Thursday, October 16, 2008

Look At The Bright Side

By Jurriaan Kamp at

The stock exchange and the economic news seem to leave little room for optimism. People everywhere are under a continual onslaught of bad news. No wonder more and more people are getting depressed. Under these circumstances, how can you stay positive and optimistic? Well, this is the time to put “intelligent optimism” to the test.

I argue that optimism is a quality that anyone can learn. True optimism isn’t about denying reality against our better judgment. And optimism is not the same thing as idealism, which also reflects a tendency to push up against harsh realities. The idealist is chasing after a big ideal and runs the risk of big disappointment.

Intelligent optimists don’t deny problems, but adjust to them, while still seeking an opportunity for progress. Intelligent optimists don’t allow themselves to get carried away by circumstances they can’t change, but focus on things that are within their grasp and that they can enjoy. My favorite quote is from the diary of Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew who wrote a journal describing her life in a Nazi death camp: “Today we walked along little German roads past lilacs and roses.”

You learn to become optimistic by concentrating on things that give you a sense of satisfaction, and you remain an optimist by feeding those things to make them grow. Intelligent optimists also know that for every problem there is (at least the beginning of) a solution and that the search for that solution can be inspirational in itself. They are also not afraid of negative thoughts, which they realize offer some protection and help them stay realistic. Read Jurriaan Kamp's entire article.

I especially like the affirmation that he includes in the article. I've always had high expectations, so I continually have to remind myself that "it's enough." I expect to accomplish too much in a day, so I have to makeover my idealistic nature to a more reasonable one. This is a short way to accomplish that detour.

What I have, is enough.
What I am, is enough.
What I do, is enough.
What I’ve achieved, is enough.

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