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 “The only difference between the optimist and the pessimist is that the optimist is a happy fool and the pessimist a sad one.” Georges Bernanos

Optimism is that feeling of positivity, that hopefulness and confidence that the future or something you hope will be a success, will actually transpire.  Sure, optimism is important in keeping one focused on the positive outcome – but optimism will only get you so far. One has to sustain that positive outlook while accepting the often-unforeseen obstacles that can litter our pathway to our goals. Optimism then is about believing we can achieve our goals despite the setbacks.

My experience of life and the lessons learned from my successes and failures, and encounters with people from many walks of life have confirmed to me that optimism is vital to our survival. Optimism can be contagious and when we show a positive belief that all will be well others are more able to look at their own thought patterns and change them. 

We need to develop a optimistic outlook, and seek the positive – gratitude for the affection of our loved ones, or the joy and satisfaction for a job well done. Just one positive thought can trigger beneficial neurotransmitters and hormones in our body. Think on a dream or a desire you’ve held in your mind for perhaps all your life, share your thoughts in a positive way. Optimism is about keeping that dream alive and working toward fulfilling it.

After a negative life experience many people tell themselves they are one of the unlucky ones. But there really is no such thing as luck. People who we consider lucky go out and make plans; they contact many people who can lead them to where they want to go thus increasing their chances of finding their true course. It’s not luck, it’s the energy and willpower to move forward with their dream. It’s vital that we never lose the motivation to keep the dream alive. Optimists understand that nothing is guaranteed, everything has to be earned.

Optimism is the cornerstone of knowledge and optimists are curious about everything. Since pessimists’ often lack this same curiosity they miss opportunities to discover and take advantage of the breaks presented to them. The desire to learn is what makes us happier, we are rewarded for our efforts, compensating us for the setbacks and frustrations. Ideally, we need to set small challenges and to remain alert to the opportunities presented to us.

The world is definitely a scary place at times and many of us have become distrustful of almost everything. We construct a world where all is doom and gloom, interpreting everything negatively, magnifying fears about politics, climate change, unemployment, and illegal immigration even when it is pointless. 

This global negativity can often override our own positive feelings and individually we can be affected without realising it. We need to take self-responsibility and avoid exaggerating the suffering we see around us. We need to acknowledge what is good in the world and the good in its people.  We need to acknowledge our achievements and instead of complaining, look around for people who may be experiencing similar or worse problems than us, and who we may be able to support. 

Putting each event into perspective in relation to previous events that happened to us is giving it its proper place. Rather than feeling sorry for ourselves lets look at those unfortunates who’ve been fighting setbacks in some form or another. How important are our frustrations and setbacks when we see how many others are yearning to improve their lot?

Being optimistic means living in the now. Appreciating what we have, without the need to burden ourselves with thoughts that it was better back when, or that happiness will come sometime in the future.

French philosopher André Comte-Sponville said, “There is no point in hoping for what one doesn’t have without enjoying what one does have”. By not being fully present and in tune with our thoughts and feelings we risk missing rewarding experiences.

But the world is also wonderful. It is full of promise. Express gratitude daily, store positive thoughts and dreams and connect with them when a negative emotion takes hold. The dreams I formulated as a youngster, while seemingly too pretentious, are now part of my gratitude box. My optimism has seen me achieve my dreams. I’ve been rewarded so much and I know that optimism and patience were what saw me through the times when I felt it might not be possible. 

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