Friday, January 29, 2010

It's a Small World (After All)


Hello Optimists,

I've been thinking a lot lately about places I'd like to go, things I'd like to do, new people I'd like to meet...I don't know why that is, but I've just been thinking about it. It may have something to do with the fact that a few of my friends are in Europe right now, while I'm stuck here, in (as my mom calls it) "Filthydelphia". Not that I'm not happy here, it's just that I feel that it's time for something new and exciting.

There's so much out there to see, so many new experiences to be had and new people to connect with. People often say "it's such a small world", but really, I kind of think the opposite. It's a huge world... like, H-u-g-e (with a capital H). And when I really start to think about things like that, it makes me feel like just an ant crawling through the dirt in this gigantic world. But when I came across today's quote, it changed my thinking a bit. Sure, we may only be one person in the almost 7 billion people living on Earth, but that doesn't mean we should feel unimportant or insignificant. Though who we know and associate with accounts for only a fraction of the people in this world, we may mean more than we think to those we share our lives with. I hope you can feel the same impact from this quote as I did...

You may only be someone in the world, but to someone else, you may be the world. 


Ah, this is a good one. I was all wrapped up in the mindset of being only one person in the world, interacting with only a few people, and, in the midst of feeling so unimportant, I didn't give enough consideration toward just how important I can be to those I already know. So it doesn't matter how many people you have in your Rolodex, or how many stamps you have on your passport; what does matter is realizing your importance to those around you. So while I am still hell-bent on going somewhere new ASAP, I am definitely going to take the time to be "present in my presence", if you will, and make sure that if someone does consider me to be "their world", I'm determined to make it a damn good one. So maybe it is a small world after all... I guess I should have really paid attention to that song when my family vacationed at Disney World many moons ago.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bucket List Revival



Hello Optimists,

Remember the movie The Bucket List? You know, with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson...yeah, that movie about accomplishing everything you wanted to do before you die. It was a very inspirational (though sad) movie, but I thought it told a wonderful tale of two very different men on a mission to live life to the fullest. It was on TV recently, and though I've seen it quite a few times, I can never refuse it. So this got me to thinking about how many other people it might have inspired or moved in a way to make every day count, to live in the moment, and not to hold back. I know I made a bucket list after watching....did you?

Well, I think the movement caught on. There's a new reality show on MTV called The Buried Life that follows the same premise: 4 guys are on a mission to complete everything on their "bucket list", and each time they can scratch something off of their list, they help a stranger complete something on theirs. I've only seen a little bit of one episode, and while some of the things they're doing to compete their goals are a little outrageous, I think that what they're doing in return through volunteering and helping others is great. So I thought in light of the revival of this movie, I would feature a quote spoken by Morgan Freeman's character that holds a lot of weight...

We hold the power and bare the responsibility. -The Bucket List


I told you it was a pretty heavy one. But it's absolutely true and can be applied to a lot of different situations. It's almost like a fill in the blank kind of statement...like when I first heard it in the movie, I thought it applied to our lives: We hold the power to live our lives however we want and it's our responsibility to make it the best we can. After reading it again before writing this post, the devastating situation in Haiti came to mind: We hold the power to provide help to those in need, and we bare the responsibility of making sure we do all that we can to make sure it happens. The power is in our hands and the responsibility is resting on our shoulders. It's kind of like the other quote "With great power comes great responsibility", but this version seems to really take action.

So as you can see, the meaning of this quote can change through time, but that's one of the reasons I like it so much. The interpretation is up to you...you hold the power to make of it what you will and bare the responsibility of living true to  those words. See? There's another one! I just can't help it... So, make a promise to yourself that if you have the power to do something, take on the responsibilities that come along with it.


Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Philly's Big Ben



Hello Optimists,

I recently read an article that claims Philly is ranked 5th in the top 10 cities for single women, which is pretty great news- whether or not I believe it is another story. Apparently I have been missing something....but I won't go there. Anyway, All the Single Ladies (insert Beyonce dance here) aside, it did have some great things to say about the city of brotherly love. And though I already know that this is a pretty cool city with lots to offer, reading about it in this article made it seem so much better. One of the best things I like about Philly is the mix between old and new. A few blocks away from the tallest and most modern building in the city, the Comcast Center, is Old City, where you can stroll through the streets where our founding fathers once travelled and walk through the rooms in Independence Hall where "it all began". Pretty cool.

So I thought today I'd feature a quote from a fellow Philadelphian, Ben Franklin. This man is noted for a lot of great things- namely for being one of the founding fathers of America, a politician, inventor, scientist, printer, philosopher, musician, economist...the list goes on and on and on. And Philly is proud to call him one of their own and has given him the recognition he deserves- it's the place where he eternally rests, and his name is carried on through the Franklin Institute Science Museum and the Ben Franklin National Memorial. So with all of this other recognition, I thought he deserved a place on Optimal Optimist. Doesn't exactly carry the clout of the Franklin Institute, but hey, it's something. I think he should be called the Big Ben of Philadelphia, never mind London. So without any further ado, here is today's featured quote:

If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading or do something worth the writing. -Ben Franklin


A very good one, indeed, and I am quite sure that Ben has lived up to these words. He certainly wrote many things worth reading and many things worth the writing. I guess he really knows what he's talking about, and it's true: If you want to be remembered, the things you do need to be worthy of it. So as you go through your days, remember today's quote try to be like Ben...and if nothing else, maybe your face will end up on a hundred dollar bill...now that wouldn't be so bad, would it?

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Microphone Required





Hello Optimists,

I always hear comments about "my generation" in that we don't value tradition or don't have as much respect toward others as they did in the past. I hear that we've lost the please and thank you's and that you should forget about anyone holding a door open for you or allowing you to jump ahead in line at the grocery store even when you're only grabbing a gallon of milk. I guess for some, this is true, but I don't think we're totally a lost cause. At least I'd like to think that anyway. I just believe that times have changed, and new times call for new behaviors. And let's face it, things are always changing....so the "kids" of today might even be the ones commenting on the rude behaviors of tomorrow's "kids". But in defense of my generation, I don't think that it's just us that have lost touch with the ways of tradition, I just think it's society as a whole that has moved on and adapted to the new world. So give us "kids" a break already! 

But, this got me thinking about the things that we valued back in the day, and where they've gone missing in today's world. I often hear that people today have lost their consideration for others and that kind words have gone out the window. Well, I don't think that's entirely true, but I get why some people might think that. So in an attempt to rid this new world of lost values and inconsideration, I thought I would feature this lovely quote today in hopes of doing just that...

Kind words are short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. -Mother Theresa


So while we may believe that our future lies in the hands of some delinquents whose vocabulary consists only of four letter swear words, maybe we can spread the word about quotes like this that remind us just how important kindness can be. I think Mother Theresa was really speaking the truth here- though I would expect nothing less- because sometimes just the little things can make all the difference in the way people see us. Words and acts of kindness are always appreciated, and most importantly, remembered. You know how much it means to you when someone treats you kindly and you know that that leaves an impression on you about their character and personality. That impression, or endless echo, is the thing that can change the negative image of today's social values...and lucky for us, it's quite easy to do - no microphone required.

I think we should stop harping on those that are "ruining" society, and start demonstrating how easy it is for us to be kind. Making a great impression in this way can, and will, make a difference. So give it a try today and speak as many kind words as you can. I bet the echoes that come back to you will be in the form of others doing just the same.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, January 25, 2010

Seussical



Hello Optimists,

I know I've written about Dr. Seuss before in my Christmas post and I am sure I will continue to do so in the future. He really did have some great things to say- and it didn't hurt that his stories rhymed so wonderfully (even if most of those words were made up! Seriously, Google "Dr. Seuss words" and see all of the crazy things that come up). His stories have created a legacy of characters not only from books, but movies and musicals as well with fans young and old all over the world. So while I am not usually a fan of musical theatre, I think I know why Seussical the Musical was such a hit.

Sometimes I think it's sad that I'm now in my twenties and just beginning to appreciate the wonderful messages behind his work, but at the very least, I did enjoy them quite a bit when I was younger - but probably only because of the cool illustrations and bright colors. I just wish I could understand what great lessons he was teaching us way back then...

Anyway, what matters is that I continue to learn from him even today. The featured quote for today is one of my favorites in my collections from Dr. Seuss and I have a slight suspicion that I will see it on the top of your list too. It really helps me to remain true to myself without worrying about what other people may think or say...and you'll see why I think that way after reading the quote.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter won't mind. -Dr. Seuss


This is absolutely true and a very good reason to remain true to yourself and your beliefs. Why should we be so worried about what all of those other people think, when in the grand scheme of things, they aren't really a big part of our lives. And those that are lucky enough to be a part of our lives love us enough to accept us for who we are. So when people say "Don't worry about what other people think", and we agree, all the while knowing that we are definitely going to worry about that, we should definitely remember this quote. Now in addition to reciting Green Eggs and Ham, I will also have this quote ready to roll thanks to good 'ol Dr. Seuss.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Real Steeler



Hello Optimists,

Hooray for the weekend! Fridays make me (and probably you too!) very happy, so I thought I would post one of my favorite quotes about finding happiness. It comes from someone who lead a quite successful life and found happiness in many different ways- Andrew Carnegie. He is referred to as the second wealthiest man in history, after John D. Rockefeller, and earned most of his wealth in the steel industry. And you thought Ben Roethlisberger was a real Steeler! Anyway, aside from being known for his fame, he is also highly regarded in philanthropy and education and has founded universities and museums and established many endowments, among many other things.

So I guess we can get right to today's featured quote. It really is one of my all time favorites, and I think you'll soon see why....

If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes. -Andrew Carnegie


Though I have a lot of different quotes about finding happiness, this one in particular stands out. It really shows that happiness comes from within and that by using your own thoughts, energy, and hopes, you can be as happy as you want to be. It's all about challenging yourself to seek the good things in life, things that will make you become even greater than you already are. We set goals all the time- new year's resolutions, personal promises, public pledges....but in completing them, are we making ourselves happy? If not, we need to follow Carnegie's advice. I know this seems like quite a hefty task, but this strong statement really is encouraging and uplifting.

So, start off this weekend with a goal that commands, liberates, and inspires, and see if in the end you've found yourself to be a little happier than when you began. I think Carnegie was really on to something here, and I look forward to finding happiness in my life through these ways. Have a wonderful weekend!

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Family



Hello Optimists,

It's been a while since I've watched The Godfather. But even after having seen all 9 hours and 43 minutes of the saga more times than I'd like to admit, I still love to watch it. I don't know if it's the suspense and action of the plot, the great cast of actors, the great lines like "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli", or the little traditions that all we Italians share, but I don't think I can ever get tired of watching it. And no, my family is not in any way affiliated with the mafia. No one has ever heard that my dad "paints houses", nor has any family conversation ever revolved around someone getting "whacked". Just thought I'd clear that up.

But I started thinking about all of this recently after I read today's featured quote because it's all about family. And though The Godfather's family bond was strong for a few different reasons than what I'm discussing today, I had to resist repeating this quote over and over in my head in my best Don Corleone voice....

