Three Ways to be an Optimist


Optimists make opportunities out of difficulties. Pessimists make difficulties out of opportunities.

The optimist sees the doughnut. The pessimist sees the hole.

If I’m an optimist, it might be hard to tell sometimes. I fear that my attempts to be witty through sarcasm and cynicism would probably lead you to believe that I am a pessimistic person.

But I’m almost positive that I’m an optimist.

I wasn’t very positive yesterday morning. Unfortunately, Monday morning lived up to its reputation. From 9:00 a.m. until 1:00, it seemed like one negative thing after the other. In hindsight, it’s all good. At the time, however, I wanted to scream.

I’m sure you’ve never had a day like that.

So, how can we remain optimistic when it seems the world around us is crumbling? The Bible talks about setting our minds on good things. What exactly can we set our mind on when our tendency is to look only at the negative?

Here are a few thoughts:

1. Look for the Good. Overlook the Bad.

I told Beth a few mornings ago that I don’t know why we still subscribe to the morning newspaper. It’s not a great way to start the day because it’s usually filled with more negative stuff than positive. But because I don’t want to be ignorant about what’s going on in the world, we still have it delivered every morning.

When I flip through it, I read the headlines to see what’s in the news. I don’t read the negative stuff thoroughly, if at all. I literally overlook it. I see it. I know it’s there. I have a sense of what’s going on but I try not to dwell on it. I look for the good stories — unsung heroes, people doing good deeds, and other encouraging news.

Bad things happen everywhere but we can’t allow it to discolor our outlook on others and limit our outreach to them.

2. Count Your Blessings. Discount Your Losses.

This past tax season was tough on us. Of course, I’m not going to give you details but suffice it to say that due to government tax increases and the fact that we no longer have dependent children we took a big hit this year.

It is depressing. However, instead of wallowing in misery and complaining about the greedy government, I have to sit back and take an inventory of the many blessings that I have. They are too numerous to count. Occasionally, I have to remind myself that I am one of the richest people in the world.

Even how God provided the money for us to pay some of our tax obligation is a miracle. Maybe one day I’ll share that story with you.

3. Give Yourself. Forgive Others.

When you give yourself lovingly as a servant by lending a helping hand, by encouraging others, or by giving generously, it brings a positive outlook not only to yourself but to those around you.

Giving and forgiving are key to a blessed life.

When you fail to forgive others you tend to hold a grudge and harbor resentment. This does nothing but create tension and unhappiness. It’s hard to be optimistic when you have a deep dislike for those around you. We must learn to love. It may become contagious.

Love is the power that will produce love as I learn how to give it rather than working to attract it.

Living life with a positive attitude is like water-skiing. When you begin skiing, you rise up out of the water as the boat pulls you up on top of the water. You’re still connected to the water. You’re aware that it is beneath you. You do all you can to stay on top of it and not fall back down into the water regardless of the ups and downs it may bring.

You’ve risen above it and you enjoy the ride.

We need to do the same thing as the ups and downs of life come our way.

Find more content like this in Strive.

Photo cc on Flickr.

Originally Published: July 2, 2013
Category: Christian Living
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