Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Quick Conversation

Photo: guardian.co.uk

Hello Optimists,

Have you ever passed by people on the sidewalk, in a store, or in a hallway and happen to hear a piece of their conversation? This happens to me a lot, but I often find that I pass by at the most random moments of their dialogue, hearing pieces of a story or a conversation that I really wish I hadn't. But this weekend, I happened to pass by a man on the sidewalk and heard just a few seconds of what he was saying... but it was enough to make me smile.

As I was approaching, I saw him there, standing alone at the end of a driveway, talking away....to whom I had no idea, and was almost sure he just might be talking to himself. I got a bit closer, and was just about to pass him by, when to my relief, I saw he had a little Blue Tooth earpiece in, so he was in fact talking to someone other than his imaginary friend. But here's the best part. As I passed him on my bike, I caught just about 3 or 4 seconds of his conversation, which went something like this: "I'll just need to work my way up into a better position, that's all. And I know I'll get -  I know I'm destined for it. So I'm not even sweatin' that."

As I rode away, I was so inspired by his optimism. Of course, I have no idea what the real story was behind that little excerpt, but it didn't matter. What was important was that he had the confidence and the determination needed to overcome (what seemed to be) an obstacle and strive for the best. This situation could not have fit the mold more perfectly for today's featured quote, and I'm so happy that I have this one to share with you.
Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be. 
This is something we should remind ourselves of from time to time, because we often define success in other, more superficial, ways. If you have all three of these things- courage, determination, and will- then you will certainly be successful at whatever goal you're trying to achieve. It's hard to think of success if you don't come out on top with a gold medal around your neck, but we need to realize that sometimes just believing we can do the things we want to do and not stopping until we reach our goals is success in itself.

I know I will be keeping this quote in mind and constantly reminding myself that through some hard work, determination, and optimism, I will become the person I believe I am meant to be. And I hope you can too. So thanks to that Blue Tooth-wearing guy out by his driveway who reminded me to stay positive!

Keep Smiling,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Loving Life

Hello Optimists,

I must say that this past weekend was a really great one. With the weather forecast showing only sunny skies and warm but not-to-hot temperatures, I was eagerly planning some fun outdoors. So, my roommate and I decided to take a bike ride down to Kelly Drive and pedal toward the city. We took off early in the morning so it wasn't too crowded and started what would be an incredibly enjoyable ride.

With a light breeze blowing in our direction and the sun shining down from above, we pedaled with ease. The ride down Kelly Drive toward the city is a beautiful one; the winding paths along the river take you under about 5 bridges and steer you into incredible views of the Philadelphia skyline. With others running, biking, rollerblading, and rowing all around you, there's a welcoming feeling of community between everyone sharing in the beauty. I felt incredibly happy as I rode down the path, and hoping that my roommate was sharing this feeling, I leaned back and asked, "Are you loving life right now? 'Cuz I certainly am!" and, just as I had hoped, she responded, "Ohh yeah, this is great!".

We headed about 5 miles down the road until we reached our first landmark, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. After locking up our bikes we joined the others in a little fitness class...aka, running up and down the stairs of the museum until we were well out of breath. Here's what we faced; a mountain of stairs, happily mocking our attempt at climbing them:

But we made it, and when we reached the top, I paid homage to my boy, Rocky....

And we had an awesome view: 

We stayed out for a few hours, taking in every wonderful minute of that gorgeous day. We had so much fun that we did it again for the next two mornings, and enjoyed ourselves even more. Thinking back on this weekend, I can see why we were so happy. We created great memories and were really loving life after treating ourselves to a simple thing that made us so happy. I found the perfect quote for this story and I'm so excited to share it with you.
One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats. -Iris Murdoch  
I will say from personal experience that this quote is absolutely true. Small things make a big difference, so if you can find a few little things that make you smile, that awaken your senses, and that make you love life, then you've uncovered a little secret and should make those things a part of your life as often as you can. Enjoy those moments in life, and try to make room for them whenever possible.

When was the last time you were loving life? I'd love to hear about your stories too!

Keep Smiling,

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Quote in Question

Photo: clevelandwomen.com

Hello Optimists,

During my usual morning headline scanning, I came across an article that I whole-heartedly thought must have been a misprint. I was sure of it. There had to be a typo somewhere here, because the title was "Child Stars Turning 30", featuring well-known names like Macaulay Culkin, Ben Savage and Isaac Hanson- who as we all know, are no where near the ago of 30, right? Well that's odd, I thought. I could swear I was just yesterday sitting on my couch, watching them on TV, and eating a bowl of Trix in my Little Mermaid jammies...or maybe that was like, 15 years ago. Oops.