Other things may change, but we start and end with the family. -Anthony Brandt

So, all Godfather themes aside, I really like this quote. And it's quite true. Though we may go through many things in our lives, move to different parts of the world, or lose touch for years, the fact remains that in the end, your family is still there. I am lucky enough to have proof of this in my own family. But we don't necessarily have to be talking about just our parents or brothers and sisters here. There are many definitions of family out there, but one I found to be right on was "a person or people related to one and so to be treated with special loyalty". Funny, because right under that definition is a secondary description: "A group of people united in criminal activity". So we may not be straying so far from the Corleone's after all. Anywayyyy... basically, your family can be your parents, best friends, or your neighbors. It doesn't really matter how closely you follow the "traditional" definitions of the word, but what does matter is that you know who you family is and appreciate the bond of loyalty, respect, and love that is shared.

So, take a moment today to remember your family and to realize what an important part they play in your life. I know I certainly will. And, what the heck, if the Godfather's on AMC this week, I might just have to sit down and watch that too.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Number One Spot



                                                

Hello Optimists,

Sometimes I feel like there is just so much going on that I can't even think straight. And don't get me wrong, I like to be busy, I like to have things on my to-do list. But sometimes, in the midst of trying to get a thousand things done at once, I lose track of the important things that should be my main concern. I think it's kind of easy for us all to get caught up in the things that are going on in life without taking a minute to stop and evaluate our priorities.

Today's quote really gave me a chance to do just that. It's kind of like the clear solution to the problem that seems so blatantly obvious that it's a little obscure. It's one of those things that's so simple it's complicated. It's so easy it's hard. But after reading it, I realized that it's really not complicated or hard...it really is as simple as it reads...

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. -Stephen Covey


I think this quote should be read over a loud speaker across the globe because I believe that a lot of people need to hear this. It seems so simple, but a lot of people are too worried about doing this or making that and being here before rushing there and...ugh, it's exhausting. While it's good to have your hand in a few baskets, I think we need to cool it. In trying to do a million things, we sometimes end up not getting anything done. We somehow believe that being stretched in ten different directions is the norm, and people would be appalled if we didn't have a Superman uniform on under our shirts. Besides, that costume is really not that flattering. Someone should really redesign that.

So take a moment today to think about your main thing, and set aside all of the other things that are getting in the way. It'll be like a detox for your mind. And I bet after doing that, you'll feel soooo much better. Remember that keeping the main thing the main thing will bring order to your life and help you realize what's really important in your world. So concentrate on that number one spot and let all the other unimportant stuff slide for now...

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Let the Sun In



Hello Optimists,

After much thought and consideration about this subject, I have come to a conclusion: My alarm clock is my most hated possession. There is nothing I would like more than to throw it out of my window every morning when it so rudely blares its echoing beep through my ears. It's like having a dump truck idling  along side of your bed that a construction worker left in reverse. And the snooze button? Ugh, what a tease. Five whole minutes of peace and quiet and then I'm jolted back to reality again when the beeping returns, like a bad song you can't get out of your head. I should invest in one of those fancy ones that plays birds chirping or a waterfall or something...although that may lead to some other unwanted problems. But we won't go there.

But what I do like to wake me up is the sunlight streaming through the shades. I know that a lot of people find this even more annoying than the alarm clock, but I find that it immediately puts me in a good mood, even if I still want to be asleep under the covers. It's just that great feeling of warmth and light that makes me excited to start the day, to go outside and breathe in the fresh air. Ahhhhhhh....

Today's quote made me think about this time of the day that I think is one of the greatest. However, I think the quote's meaning is two-fold; it has a literal meaning and, of course, stands as a metaphor for our lives. It reminded me that each of us is responsible for shining the light on our own lives.

If the shutters are closed, no sunlight can come in. -A New Earth

This quote comes from another one of my favorite books, A New Earth. And like I said about Eat Pray Love, you need to read this one too. (Did this just turn into a book review blog or what?) Anyway, it's a great quote. Basically, we need to be open to things in life, because if we're not, good things will not be able to find a way into our lives. We're all looking to find things that make everyday better, more fun..we just want to get the most we can out of life. And that's great! But, we also need to do all we can in order for that to happen. We can't just sit around in "darkness", waiting for great things to happen. We need to go out there, experience new things, go new places, meet new people, and open our hearts and minds to the great things that are happening around us. Keeping your shutters closed will not let this happen.

