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November 3, 2014

The Problem with Pessimism

Image: Flickr/Mo Riza

Image: Flickr/Mo Riza

“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” (Helen Keller)

Few people have ever had to overcome the kinds of obstacles Helen Keller faced. If anyone had a legitimate reason to be a pessimist in this world, she must be at the top of the list. She dealt with absolute silence and darkness every day of her life, and yet she chose to find the good in the world and in herself. She realized that negativity simply isn’t productive, and she would have none of it.

Great things happen because people like Helen Keller are stubbornly positive — even when they shouldn’t be. True optimism isn’t a personality trait or a convenience. It’s a choice.

The ability to choose is what makes greatness possible. We can be positive even when people are pushing our buttons. That doesn’t mean ignoring problems or sugarcoating issues. It means that when your child or your spouse or your boss mistreats you, you refuse to take it personally. You see it as an opportunity for everyone to get a little bit stronger.

Problems are only problems until they start becoming opportunities to grow, to overcome, to learn.

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