But really, I felt like I grew up with these people and they were "just like me" (or so the TV producers wanted me to think). Not that I think 30 is old or anything, but I'm used to seeing their little baby faces, hearing their high-pitched voices, and watching them holding hands with mom and dad. AND NOW YOU'RE TELLING ME THEY'RE 30?! 

Ah, well, I guess you can all relate to this. Unfortunately, we can't all be like Tommy Pickles and be 3 years old indefinitely. So it got me thinking about how quickly time is traveling and how much each moment really counts. I immediately thought of this quote - or question - that I had once come across that really made an impression on me.
What is it you plan to do with this one wild and precious life? -Mary Oliver 
Good question. I think about what my answer to this would be quite often...and I'm not exactly sure I've nailed down the answer yet, but I think it's interesting that she refers to "this one wild and precious" life that we live, as if to reinforce it's delicacy and relatively short existence. It is wild, and it certainly is precious. We have to know that right from the start. So what do we plan to do with it to make it the best? What can we do to live our lives to its fullest potential before the day comes when Dora the Explorer can collect Social Security??

So this weekend, I leave you with this "quote in question". I'm not sure if you'll be able to answer it right now, but it's something to think about. Maybe you have an idea of what you'd like to do with your one wild and precious life, but have never put any of that thought to action. Maybe you already have an answer and are well on your way, living an awesome life. Wherever you are, remember that we only have one wild and crazy ride, and we have to enjoy every moment that we can.

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stand Like A Rock

Photo: oasisdesign.net

Hello Optimists,

I have one more reader-submitted quote (so that means I need more!) and I thought it would be perfect to use for today. After reading an article called How to Revamp Your Style From Head to Toe I started thinking about how many trends we see come and go each year. I will say that I really do love fashion, so I can't complain about the constant change in style from one season to another. But I do remember when the skinny jeans debuted, I thought they were a horrid remake of 80's style denim...now that's all everyone wears, myself included. Just a few years ago bell-bottoms made a comeback (but just for a short while, thank goodness). We're heading back to the hippie/bohemian style now too, complete with gauze fabrics and embroidered details which my mom absolutely loves...and I absolutely don't. But I know that just like any other trend, this too will fade into the dark dark abyss of this fashion frenzied world.

It makes no sense to get a whole new wardrobe each time a new trend comes out, and we all know that, but we've got to at least go with the flow of things and buy a piece or two if it appeals to us. If Armani says the new color this fall is brown, you might want to pick up a few brown pieces or accessories next time you're out. But doing things this way doesn't work for everything in life....
In the matter of style, swim with the current. In the matter of principle, stand like a rock. -Thomas Jefferson
This awesome quote was posted anonymously in a comment after one of my posts- so thank you to whomever it was!!  This is such a great quote and it's definitely true. Sometimes it's good to just go with the flow...like with style, for instance. Other times, and especially when it comes to our principles, we need to stand our ground. We can't let our beliefs about values and ideals change just because a lot of other people start changing theirs. This is a great way to make sure we know who we are as individuals. We will know what we stand for and why we stand for it, and others will know it too. They will respect our opinion and look up to that strength more than they would if we changed our ideals as much as we changed our wardrobe.

It's cool to be flexible with most things in life, but remember that when it comes to your principles, don't budge. Stand your ground.

Keep Smiling,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Surround Yourself....and A Milestone!

Photo: teachers.scholarschoice.ca
Hello Optimists,

Yayyy! Today is my 200th post! I can hardly believe I have written so many entries since I started this blog back in November. This got me thinking about the first ideas I had about sharing a message of positivity and optimism and how they have developed over the last few months into not only a fun blog, but a great little life project I have here keeping me busy.

At first I thought that maybe I could show people the brighter side of life, that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel, or that their glass is indeed half full. And maybe that is what I'm doing. But, after 20-some years living here on Earth, I know that not everyone is so willing to think this way. Some people would rather concentrate on the not-so-positive things in life or always carry a negative viewpoint. That's certainly ok...but I know that this is not the type of person I want to associate with all of the time.