So before I go to bed tonight, I'm going to make sure that the sunlight can stream through my blinds and wake me up in the morning...and I'll also keep that in mind as I go through the day. I encourage you to do the same. So go ahead, open the shutters and let the sun shine in your life.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Bumper Sticker



Hello Optimists,

Isn't it funny how sometimes things pop up in the most unexpected ways and give you a sign about things you've been thinking about? Or if you hear a really weird and interesting word for the first time, don't you love how you see or hear it everywhere from that time on? It's a pretty weird coincidence...or is it? I sometimes like to think that it's not just pure luck that we come across things like that, but rather, a sign from someone or somewhere that's bigger than us trying to relay a message.

It sometimes amazes me when I come across a quote that I want to write about. Sometimes it's a line from a movie, sometimes it's in a book...I've even used a quote that I found at a car repair shop! Who would ever think? You never know what you'll find when you're waiting to get your car inspected. Today's featured quote comes from a bumper sticker that I saw probably about two years ago, but its message has remained in my mind ever since. Now, while I have been taught to never ever put any big stickers or magnets or anything of the sort onto my car, I will acknowledge that some of the people that choose to put things on their cars are often on to something. I think it's a great way to spread your message, besides all of those gross and offensive ones....because really, there's not much else people can do to occupy their time at a red light. Anyway, I think this one is really important for us all to remember..

Live simply so others may simply live. 


This is very true. We often get caught up feeling like we need to live an extravagant lifestyle when there are other people in other countries who can't even have three meals a day. I mean, it would be pretty awesome to have a private jet and three houses, but meanwhile, there are some people who don't even have one house, or a roof for that matter. Now, I understand that some of the people living in these decrepit conditions may have made poor choices throughout their lives and "did it to themselves", but others did not. So maybe if we spread the love, and the private jets around the world, those that are not living such a great life might find hope in the possibility of living a slightly better and more fulfilling life.

Though we may not always be expecting to find a meaningful message in an unexpected place, you just never know...so always have your eyes - and minds - open. And next time you're at a red light or a stop sign (just please not while moving) take a look around at some bumper stickers, because you may just find a little message that sticks with you forever.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, January 15, 2010

Stand Tall



Hello Optimists,

There's a reason this president has a 20 foot statue inside a beautiful memorial at our nation's capital. Not only did he lead our nation out of its greatest internal battle ever, but used his words to inspire thousands to reunite and prosper as one. He's really my kinda guy. These words have carried through to today's world, where everything seems so different from the time when this man held the presidency...and this goes to show how important his messages were no matter what era they were spoken in. Of course, I'm talking about good 'ol Abraham Lincoln, better known as Honest Abe.

He sure has said a lot of great things, namely his whole Emancipation Proclamation. But, he is also known for many other profound statements and words of wisdom that have become some of America's most well-known quotes. The one I found today may not be one of his most famous, but it sure is a very powerful one nonetheless. It is short and to the point, yet very effective. Just how I like it. So I hope you can enjoy it too....

Be sure to put your feet in the right place. Then stand firm. -Abraham Lincoln


I think this is great advice because we need to be confident in where we're going and what we're doing. We need to be sure of where we're headed and then hold our ground. It doesn't help much if we just float along and follow the leads and opinions of others. We need to stick to our guns and have faith in our decisions and abilities; this is what can allow us, and others around us, to feel confident in what we're doing and be excited to move on and be even better. I think what Abe is saying is that we all need to stand tall, stand proud, and stand firm...and I think I'll take his advice. Though this quote may not be one of his most well-known, I think you should keep it in mind as your go through your day.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Copy Cats



Hello Optimists,

I'm a big proponent of individualism. I think it's really important for all of us to learn to stand on our own two feet and fend for ourselves, but sadly I've learned that not many people are capable of doing this. On the same note, I also think it is very important for us to live our own lives, not trying to be like someone else. Where's the fun in that? Seriously, we need to be able to be our own person and let the world see why each of us is awesome.

I started thinking about all of this when I came across a quote I saved from one of my favorite books. I know I've mentioned it before..and I'll do it again because if you haven't read it, please do. Today's quote comes from Eat Pray Love and is really one of my favorites.

It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of someone else's life with perfection. -Eat Pray Love


Couldn't have said it better myself. By living your life as though you are someone else, you are doing yourself a disservice. Your life is your chance to shine, to show the world what you've got, what you're made of, and what makes you you. And if you aren't exactly perfect at doing that, it's ok! (I mean, who is, really?) But saying "I did this and this and this just like Angelina Jolie" won't do much to make you unique...because well, Angie already did it, and there are probably thousands of others trying to do the same. But doing things your own way and making a name for yourself will definitely make you stand out, and the only name in lights will be yours. How great is that?! So remember, as my second grade self would say, no copy-cats allowed.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Who's Watching?



Hello Optimists,

When you hear the name Yogi Berra, you think of the great game of baseball, the Yankees, and one of the best catchers of all time. I think of all of those things too, but I also think about some of his great "one-liners" that he has also become quite noted for. My dad is a big fan of Yogi, and he even has one of his books that highlights some of his most memorable quotes and stories...like "It ain't over til it's over" or "I never said most of the things I said". I think the title of this book is If You See A Fork in the Road, Take It. Whatever that means.

So obviously some of his most well known quotes don't make much sense, but they are quite funny. And I like to laugh, so I looked through some and found one that I thought was particularly interesting...

You can observe a lot by just watching. -Yogi Berra


Ok, I hear ya, This one is quite obvious too! Well that's what I thought upon first glance. And then I thought about it for a moment, and I don't know what it was, but suddenly, I got it. The fact that I understand it could be a good thing or a bad thing...I really haven't decided yet. But maybe you'll get it too. I hope. So just think about it for a second.

We see thousands of different things throughout the day. But are we really watching what's happening? I think it's too easy for us to be distracted by other non-important things than for us to actually watch and observe what's going on in our lives. Sometimes, our eyes are open, but we're not seeing. And this is where Yogi hits the nail on the head. We have to actually open our eyes and watch what is going on in our world in order to truly understand our surroundings. Only then can we begin to observe the beautiful things that surround us each and every day. How often is it that you sit in front of the TV to watch a game, and only until the roar of the crowd do you finally snap out of it and watch what's happening on the screen? Thank goodness for instant replay! It happens to me all the time, and not just in front of the TV, but sometimes just in general. We all just have those "space out" moments, and though we look like we may be in the moment, we're not quite "there".

So while I may not be the biggest supporter of some of Yogi's other quotes, I will hand it to him on this one. Remember that you can observe a lot by just watching...but make sure you're really watching. I bet you'll be amazed at what you can see.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Stopped Clock



Hello Optimists,

Ever had one of those days where it seems like nothing is going right, where you feel that your contributions are useless? Ugh, I hate those. But, on the bright side, we know that we're not alone in feeling this...it happens to everyone. Whenever this happens with me, I can't help but think that everything that's going wrong is no one else's fault but my own. Couldn't I have been more prepared? Did I really think this was going to work? Ugh, I should have known! I probably shouldn't burden myself with all of those questions that won't at all help the situation, but I can't help it.

So in the midst of my most recent coulda woulda shoulda's, I took a moment to stop feeling so awful about the situation and so sorry for myself and decided that I needed to change my thinking. And then, I conveniently came across today's quote that seemed to reaffirm my decision....

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.


And ya know, that's true! Now, as a chronic watch wearer, I will admit that a dead watch battery is, to me, like going through the day with a blindfold on. I don't know why I'm so attached, but I have this constant need to know the time...at all times! But I digress...

