3. Optimists do not seek the attention of others.
  4. Optimists refuse to play the blame game.
  5. Optimists don’t complain, they do something about it.
  6. Optimists are grateful for what they have.
  7. Optimists are able to let things go.
  8. Optimists do not expect life to be easy.

If you are like me, you can say, “YES” to some things on that list, and others, well, you recognize that there is some work to be done.

The weather people are telling us that tomorrow is going to be sunny with a high of 24 degrees. And with respect to point #1, I think that will make us all a little more optimistic.

Okay, one more quote on optimism. I like this one:

“an optimist is someone who insists that taking a step backward after taking a step forward, is not a disaster, it’s more like a cha-cha.”