Through this blog, I have realized that what I value in others and myself is a positive attitude, an optimistic (yet realistic) view of the world, and a mindset that leads to a healthy and happy life. It's no surprise that I have a quote that goes right along with this way of thinking, and I thought this would be perfect to feature for today. It's a great one to keep in the back of your mind and one that I try to live my life by.
Life is too short to spend your precious time trying to convince a person who wants to live in gloom and doom otherwise. Give lifting that person your best shot, but don't hang around long enough for his or her bad attitude to pull you down. Instead, surround yourself with optimistic people. -Zig Ziglar
So after 200 posts and nearly 10 months of blogging, I can say that while I'd like to convince a person who lives in doom and gloom that optimism is the way to go, I know that trying too hard to bring my opinions into their way of thinking will probably not be too successful and will pull me down their path of negativity. I certainly will give them my best pitch at why being an optimist rocks, but I won't let my happiness wane by trying to chase them down. Instead, I know that I have a great community of followers and fellow optimists who share the same thoughts, beliefs, and values that I do...I'm surrounding myself with optimistic people. So thanks to all of those other Optimists out there who continually support my blog through comments and discussions and help me to surround myself with optimism and positivity.

Keep Smiling,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Signs, Signs, and More Signs: Part 6

Photo by Sarah!

Hello Optimists,

Whew! Can you believe we're on our sixth positive sign today?! I'd love to keep this series going in the future, so if you have any signs to submit, send them my way...

Today's awesome sign was delivered to me via text message from my BFF Sarah in The Big Apple. "Talk about signs...look at this!" she wrote, and I opened up the picture and instantly fell in love. How cool is this?! I just love it, and I'm a little bummed that I didn't get to see it in person. If you look closely, you can see that this bus has positive and encouraging messages written on every free inch of space, the biggest of which is their website displayed on top.

Of course I had to check it out. Turns out that One Million Acts of Kindness is lead by Bob, a father of three college students, who wanted to convince as many people as possible that the world needed to start a movement of kindness. He really put his plan to action when he bought a bus, grabbed some friends and family to help him paint it, and hit the road with his dog in the passenger seat. Then they set out for a ten year journey, stopping at college campuses across the country and continue to spread this great message.

I know....ah-ma-zing, right? Well I certainly had a lot of great quotes to choose from even though only one side of the bus is shown in this picture. I admit that I had a hard time trying to choose one for this post, but I finally made my choice...and I think it's a great one.
You have the power to positively affect millions of people...don't wait another moment.
This is so important for us to keep in mind. We do have the power to make a positive impact on the people around us, even those we don't even know. We've just got to get out there and start doing it. Seriously, don't wait another moment.

I've written a few posts about kindness in the past, but I think Bob and his pup out-did me on this one. I just love what a great impression he is making on the world! But the important thing to remember here is that we don't all need a big school bus and ten years of driving around the nation to start spreading kindness (though that would be nice). We just need to make a promise to ourselves and a commitment to start making a difference...now.

I encourage you to check out the One Million Acts of Kindness website and read more about this incredible movement. If you haven't already been inspired by hearing just a piece of this story, the website will surely motivate you to be a positive force in this world.

Keep Smiling,

Monday, August 23, 2010

Signs, Signs, and More Signs: Part 5

Photo: from me!

Hello Optimists,

Hope you had a great weekend! My "Signs" posts continue this week, and today's is one of my favorites.

I'm all into living a healthy life...physically, mentally, and emotionally. I like to put good foods into my body (which, yes, does include an occasional cone of ice cream!), play sports, go to the gym or take a bike ride outside, and of course, think positively. It's pretty interesting to note that while these things may seem like they are taken care of in completely different areas of our life, they do have an important link.

I will admit that I myself did not spot this sign, though it was almost right in front of my face. (The credit for this one goes to Ange!) I'm hoping that my positive sign spotting will now be shared with others around me...and I think this wish is really coming true. I don't want to get too ahead of myself here, but just to give you a little preview, tomorrow's post was sent to me from one of my friends...and it's a great one!

So getting back to today's sign...Ange and I were sitting in a pharmacy when she spotted this sign of positivity above a blood pressure machine of all things. "Look at the first thing on the list," she said, nodding her head to the sign above me. "There's another sign."

And there it was. The #1 health factor you can control to better your overall well-being is... attitude.
A positive outlook can be the first step toward lasting wellness. 
This was good news, first because that meant I wouldn't feel half as bad going home to open up the freezer, grabbing a spoon, and diving into my pint of dolce de leche. But also because this shows that optimism is a proven way to better physical and mental health. I did a little Google search of "optimism health benefits" and was amazed at the amount of articles linking positive thinking to physical health benefits. You should definitely do a little Google search of your own, but here are some great articles I read through:

Positive Thinking: Reduce Stress, Enjoy Life More (Mayo Clinic)
Optimism May Have Life-Extending Benefits (Health News)
Take the Path of Health and Psychology (Self Help Magazine)

So the signs are all around us (literally this week!) and they're all pointing toward optimism. Positive thinking is so important to our lives, and I hope that after reading through some of this science-supported research, that we can all start on a path toward being Optimal Optimists.

