Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Bright Side

Promise Yourself . . .

To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.  

To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel that there is something in them. 

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, work only for the best and to expect only the best.  

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others are you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and to press on to the greater achievements of the future. 

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.  

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

~The Optimist Creed, Optimist International

I once quit the Optimist Club because it was too negative!

New to the Gulf Coast of Florida, I had looked for a good civic group to join that would be meaningful, engaging, and helpful in learning about my community while meeting like-minded others.  Hey, I’m an optimist, I thought; what better group to join than the Optimist Club!  Then one day, a few months in, the President of the chapter came up with this “brilliant” idea to increase membership:  we would take turns carrying around a brick until each member brought in at least one new member.  Now I’m sure this doesn’t represent all chapters of this wonderful club, but WOW!  What a heavy load!  I barely knew anyone in town—part of the reason I had joined the group in the first place—and after an unsuccessful attempt to get a waiver from this dismal approach, I quit.

Not entirely surprising because I tend to run from the negative, choosing instead those friends and associations that lift me up and inspire with positivity.  A bit of a dichotomy, really, when I consider the way that I have to approach my work as a lawyer—looking at the contract, deal or business strategy with a critical eye, which allows me to consider all potential outcomes—good and bad—and advise my clients of the consequences of their decisions.  Yet for much of my life, when making personal decisions, I brushed aside anything negative, focusing only on the great and wonderful outcomes that would surely follow my next great step.  This is a poor business plan and a terrible life strategy because when things run amok, as they sometimes do, instead of working out as I envision, I have a tough time adjusting to the reality.

I read somewhere that having an over-abundance of optimism in the “it-won’t-happen-to-me” sort of mindset can be detrimental to our sense of wellbeing, and as harmful to longevity as high blood pressure and cholesterol!  In fact, studies have shown that those who operate with extreme optimism experience more difficulty rebounding from set backs, which I have experienced first hand, because we get stuck on a mental track of “I can’t believe that happened to me!  Why me?”

So a little worry can be helpful when channeled into productive action, like having a Plan B or creating a Will or making peace with getting older while you’re still young, or allowing your thoughts to follow the chain of "what if" while maintaining faith that no matter what happens, you're going to be okay—all great building blocks for our peace of mind; and very different from dwelling in the negative, which we know causes excessive stress, impacts our health and affects our mind and spirit in often undesirable and unintended ways.     

What kind of bricks are you carrying?  

No comments: