Little Reason(s) for Optimism

January 8th, 2013

I’ve been feeling so optimistic. Yet there seems so little reason to be optimistic. Maybe it’s the little reasons for optimism that keep us going. It’s all about perspective, and where you choose to look for evidence.

There is a famous Sufi story about the joker Nasrudin who loses his keys. His friends find him on his hands and knees under a street lamp. They ask him, “What have you lost?” “My keys”, he says. After a while, one of his friends asks him if he is sure this is where he lost them. He says, “No. I dropped them over in the next street but the light is so much better here.”

Sometimes we get tempted to look for optimism in the most obvious places, hoping for big reasons for hope, when all we really need is a glimmer of light to reveal a new perspective.

I woke up on the morning of our wedding anniversary. First thing I did was check the news. It was overwhelmingly negative. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, was going wrong. I was scouring the headlines, looking for some reason for hope, and then it happened. My 10 year old daughter brought me a handmade anniversary card. It was SO beautiful and so incredibly thoughtful, straight from her heart. My whole mood changed. It was my little reason to be optimistic. It reminded me to look for optimism where the glimmer of light directs me and not in the big flashing headlines.

The ability to be optimistic is about perspective more than circumstance. True optimism is not dependent on circumstantial evidence. With optimism, it’s ALL light and no tunnel. Optimism is the light at the beginning, middle and end of the tunnel, because no matter how dark it gets, there is an inner light that flickers with a reminder of your ability to choose how you respond in each moment.

When you stare at light, you still see it when you look away. It’s the same when you focus on your inner light. It colors everything you see with optimism. There may be little reason for optimism, but you will find the little reasons for optimism anyway, anywhere, anyhow.

Maya Angelou said,

Laugh as often as possible. You must. Because the world will offer you every reason to weep. So as often as possible, you laugh. That, I think, is part of the Great Love.

Laughing and optimism! There’s a great team. I was reminded of that last week. It was a Mexican cab driver who showed me the light. We were talking about guns, and safety. I was complaining about how unsafe it was becoming in America. He laughed at me, in a nice way. Then he told me about how much he would prefer to be living in Mexico, but couldn’t because it was so unsafe. America has its safety issues ( I am 15 times more likely to be killed by a gun in America than in my native Australia) but compared to Mexico) America is a cocoon of safety.

It was just the laugh I needed, to jolt me out of my funk. It was another little reason for optimism. You’d think I might have learned by now, where to look when in need of an optimism boost.

Where do you look for optimism? If you’re not finding it where you lost it, in the broken relationship or lost job, and you see little reason for hope in the headlines, take it to the other side of the street and look for little reasons for hope in everyday moments of shared connection and the inner ability to frame your perspective and choose your response.

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  1. Margaret says:

    A great insight Ian. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Pauline says:

    It is harder to be optimistic sometimes, but it is worth it! Whenever I feel overwhelmed by the negative, I write a post about something I’m thankful for. It becomes that glimmer of optimism that changes my perspective.

  3. ian says:

    Well said Pauline. Im the same with writing. Be well.

  4. Sam says:

    I started a daily gratitude journal with the arrival of the new year. I begin each one with a quick snippet of where I am, what I’m doing, and any other information (a descriptive time stamp?). Then, I write about three things that I am grateful for and really try to expand each one so my mind really dives into the topic. 

    Of course, if I ever am short on time I can always just write a long list of whatever comes to mind and continue adding to it throughout the day.


  5. Jim Skinner says:

    Too true Ian. Sometimes we forget that if we loose our keys (great analogy) the best solution  is to get a flashlight.

  6. Cheryl Hamilton says:

    Thank you Ian. I just finished sitting with my frustration and anguish about not being understood by the people I love in my family. I went into meditation, and suddenly and hour and a half later I am seeing things with different eyes. I can now relate my need to be attached to the outcome of situations, to a more broader view of the Devine Feminine role which I really wish to be. In that role, there is no need to be concerned about how others see me, not even by another female, (which was the trigger for me to let this go.) I had to go within to my own inner light to get through all that debris I had accumulated about not being accepted. Optimism, no matter how small, can pull you through to standing within your own light of Knowing. 

  7. Barry Lee Marris says:

    Woody Allen, like Nasrudin looking for his keys, tells of his schizo brother who thinks he’s a chicken but the family never got help for him because they needed the eggs…Two quotes I found on the same day recently:I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken — and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.  Margaret Mitchell on love Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.  Robert Frost on happiness 

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