If you have seen or happen to see signs of positivity around you, take a picture and send it to me at OptimalOptimist@gmail.com. I would love to continue this series with more signs submitted by you to show that positive signs are everywhere!

Keep Smiling,

Friday, August 20, 2010

Signs, Signs, and More Signs: Part 4

Photo: from me!

Hello Optimists,

So far this week all of the positive signs I have shared with you were displayed (or rather, randomly placed) in a store window. But today’s message comes from a bit of a different place. As you can probably tell, the positive sign came from a Pepsi box. Way back when I drank soda, Pepsi was my favorite because I thought it tasted the best. Sorry to all of you Coke fans out there! These days, even though I don’t drink soda anymore, Pepsi is still my favorite- but not only because of that wonderfully sweet taste I remember bubbling in my mouth.

PepsiCo has been doing a lot lately to make the world a better place. Besides spreading this “Do Good” message, they’re throwing millions of dollars into their “Pepsi Refresh” project, which is inspiring everyone in the world to pitch an idea that gives back to their community, and they’ll help make it a reality. I’ve been on their website and searched through some of the Refresh Projects, and I’ll tell you, they’re really impressive. If you're interested about learning more about it, you can watch a little video on their site that explains it all.

The message on the box is simple: Do Good. I liked it so much that it’s now the wallpaper background on my phone, so every time I slide it open to check the time or make a call, it serves as a little reminder. But don’t let the simplicity of this little phrase fool you- those words carry a lot of weight. What I like best about it is that “good” can be defined in any way we’d like to interpret it…so there’s a lot of different kinds of good that can be done! Doing good things makes you (and the people you’re doing good for) very happy…and that’s why I immediately thought of today’s featured quote after thinking about this simple little message sent out by Pepsi.
Happiness is there for the taking- and making. –Oprah Winfrey
I really like this quote (and not only because it’s from Oprah). It’s really true- sometimes we think of happiness as something only we ourselves can have, but really, it’s something that we can help create in someone else’s life. It really is there for the taking and making, and thanks to big names like PepsiCo and Oprah, the word is out.

So let’s make sure that we get out there, Do some Good and remember to not only seek happiness, but create it.

Keep Smiling,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Signs, Signs, and More Signs: Part 3

Photo: from me!

Hello Optimists,

The next sign that popped up last week was printed on a t-shirt that was displayed in a storefront window. Among the others saying “Dewey Beach, DE” and “Surf’s Up” this shirt’s saying was a little more humorous. In fact, when I first read it, I laughed to myself, thinking that if there was ever an Optimal Optimist Boot Camp, this would for sure be the shirt every counselor was required to wear.

As I shopped around other stores later on that night, I couldn’t find any that compared to this one, and I just couldn’t get it off my mind. I really liked this shirt, minus the skull and cross bones, and while I don’t normally endorse beatings, I thought this was pretty funny. Plus the message it displayed was pretty strong; morale, or the confidence, enthusiasm, or discipline of a person or group, is something we should always try to keep positive.

This reminded me of a great quote that I once read, and while I think that the saying on the shirt was a good fit for today’s featured quote, I thought this one complimented it perfectly. 
Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude. Nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong attitude. – Thomas Jefferson
I love this one and it's truly a reminder of why we should keep our morale - and attitudes - in check all the time. If we keep a positive frame of mind and a good attitude, nothing can stop us. On the other hand if we carry a negative attitude with us all of the time and see things through a pessimistic viewpoint, then there's not much that can turn that view around. It's pretty hard to be successful, happy, and a fun person to be around when you've got a bad attitude, but when you've got a positive outlook, the world is yours and nothing can stand in your way.

I hope you can keep this quote in mind and realize how important a good attitude is. And if there's anyone out there who has this awesome "morale t-shirt", send me a picture while you're wearing it and I'll post it up on this blog!

Keep Smiling,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Signs, Signs, and More Signs: Part 2

Photo: from me!

Hello Optimists,

As promised, today’s post features yet another sign with a positive message that I stumbled upon last week. This time, I found the sign in the window display of a retail boutique store front, and though the clothes on the mannequins brought me in for a closer look, it was this sign at the bottom of the window that kept my attention.  I walked over to the display to admire a particularly cute little dress when this lovely little sign appeared in my view...

