June 13

The hopeful person sees
success where others see
failure, sunshine where
others see shadows
and storm.

Orison Swett Marden


Today's Meditation:

While I was growing up, I often heard people who saw things like this referred to in negative ways, as if their positive view of the world was something wrong, as if they were so naive that they just didn't get how awful the world is and how difficult life can be.  As I've grown, though, I've learned that for these people, life isn't at all difficult--yes, it's full of challenges and pitfalls and obstacles, but those are simply things to be overcome, not things that should beat us down into submission or depression.  And I've also come to realize just how wrong the people were who criticized them, and just how miserable they were making their own lives by focusing on the failure and the shadows and storms.

I want to be a hopeful person.  At times, I start to feel that it's hopeless to want this, but I keep pushing it, and I find that it gets easier and easier with each year that goes by.  I'm able to see the world in positive ways even when things seem to be going "wrong," and I feel much happier and more fulfilled when I am able to see the world this way.

Orison isn't talking about the constantly-perky person who always wears a smile no matter what and who can really get on our nerves.  I've read books and articles by people who actually used to be like that, and while they were smiling and happy on the outside, they were simmering cauldrons of frustration and confusion on the inside.  Their "optimism" was a mask that they wore so that people couldn't see the anguish inside of them.

But I do want to see the sunshine and success in life.  When problems arise, I always ask myself as soon as I can, "just what's the silver lining here?"  And almost always, I can see some positive to the worst negative very soon, and as time goes on I can see much, much more positive.  And I've seen enough sunshine after storms to know that no storm lasts forever, and that optimism for better days ahead is always justified; in fact, feeling the optimism tends to bring the brighter days all that much more quickly.

Questions to consider:

Were you brought up to see the sunshine, or the shadows?  Who were your teachers?  Were they happy, fulfilled people?

How might we learn to look for the brightness when it seems that there is none to be seen? 

Why do so many people make fun of optimists and speak negatively about them?

For further thought:

In this world, the optimists have it, not because they are always right,
but because they are positive.  Even when they are wrong they
are positive, and that is the way of achievement, correction,
improvement, and success.  Educated, eye-open optimism pays.

David Landes


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