Thoughts on optimism and what it really means

Living life as an optimist is a better way to live and improve results. Studies indicate optimists live longer, have less stress, are better problem solvers and enjoy a better state of being than the pessimists among us. Optimism is a choice. Being our Best is a choice. The two are joined at the hip.   

Optimists trust themselves and life. Their trust is not that things will always go their way, but rather that there is a natural rhythm to abide by that works. We each have our own rhythm, as does life. When the two are in sync, when we accept and embrace the ebbs and flows of life, our optimism is well founded.

Accepting and embracing not just life as it is but also ourselves as we are is foundational if we are to Be Our Best and let loose the optimist within us. Spending our time trying to be someone we are not or making life something it is not, is time wasted and opportunity missed. This is not where optimism lives. This is not where Being Our Best lives. Nor should we.

There is genuine, healthy optimism and there is the unhealthy. Many of us know people who consider themselves optimists, but their actions say otherwise. They are pessimists but won’t admit it. They try to convince themselves and others that they are something they are not without doing the hard work to break the habit of pessimism. There are also those who are overly optimistic. Their view tends to be unrealistic as they fall victim to self-talk that can be detached from reality. That said, the middle of the optimism bell curve is where most optimists reside, and it is a good place to be.

Our personal Noise can prevent us from being our optimistic self. As we learn more and more about what creates our Noise, we become better and better at sluffing off the yoke of pessimism. Even the most optimistic among us can be susceptible to our Noise and find ourselves in a dark place. 

Saying we are an optimist does not always mean we are an optimist. There is a vast difference between being optimistic about the future and trusting it to happen, and trying to know and control the future, not letting it Just Happen, not trusting it to reveal itself one moment at a time. This belies a fundamental distrust. It is one thing to develop a plan, put forth the effort and be optimistic about achieving a goal. It is quite another to try to force the goal to happen, to clutter our mind with worry, anxiety and fear, trying to know the result before its time. This breaks with life’s natural rhythm and leaves us performing at less than Our Best. There is no optimism without trust. Distrust manifests in trying to know and control what cannot be known or controlled. 

Optimists are fortunate to have a good dose of trust. They trust themselves and they trust life. This must be held onto even in the most difficult times.  When the focus moves from the process, from the path to the destination, that trust is tested, and we often fail. Optimism is how we live as we embrace the vagaries of life. Not everything goes as planned. Few things do. Optimism helps us see our way through with greater clarity of mind unburdened by our Noise and bolstered by our trust. 

Optimism is not just about charting the path forward and believing it can happen, being positive about the potential result. To be a true optimist, we must look past the present path to the ones that follow. The true optimist is optimistic about what happens after success or failure, the paths that have yet to be revealed. The true optimist knows that there is a rhythm to life and that being one with that rhythm yields the best results over time. Things fall apart. But things also fall into place. For the optimist, they fall into place better than they otherwise would, into a new place, a new path forward, into the light.

Choose optimism. Choose Being Your Best. Choose trust. Choose a better life.

More to come.

Eric Easter is CEO of Indianapolis-based retailer Kittle’s Furniture.

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