It seemed out of place - yet perfectly in place at the same time. I am used to signs in a retail space to say “50% off!”, “Blowout Sales”, or “Clearance” (or at least, that’s what I’d like them to say) but I usually don’t see signs with such a great message peeking through the glass in a clothing store. But I will say that just as the big sale signs lure me in to shop around, this sign sure did too. Who can walk away from a message like this:
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is that everything is a miracle.
This is a pretty powerful message, and as I thought more about it, I realized that it goes back to something that I’m always trying to do: appreciate the little things in life. I realize that it might seem a little bit weird to think of everything in life as a miracle, but sometimes if we stop to think about all of the great things that are going on around us, we just might be able to better understand the message in today’s featured quote. And, as a plus, this is a sure way to becoming an Optimal Optimist.

Great things are happening all around us, but the only way we can truly appreciate what’s going on is to understand how lucky we are to be a part of all of it. I hope you can keep an image of this sign in your mind, and more importantly, remember the great message that it’s displaying.

Keep Smiling,

Monday, August 16, 2010

Signs, Signs and More Signs, Part 1

Photo: from me!
Hello Optimists,

This week brings the official end of summer for me. But I can't complain, the past few months have been the absolute, hands down, no-doubt-about-it, best of my life - so it only seems fair that things get back to "the norm" for a bit. 

Though I've been having a lot of fun, I haven't let my optimistic outlooks on life wane at all; in fact, it seems as if signs of positivity have been following me everywhere I go! Bumper stickers, signs, books, t-shirts, buttons, and many other things all have caught my eye. The things that would often be overlooked by the average person seemed to be highlighted with blinking lights for me, and it seemed that no matter where I turned, there was another sign poking its head around the corner. 

This past week in particular a lot of signs - both literal and figurative - have crossed my path, and each time I'd see a new one, I couldn't help but smile and laugh to myself. Take for instance the picture at the top of the post. In a random pile of rubble in the corner of a messy retail space, this sign emerged from the other random articles of clothing and accessories. Among a heap of purses, vases, shoes, chairs, and bags, there was this sign waiting for me. I knew immediately that I had to feature this in one of my posts, and after stumbling on some other signs over the next few days, I thought I would make a whole week's worth of posts dedicated to the signs I found. Or maybe more appropriately, to the signs that found me.
Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.
This is such a great little saying. We often look to happiness as a place we want to reach, an island where there are no clouds or sadness, where birds chirp and people always greet you with a smile. That sounds like a nice place, right? Well while we'd all like to live in a place like this, we all know that there isn't a Happy Island somewhere out there that's reachable with our frequent flier miles. Happiness is not a destination. Instead we must remember that we can live on Happy Island 365 days a year from any point on earth, even right in the comfort of our own home town. We can do this because happiness is a way of life. So whether we live on the east coast or the west coast, on a boat or in a cave, we all have the chance to reach happiness. How we choose to live our lives determines how happy we can be.

I know that since starting this blog I have made a conscious effort to carry my positivity with me wherever I go. I chose to make my way of life known- not only to my friends and family, but most importantly, to myself. Happiness is part of the lifestyle that I have chosen to live, and it's because of that that I can "vacation" on Happy Island whenever I want. In fact, I think I'll take up permanent residency here...

I'll be sharing more of the other signs I stumbled upon in this week's coming posts.

Keep Smiling,

P.S. What do you think of my new layout? Share your likes/dislikes with me...I'd love to know your opinion! 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Good Thoughts Make Good Action

Photo: healthewoman.org

Hello Optimists,

I feel like I've been thinking some good thoughts lately. But unfortunately, that's all they were... just thoughts. I often wonder about how many great new inventions, breakthroughs, and "Ugh, I wish I thought of that!"'s there would be in this world if we would be more inclined to turn our thoughts into actions.

If I turned every one of my thoughts into an action, I would never stop moving. And I think that goes for most of us; we have a million thoughts that run through our heads every day, so how do we go about choosing which ones should be turned into action? Well, that's a loaded question in itself, but the important thing to remember here is that we need to pick at least some of those thoughts and make something of them. After I read today's featured quote, I was inspired to do just that...
A great thought speaks only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind. -Thomas Jefferson
This is a really great quote and it sure helped me understand that actions speak louder than words...err, thoughts. But if we want to make a difference in our lives or someone else's, we've got to put a plan into motion. The little thought bubbles floating around in our head can't really be shared with anyone else - they just sit there, bouncing around in our head until a few other good thoughts and ideas come along and push them out of the front row. So they sit in the back, forgotten, until we've got so many others in there that they are pushed permanently into the archives of our memory. But, if we can think up good thoughts, pick out the ones that can really make a difference, and start spinning our wheels into motion to make those thoughts a reality, we can share our good ideas with everyone we wish to.

So that's what I'll be working on for now- taking my good thoughts and turning them into good actions.

Keep Smiling,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stuck in a Rut...But Not Really.

