Optimism- Don’t Give Up on Yourself or Others
By Sally Tippett Rains
Optimism is looking at something with the best possible view. If you are optimistic you open your heart to the possibility of something good happening—even if it seems like everything has gone to heck.
Dr. Daniel Amen, the brain health doctor on PBS (Public Television) thinks that eliminating our negative thoughts will improve our health including reversing depression anxiety or negativity in our lives.
Every day we are faced with “Automatic Negative Thoughts” that pop into our heads, that Dr. Amen calls ANTS. He advises us to get rid of our ants.
“Kill your ants,” he advises. One way he suggests to his patients is wear a rubber band around their wrist and every time a negative thought creeps in, snap the rubber band.
What are some examples of ants? According to Amen, beating ourselves up or anticipating things, such as: assuming the worst, anticipating what someone else’s reaction will be, or using phrases like “I should do this” or “I must do that.” He uses the example of “I should go visit my grandmother” which seems to invoke some sort of guilt if you don’t visit her. He would prefer, the more positive, “I want to spend time with my grandmother.” This turns it around to a positive which is better for all.
Carolyn Seeling is only four years old but she is full of optimism. Her grandfather took her to the swimming pool at the hotel in Johnson City, Tennessee. The concrete was hot and her grandpa was calling to her to get her shoes on, “Get off the hot concrete!” But she just hurried towards the pool steps and didn’t seem to notice her bare feet against the heated pool deck.
“I’m just so excited to be here!” she exclaimed with glee. “I’m so excited to go in the pool!”
As her grandpa helped her into the pool she spoke in a loud voice, “This is so fun! I’m so excited!” Then she started singing. As I sat there and watched her I was enthralled. I had just been in the pool and had felt the same way– but in my own grown-up quietness. The sun was beating down, yet the water was cool and perfect. Here was this little girl saying just what I was thinking– and giggling and singing.
Her grandfather was a bit embarrassed that Carolyn was becoming the center of attention. I was looking up from my book, others around the pool were looking at her. “Let’s talk in a quieter voice,” he gently told her, trying not to be the center of attention– but she would not listen.
She made up a song and started singing it and you could see she was not in our world—she was in Carolyn’s world—and having the time of her life. Optimism is seeing the cool water in the pool, not the hot concrete on the way to get there.
What is your hot concrete this week? What are you facing that you are not looking forward to? Maybe if you look for the pool instead of the concrete you will have a better time.
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” –Ephesians 6:11
“Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.” –Mary Lou Retton
If you truly want to live a positive life and a life full of optimism, take a look at what comes out of your mouth (what you say) and what comes out of your fingers (what you post or write). Are you posting or saying negative things? Are you belittling others who don’t think like you do? As you go through this week, think about things like that.
An example is how you feel about something. My example is at first I thought absolutely youth and college sports should be shut down to keep the kids safe. But ever since this pandemic started and I see how negative people are getting– I have started trying to ge more tolerant of other opinions and looking at things from all sides. You might want to start doing this. Take controversial topics and try to see them from other sides. If someone has a different opinion than you do it’s not because they are trying to be negative, it is just the perspective they are coming from in seeing the situation.
First of all, why am I even having an opinion on youth sports because I don’t have any children in school right now. So then, with my new more understanding attitude I started wondering who are the people who want youth sports to start and why do they feel that way? Maybe someone whose child’s college future depends on them playing. Maybe someone who is a coach who may lose their job. Maybe someone is a college sports writer. You get my point. There are always two sides and usually more– and we don’t have to have an opinion on everything. We don’t always have to be “for” or “against” things.
If we stop feeling we have to have an opinion on everything we will live a happier life.
One Last Thought
The Irish author, Marian Keyes once said, “I think there is pressure on people to turn every negative into a positive, but we should be allowed to say, ‘I went through something really strange and awful and it has really altered me forever.’”
To me there needs to be a “but” in there at the end. I did go through something strange and awful (just as many of you reading this have), but I will not allow that to ‘alter me forever.’ I realize I will never be the same, but I wake up every day of my life to face the world as myself—the same self I was before that happened.
I realize there are parts of me that broke that day, but I won’t use that as my excuse to not continue striving for excellence and to live a great life. Sometimes God uses our brokenness to fix us in other ways or to give us empathy to help others, so I won’t let the changes that happen to me ‘alter’ me forever.
We have to give ourselves a break and realize if we are not as strong as we once were, that’s ok—but using it as an excuse to not try as hard is something I won’t do.
Maybe the author could have said: “I think there is pressure on people to turn every negative into a positive, but we should be allowed to say, ‘I went through something really strange and awful and it has really changed parts of me forever, but I am never going to give up.”
We don’t have to turn every negative into a positive but we won’t let our negatives serve as excuses. We will keep pressing forward. Have a great week. Choose Happy.
Sally Tippett Rains is a motivational speaker, inspirational writer and author of 13 books, including Choose Happy; Find Contentment in Any Situation.
Fifteen Keys to a Happy Life
F orward- Keep moving forward
I nitiative- Take the initiative and start things.
N ow- Do it now, live in the now
D etermination- Stay determined to making it
C ommunity –Accept the help of others
O ptimism- Don’t give up on yourself or others
N ew Ideas- Maybe it’s the time to try new ideas
T enacity- Stay in the game, you can do it
E nergy – Do what you need to do to have energy.
N ormalcy – Embrace your “new normal”
T rust – Trust yourself and others.
M indfulness –Don’t worry about the future.
E ncouragement Encourage yourself and others.
N utrition and Health – Take care of yourself.
T ranquility – Learn to just be at peace.