Thursday, September 25, 2014

Strong Women Series #5: Strong Women are Optimists

     Webster's dictionary defines an optimist as someone who has, "an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome."  Anne of Green Gables comes to my mind, who said, “It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” That goes for life, as well as any other "things" I believe.
     We can make up our minds to enjoy life, or not. It won't just happen by accident. It takes a lot of determination to be an optimist. But the alternative is not something I want for myself.  "Normal" is not good enough, and being optimistic is definitely not normal. One definitely has to walk against the tide to resist the normal state of the normal mind with its normal thoughts of cynicism, defeatism, and negativity. Those are the EASY thoughts to have. They come quickly, frequently and in great numbers. And they lead to the normal life of blah, meaningless existence. As Thoreau noted, "Most men live lives of quiet desperation." Laughing on the outside. Longing for meaning inside. Quietly. Desperately. Hopelessly.
     So why do so many people live like that? I believe it is because they don't realize that happiness is a Choice. And with all choices for good, it requires Effort. And the effort required to live an optimistic life is simply this: to Choose Positive Thoughts. At all times. Under all circumstances. In spite of all indication to the negative. Being optimistic isn't for sissies.
     The world lives in a cesspool of negativity. Negative thoughts stalk us constantly. We don't have to go looking for them. They pop into our minds unbidden. They are not even thoughts we want, but there they are--insisting on occupying our minds. Thoughts of failure, self-loathing, suspicion, anger, revenge, inferiority, hopelessness and so forth come, even against our wills. If we do not actively (1) Recognize them, and (2) Resist them, they will set up camp in our minds, then invite all of their horrid little friends to join them. The next thing we know, we are overwhelmed by life, and filing for divorce, or seeking our next anti-depressant medication--none of which we ever wanted! And it all began with that first little negative thought that we allowed to get his toe in the door, unhindered.

     But what if, when that ugly little thought first appeared, we had said, "Hey! Who do you think you are, walking into my life like that? GO AWAY!" That is the first thing we must do. The second thing is just as important: Replace that negative thought with a positive one. If that thought was, "Your house is such a dump. You are going to be the next star on Hoarders. There is no way you will ever get organized," you must not only Recognize it, and Rebuke it, you must Replace it with a positive thought. Say out loud to yourself, "I am fully capable of living whatever life I choose. I choose to get organized. It only takes one step at a time. Today I will start by cleaning out my junk drawer in the kitchen." Then do it! You will feel so good about yourself for having thought and done something positive.
     This works for any negative thought, whether about yourself, someone else, or things going on in the world. You may not be able to fix everything, but you can improve some small part of it in your own world, beginning with that positive thought. I am quite positive about that.



  1. Great post, Linda! And yes, I totally agree that happiness is a choice. I know people who have faced unimaginable pain and circumstances, and they have every right to be angry. But they're not. They've chosen happiness instead. There are so many blogs, facebook posts, etc that spew constant negativity. If I start to read something and get that vibe, I pass right over it. Negativity is highly contagious, and I don't want any part of that disease.

  2. That's what I like about your blog, Kimberly--it's totally upbeat. And yes, the Neggies are contagious, aren't they?