Photo: losethattyre.co.uk

Hello Optimists,

Just the other day I stumbled across an article called "The Upside to Being in a Rut", so naturally, I had to read it. Being in a rut really stinks so I was curious to find out what "upside" there could be to it. As I was reading, I was totally loving the optimistic spin this author put on being in a rut, and at the end I thought, "Huh, well that's so true!". You can find the article here - I would suggest reading this little optimistic post for yourself, but the basic idea was that being in a rut only means that you're ready for something new and you're on the verge of your next big change.

Cool, huh? I guess I never really looked at it that way, but I think it's true. Usually whenever we find ourselves in a rut, we feel like all of our options have been exhausted, there's no one or no where to turn to-  basically like we're trying to climb an ice covered hill in the rain. But if you stop and think about it, isn't there always something new that comes into our life that sweeps us up out of that rut and places us on a new path? Sure, it may take a while and sometimes we may not even notice it, but we always end up finding some way to get out of that terrible rut.

After thinking a bit more about this whole idea, I remembered a great quote that would fit perfectly with this idea, and even better, it's from one of my favorite people.
One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself. -Lucille Ball
And I thought Lucy was just good at making us laugh...seems she's got a few good words of wisdom to share with us too. That second line really sticks out- Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself....hmm, seems like just the thing that can get us out of a rut. And it's just the thing that can lead us into our next big adventure, that new spark that always seems to pop up at just the right moment.

This is a great quote, and one we should definitely keep in mind. Take a look at that article I read about "The Upside of Being in a Rut" and let me know what you think. Do you agree with what this author had to say? How do you get yourself out of a rut?

Keep Smiling,

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lock and Key

Photo: rei.com

Hello Optimists,

I was in the market for a new bike lock to make sure my bright and shiny new bike doesn't get swiped from the rack, and I was quite surprised at the variety of locks there is to choose from. I was expecting to walk into the aisle, scan through the shelves until I spotted a lock, grab one, and head for the check out. Well, it wasn't quite that easy. Not only are there 5 different brands all claiming to be the "#1 selling bike lock company", but there are also many different kinds. Do I want a U-shaped lock, a cable combination, a key lock, a padlock, a long cable, a short cable...? Gee, all I wanted was a little lock, and there I stood with 10 pounds of metal in my hands, trying to decide which would be best.

I ultimately decided on the short cable key lock if for no other reason than I knew I would always have the key on me and wouldn't have to worry about forgetting my combination! It's kind of funny to me that we even need to lock up our bikes here- thinking back to when I was in Amsterdam, there were literally hundreds of bikes on every street corner, and not one of them had a lock. There just must be a universal understanding between everyone there not to steel someone else's bike. I wish we could catch on to that!

So as I was thinking more about our security issues here in the U.S. and about the purpose of a lock and key- to keep a controlled and limited access of something of importance to us- I couldn't help but remember this quote I once read. I searched through my list to find it, and I thought it would go perfectly with my little bike lock story. Plus it's a good one to keep in mind, so alas, here is today's featured quote:
Your attitude is either the lock on, or the key to the door of success. -Denis Waitley 
The "door of success" can be thought of as my bike- something very important that I want to keep in good condition (a.k.a. out of the hands of strangers and thieves!). When it's locked up and bound to the bike rack, it's out of commission and cannot be ridden. But that can change very easily when I whip out my key and unlock it, allowing free access and giving myself the ability to steer it any way I wish. In either case- the lock or the key- we can think of this as our attitude. Our attitude can definitely be that lock on the door to success, and just like the bike lock, can keep us and our successes "out of commission", with no room for riding. Or, our attitude can be the key to our door of success. (This is a much better option). With our key, we open up the possibilities for our successes- like our bike, once that chain comes off, we're free to ride. With a good attitude that acts as the key to our successes, we can steer ourselves in any direction we please. And once we've done that, look out Lance Armstrong, we're coming at ya!

What's simple about this is that we don't have to decide whether we need a padlock, a key lock, a U-shape, etc. We just need to decide whether we want in our out. Do we want to lock up that door that leads to our successes, or do we want a big ol' brass key to open it up? We can make the decision as to which end we'd like to be on.

I think I'll take the key...how about you?

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Think Positive Thoughts

Photo: flickr.com (Swordfish Media)

Hello Optimists,

It was so great to connect with some new bloggers yesterday- being a Blogger of Note really does have its benefits! I loved visiting new blogs and reading posts about a variety of things...it spiced things up a bit! All of the encouraging comments I received yesterday made me realize even more the power behind positive thinking, so of course, this inspired me to keep on writing!

