In Others’ Words: Be Optimistic

Optimism leads to achievement. Keller. 2014   Helen Keller was an amazing woman.

Born in 1880,  an illness left her deaf and blind when she was all of 19 months old. Helen had limited communication with her family until she was 7 years old — when Annie Sullivan arrived and worked with her to teach her sign language. Fast forward to 1904, when Helen was 24 years old and graduated from college, the first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

And yes, there’s so much more to her life story.

But when you sift through her quotes — and I have to some degree — you discover a woman who chose to embrace life despite what she didn’t have: sight and hearing. She chose to savor life. To enjoy life. She chose to be happy.

Am I foolish enough to think Helen was never discouraged or frustrated? No. I’m sure there were times she wanted more … but it also seems as if she chose to believe that her life was not less than.

I am certain there were people who looked at her and saw all she could not do.

And yet Helen Keller seemed to be all about saying “Yes, I can. And I will.”

And she did.

In Your Words: What helps you stay optimistic? When have you chosen to say “Yes, I can” — choosing optimism and faith and hope — instead of being overcome by all the reasons you can’t? What did you achieve?

 

 

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15 Comments

  1. September 15, 2014, 6:29 am   /  Reply

    I think optimism is an essential life insurance policy. I’ve seen the alternative in people arrested, stunted, even paralyzed by pessimism and fear–very unattractive and I’m not buying. I also have the remembrance that God somehow turns every apparent disaster into a triumph and accomplishes that in myriad creative ways.

    • September 15, 2014, 12:52 pm   /  Reply

      “… optimism is an essential life insurance policy.”
      Love this perspective, Dee!

  2. September 15, 2014, 6:50 am   /  Reply

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn once shared a cell with two men. Solzhenitsyn and one other chap were depressed and pessimistic, but their companion worked to keep their spirits up. We has a military officer, and spent a part of each day doing what physical exercises he could in their small cell. Two paces forward, two paces back…and that was it.

    Of the three, he was the only one who had a conformed death sentence.

    Optimism is a choice, but I don’t think it can be linked with achievement, except in the most general sense. A better way to define its function might be as a process, something that we can practice every moment that invites grace into our lives.

    And the reason for the grace is that it might be shared. Optimism might help us reach our goals, but that purpose is small when compared to what I believe is its fundamental raison d;etre –

    Optimism fashions us into a lens through which grace can light the world.

    • September 15, 2014, 12:53 pm   /  Reply

      Optimism = “a lens through which grace can light the world.”
      Also a beautiful perspective, Andrew.

  3. September 15, 2014, 8:14 am   /  Reply

    Sometimes I think optimism is born in us. I’ve never not been optimistic…even when I was discouraged. I always knew God had his hand on me and whatever happened would be what He had in mind. I am so thankful for that gift because I’ve seen what happens when people have no optimism. They become bitter and defeated.

    • September 15, 2014, 12:54 pm   /  Reply

      Pat, having known you now for several years — and wishing I’d met you sooner — I would agree that you are an optimistic person!
      And yes, trusting God with the process and the outcome makes a difference.

  4. September 15, 2014, 9:24 am   /  Reply

    I need this post this morning. I’m having trouble being optimistic because it feels a little like life is caving in at the moment. One thing I’m realizing though, is that optimism is a choice. So, I’m spending time with the Lord, reading uplifting truths and listening to praise music. Slowly, my spirit is being readied to choose optimism.

    • September 15, 2014, 12:55 pm   /  Reply

      Jeanne:
      Praying for you, my friend.
      And one thing I do when I’m struggling to trust, to hope, to be positive: I listen to praise music. It anchors my mind to God — to who He is and to what He can do.

  5. Bernadette DesChamps
    September 15, 2014, 10:21 am   /  Reply

    Optimism is the lens through which I see life. I agree with Pat in that I’ve always sensed it was woven into me at birth. And I admit, I get frustrated with pessimists…likely because I don’t understand their lens. I’ve never thought of optimism as being paired with ambition or outcome…though I suppose it is. For me it’s been more of a life force that fights to get back to the surface when I’m weighed down in discouragement, depression, anger, or bitterness. It trains my eyes back to hope, though not necessarily hope in a particular outcome, but hope in Christ. That no matter how bleak the road, Jesus is, was, and every will be. He is. And He is here; never leaving, nor forsaking. To me, optimism reflects not hope in myself or my own abilities, but hope in my God for whom nothing is impossible.

    • September 15, 2014, 12:56 pm   /  Reply

      Bernadette: Optimism is a ” … life force that fights to get back to the surface when I’m weighed down in discouragement, depression, anger, or bitterness.”

      Love this!

  6. September 15, 2014, 12:37 pm   /  Reply

    There seem to be too kinds of optimism, mental and physical.

    Mental optimism is attitude, and the determination to look at things in the most positive way possible. It can be hard to maintain in the face of a seemingly endless list of things that are going wrong.

    Physical optimism is acting in a way that’s positive and hopeful for the future – even if it seems futile, and perhaps especially then. It’s the determination to keep exercising when you’re terminally ill, the will to keep writing when you’ve run out of agent to harass.

    Both are important to cultivate, but physical optimism can save the day when nothing else can. It lets you be the miracle.

    • September 15, 2014, 12:57 pm   /  Reply

      I love how you describe the difference between mental and physical optimism, Andrew.:)

  7. Susan
    September 15, 2014, 2:43 pm   /  Reply

    Honestly, I think it’s my faith that pulls me up by my bootstraps. It gives me hope and assurance. I know it relies on God’s shoulders, not mine. I don’t act optimistic 24/7, but I’ve gotten better the older I get:)

    • September 15, 2014, 7:54 pm   /  Reply

      Susan:
      I’ve been thinking of optimism and faith all day long today as I’ve adding everyone’s wisdom to my understanding of optimism. And I realize optimism depends so much on the object of our faith — the “who” of our faith. Who we believe in. I can’t make myself happy. I can’t make myself joy-filled. But I know the God wwho can.

  8. September 16, 2014, 1:37 pm   /  Reply

    God’s faithfulness keeps me optimistic … especially in public speaking. I speak on surviving hardships … and public speaking is probably my greatest fear. But every time I see God come through, it gives me more courage to take that next step out … that next opportunity …

    Thank you for a sweet post. I love Helen Keller’s story.

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