This quote really opened my eyes and made me realize that even though something may not be working out as perfectly as planned, somewhere along the line, you will find that good things are still happening. We need to look on the bright side, especially on those days where you think you were probably better off staying in bed...because things are not always as bad as we make them out to be. And sometimes, good things come from the bad, the unexpected, and the "wrong". So don't beat yourself up so much the next time you feel as useless as a stopped clock, because at some point, you will be serving your purpose, it may just not be as you expected.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Top



Hello Optimists,

Success in life is often measured by what we call "reaching the top". On the job front, we climb "the corporate ladder", with a lot of money we live "the high life", we're often told "don't stop 'til you reach 'the top'". So where exactly is this place up there that we're all racing to get to? And how do we know things will be better up there?

This got me thinking about the fact that so many of us "with direction" in life may not be as far ahead as we'd like to think. We're all essentially climbing a nonexistent staircase to the top of a room with no ceiling. So why is it that we always tend to measure success by how quickly we've made it to the top of...well, to the top of wherever we all think we're going? These questions kept on swirling through my head until I read today's quote...

I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs but how high he bounces when he hits bottom. -George S. Patton


Success is not only measured by who reaches the top; sometimes we must hit "the bottom" to really realize our purpose. Sometimes we don't truly know who we are and where we're headed until we go in the total opposite direction. And a lot of times, you can really see a person's true character in the way he reacts in not only times of success and triumph, but also in the trying and more difficult times. It is the way in which we can recover that sends a message about our true abilities, characteristics, and self motivation...and that's a true measure of success. So don't worry if you haven't been ascending to the "top" as quickly as expected....I don't know anyone that has had a straight shot up there. And remember that sometimes we need to face some setbacks in order to give us that extra strength to find our place on this ladder everyone keeps talking about.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, January 8, 2010

Green Thumb



Hello Optimists,

This is usually about the time of year when I start yearning for signs of spring. And I'll take anything: birds chirping, clear skies, driving with the window open for more than 10 seconds, and preferably not wearing five layers, a ski jacket, hats, gloves, a scarf, and boots. Although if the boots are cute, I can be o.k. with wearing those for a bit longer. Needless to say, I am just not a fan of the cold. In the winter, there are bare trees, no pretty flowers, dirty roads....ugh, I just really don't like any part of it. As I brace for the coldest part of the winter yet, I realize that there is probably still a good 2-3 months left, so I think I'll just have to find a way to bare this.

As I was thinking more about the springtime and all of the pretty flowers that begin to bloom, I was also thinking about how much work we have to put into making them beautiful. They usually don't just bloom on their own; at some point the land needs to be cultivated, the seed needs to be planted, and most importantly, they need water. Without all of this, we won't have much of a flower to look at. I found this to be pretty interesting because I found this quote right as I was thinking about all of this...

You have to water the flowers you want to grow. 


And while this may seem quite obvious, I think we can apply this to more than gardening...and to our lives. We can't just sit around and wait for great things to happen- we need to cultivate our land, plant the seed, and most importantly, water the seeds we want to see transformed. It takes time and patience and sometimes some experimenting, just as gardening does. Unfortunately, we don't come with a little paper tag that lists whether or not we like direct sunlight and a steady water supply....we need to figure that out for ourselves. But fortunately, we don't need to have a green thumb. So once we do figure things out, we need to be ready to help ourselves along the way, to do the things we know can help us reach our goals...basically, we need to water the "flowers" we want to grow. Even though it's still winter and we've got a lot more of this dreaded season left, go find your gardening gloves and watering pail, and start preparing your flowers for the spring bloom.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, January 7, 2010

BFF's



Hello Optimists,

One thing I love to do in my free time is look through old pictures. Luckily I have been on a bit of a break because of the holiday so I've had the chance to do just that, though I realize my vacation is quickly coming to a close. Anyway, I was looking through some photos today from when I was younger- birthday parties, baseball games, pool parties, high school dances....it was really great to relive some of those fun memories. It was also kind of weird for me because in some of the pictures, I was surrounded with those people that, at the time, I considered my best friends. And then I realized I haven't even spoken with some of those people in years. Well, I guess these things happen...people sometimes just go their separate ways. But, there are some people in those pictures that I haven't lost touch with.