It's pretty interesting to think about the power that words play in our lives. Whether they are spoken, read, heard, or written, they have an impact. The good words can really lift you up, while the bad ones can drag you down- but either way, your attitudes, thoughts and beliefs have been affected. I know when I see or hear inspiring words, they stick with me- partly because I try my hardest to keep them fresh in my memory so I can blog about them, and also because I like to embody those words and make them part of my life. I try to keep those words fresh in my mind so that whenever I need a little boost, I know just where to turn.

But having an inventory of good phrases and quotes in your mind is only half the battle. The way we think about these words is also very important. Today's featured quote really enforces this idea, so I thought it would be perfect to use in today's post.
Your life is what your thoughts make it. -Marcus Aurelius 
Ah, so true! Our thoughts really do make a difference in how we live our lives! So of course this means that positive thinking = a positive life, right? Well, it takes some work, I know, but if we can commit ourselves to just one more optimistic thought a day, we can be on the road to living a happier life. We can all live the good life...and it starts with thinking good thoughts.

I hope that you know the incredible power your thoughts have on your daily life. So keep at it; think at least one more positive thought today and soon enough, you'll be an Optimal Optimist!

Keep Smiling,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Yayy! I'm A Blogger of Note!

Photo: blogohblog.com

Hello Optimists,

I'm so excited and honored to be named today's Blogger of Note (BON) from Words of Wisdom (WOW)! I'd like to welcome all of my new readers who are stopping by and also those who have been following since the start of Optimal Optimist! I started this blog back in November as just a little something to keep me occupied and to ease my constant desire to write and spread a positive message, and it has turned out to be not only a "project" of sorts, but an incredibly fun journey.

Each new post of mine contains a quote that inspires me, motivates me, or just gives me a little dose of positivity for my day and I share them with all of my readers in hopes of making our days a bit happier. I want to help others get the most out of life. I want everyone to enjoy every minute along the way, and to me, the best way to start doing that is to is to think positively. Being an Optimist is pretty fun- you start to notice and appreciate the little things in life, look on the "bright side", and somewhere along the way, you notice your smile starting to grow. So here I am, 189 quotes in, and still typing away. I have met a lot of other great bloggers who share similar interests and I have absolutely loved chatting with everyone through comments and emails. So I invite all of you new Optimists in to join to fun!

As this is pretty much the "Emmy of blogging" (or so I'd like to think!) I of course have prepared a little acceptance speech that I'd like to share. (And there better not be any "cue music" playing 30 seconds in!) Ahem...

A BIG thanks goes to Sandy and Pam from WOW whose hard work and mission of "helping bloggers of substance find each other" is so much appreciated by all of us out here in the blogosphere. I have found a lot of great blogs from their BON list and I look forward to discovering some more in the future! Thank you for always hooking us up with other great bloggers whose content is top notch!

I'd like to give a shout out and big big big thank you to my Blogger friend Kathy over at Everyday Bliss for nominating me to be a BON. She has been a follower from early on and always leaves the most thoughtful and uplifting comments. If you haven't yet read any of Kathy's posts, you should head on over, join the fun, and read how she inspires us to live wonderfully blissful lives.

And finally, thanks to all of my other blogger friends who share in my passion for positivity. It always makes my day to see your comments- your responses and words of encouragement are what have kept me blogging all of this time!

Today's featured quote was submitted by none other than my nominator, Kathy from Everyday Bliss. I really love this one and I have added it to my "favorites" list, and after reading it here today, I bet you will too.
Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. -Howard Thurman
That really is what the world needs! When we do the things that make us happy, spend time with the people who make us smile, and surround ourselves with the things that fill us with joy, our world will be a better place. It's so important that we always be on the look-out for the things in life that make us feel alive, and once we've found them, make them a part of our every day life. The world needs more happy, positive, optimistic people to let all of those Negative Nancy's out there know that it's o.k. to crack a smile once in a while. So let's all take a minute to ask ourselves what makes us come alive and inspire others to do the same, because we can all help make our world be a better place.

If you'd like to read some other posts and featured quotes, here are 3 that I thought you might enjoy. I invite you to read through them, browse through my archives, or check out my "favorite posts" tab. If you're a new Optimist, leave a comment saying hi- I'd love to hear from you!

Trust Me, I'm (Not) A Doctor

Quote Collectors

Speaking A Language Anyone Can Understand

Keep Smiling,

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Shark Week

Photo: sidereel.com

Hello Optimists,

Shark Week on the Discovery Channel has turned out to be my most recent (and enjoyable!) form of procrastination. It's pretty sad, but that series just hooks me right in. Thank goodness it only lasts for a week, and then maybe I can get something accomplished.

