On Optimism

Matt Ridley, author of the best-selling book The Rational Optimist, had his work summarized by the Reader’s Digest on March 21, 2012, and updated on Saturday, April 14, 2012, in an article titled “17 Reasons To Be Cheerful.” Here is his reason No. 17 that stated “optimists are right:

For 200 years, pessimists have had all the headlines — even though optimists have far more often been right. There is immense vested interest in pessimism. No charity ever raised money by saying things are getting better. No journalist ever got the front page writing a story about how disaster was now less likely. Pressure groups and their customers in the media search even the most cheerful statistics for glimmers of doom. Don’t be browbeaten — dare to be an optimist!

I know that I’m not as optimistic about things as I was when I was younger.  Today, I use words like ‘realistic’ and ‘pragmatic’ more than I ever used to.  However, not too far beneath the surface so as to be completely lost, I still look at folks and think they mean well and do good.  I am intentional about noticing the nice things that people do and the very good things that happen in our world.  To do this requires Stopping, though.  I have stopped watching Cable TV with its non-stop negative news.  I have stopped following politics closely because politics is the farthest thing from anything approximating reality.  I have stopped looking at the homeless as ‘losers,’ which they most certainly are not.  In fact, on that last item, I have gone way outside my personal comfort zone and sat with folks on the street to engage them in conversation.  It’s my way of bringing this concept of ‘Noticing‘ to reality.

So, to be an optimist requires a few changes–most of them pretty easy to implement.  Stop.  Notice.  And, for the record, I believe in you, your service to others, your love of family, country and God.  I just do.  No apologies from this optimist!

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