I don't know if you're a fan, but I can't remember a time when I wasn't extremely excited to watch these shows. When I was little, I was completely convinced I wanted to be a marine biologist, so I'd incessantly watch the Discovery Channel like it was the only station on television. I used to like bugs and frogs and all kinds of gross little creatures. And then one day, all of that changed, and now I really, really don't like creepy crawly things. Sharks, though, are still on my good list, so my fascination with them hasn't really waned.

They're pretty mysterious creatures; they can be beautiful and elegant and at the same time, take off one of your limbs with one little chomp. These "predators of the deep" are ancient animals, dating back to the time of the dinosaurs...pretty cool. But what's also really cool about them is that they're natural born hunters. They know what they want, and they go get it.

Because I've watched a million episodes about sharks, I know that they can sense the sounds and smells of their prey from miles away, and will travel long distances to reach their target. They can swim in the deep, dark water or are just as happy to cruise along the shallow shores. And when they spot a poor little seal pup swimming alone in the water, they go get it. I thought about sharks when I read today's quote, so I thought it would only be appropriate to feature it during Shark Week.
If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to it. 
That's the thing about sharks: they don't wait for their ship to come in. There's no waiting around or wishing and hoping that it will anchor at their chosen spot. No, not in a shark's world. They bring themselves to the ship. That's why they're such fierce predators and that's why they get what they want.

It seems pretty simple, right? So why aren't we all like sharks? Well, first of all, our orthodontist makes sure we only have one row of teeth after the age of 12. But aside from that, why does it seem that we wait around for good things to come to us instead of taking ourselves to the good things? I love this quote because it's so simple, yet I have to constantly remind myself to get up and go do or get what I want. I know I can't just be waiting around here for good things to come my way...I've got to make it happen. I hope that you can keep this little quote in the back of your mind and use it as a little burst of inspiration when you need it most- when you're feeling like just kicking back and waiting for something good to come your way or when you need to gather up the courage to realize your dreams.

So I'm ready now to get going and swim out to my ship. Well, right after this episode of Shark Week is over...

Keep Smiling,

Monday, August 2, 2010

How (not) To Find Yourself

Photo: explorerpass.com

Hello Optimists,

Hope you had a great weekend! I took a quick trip to New York City to visit my best friend who's interning there for the summer and though I've been to the city many times, we tried to go to the "real" New York and venture off to places that aren't typically considered a touristy area. We wanted to steer clear of Times Square and the Theatre District, walk far away from the heavy traffic and crowds on Broadway, and leave the overly-crowded Rockefeller Center behind. So we opted to go to Union Square where we walked through an awesome farmer's market, to Washington Square Park to listen to the on (and off) beat musicians who return day after day to play their instruments, and finally to Brooklyn, where the drone of truck engines and car horns seems to die down.

I saw a lot of different kinds of people, which was actually pretty refreshing. I mean, of course this is what one would expect when one visits New York City- the melting pot inside of the melting pot - but it amazed me that so many different kinds of people can live together in one little place and have it be considered (arguably) the best city on earth.

I thought that this would be a good place to find yourself, to really feel o.k. to be who you want to be. I think that's why this city appeals to so many. Little judgement is cast on those who would normally be considered out of the norm, but not in NYC. Not in the city where hipsters chill with the preps, the young mix with the old, and the rich rub elbows with the poor (and not only because there's no standing room on the sidewalks). So this must be where people go to find themselves.

At least that's what I thought until I read the next reader-submitted quote anyway. This one was posted anonymously, which might actually be quite fitting considering the quote...
Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself. -George Bernard Shaw 
Up until now I really thought that there was a way to "find" your true self- to be immersed in a culture that seemed to fit just right, to have friends that you can really consider friends, to feel like there is nothing missing from your world, and you have that great feeling of relief and happiness like after finally finding that lost earring that's been missing for two weeks. You know, it's that "Ah, yes! I've found it!" feeling.

But this quote made me realize that we should put down that magnifying glass and stop searching so hard to "find" ourselves. Where's Waldo? was a fun game to play when we were little, but this is our lives we're talking about here. It's up to us to create the world in which we want to live and to create the life that we've been looking for. So maybe that's why people love New York City- they have, pretty much at their fingertips, a multitude of culture, religion, society, careers, excitement, and one too many Starbucks where they have the chance to create the life they want to live.

I guess I'll stop my search and pull out my drawing board, and though I am no Picasso, I now know that I'm holding the paint brush...I have control of this canvas that I'm about to paint and it's up to me to create whatever kind of art that I wish. I hope you too can keep this quote in mind and really take it's meaning to heart...so don't just find, create!

Keep Smiling,