This got me thinking about which of my "friends" are really my friends, not just acquaintances...my BFF's. Some I have known for my entire life, some for half of my life, and some, for just a few years now. But I have realized that while I can count all of these people on only one of my hands, the great memories we have shared together take up all of my fingers, toes and more. I think it's great for all of us to take a stroll down memory lane and think about all of the great times we've had throughout the years, and take note of the special people that have been there for all of them. Friends may come and go, but best friends are in our lives forever. Even if you're out of touch for a little while, you know that when you see each other again or finally catch up on the phone, you can pick up the conversation right where it left off.

Today's quote really put to words how I was feeling as I thought about so many special times in my life and the people that were there to share them with me....

A friend is someone with whom you are comfortable, to whom you are loyal, through whom you are blessed, and for whom you are grateful. -William Arthur Ward


This really is the greatest description of a best friend one could find, and I definitely feel this way about all of my best friends forever. Now it doesn't matter if you've only got one friend who fits this description...in cases like these sometimes quality is better than quantity. But whether you have only one of these friends or ten, always be grateful and appreciative of the special bond you share. So take a moment today to think about all of our best friends and give them a call or stop by to catch up...I bet it won't be long before you start reliving some of your greatest memories together.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Biggest Loser?



Hello Optimists,

Did you watch the premier of the new season of The Biggest Loser last night? Well, I did...I've always been a fan of the show and I think we can all learn a lot from it- whether we're 800 lbs. or 100 lbs. It's all about making a change in your lifestyle for the better; to be stronger, healthier, and more physically and mentally fit. It's kind of unfortunate, though, that the winner is crowned The Biggest Loser. I mean, I get it...the biggest loser of weight, but really, no one likes to be called a loser.

So this got me thinking about being a loser. And I really don't like it. I always hated losing games, bets, my keys, my marbles....it's all just no fun. Losing stinks! But what's worse than being a loser is being a sore loser. And you know, it's pretty hard not to be. I think we've got a natural inclination to envy those that have defeated us, somehow formulating years worth of anger against the person or group that came out on top, wishing they'd get their picture taken for the newspaper with some spinach in their teeth or something. But we really shouldn't be like this. We should be able to put our sore feelings under the rug, acknowledge our defeat, and let the winner be recognized for the accomplishment...but few of us are "man enough" to do that. Well today's quote reminded me how to act in the event that I do lose, which I am hoping I don't have to put into use very often. Nevertheless, here it is....

Always imitate the behavior of the winners when you lose. -George Meredith


Well, I wouldn't exactly imitate it, but you should be in good spirits. Recognize that you gave it your best shot and that the competition was fierce (after all, they did beat you, right?) and know that through the loss, you have definitely learned a few things and will be ready to come back stronger next time. So, even though being The Biggest Loser on TV is quite an accomplishment, I think I'll stick to trying to be the biggest winner....and if that doesn't work out, at least I'll know how to act.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Yo, Adrian!



Hello Optimists,

Having lived in Philadelphia for a few years now, I have done most of the "typical Philadelphia things". I have visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art many times, strolled through Independence Hall and visited the Liberty Bell, and have eaten more cheesesteaks and soft pretzels than one probably should. Now, there is much, much more to Philadelphia than that, and believe me, I hate it when people think that's all there is to do here. But to anyone living outside of the city, these are most commonly the things the City of Brotherly Love is known for.

I will acknowledge that these things have definitely earned their spots on the "Things to See in Philadelphia" list, namely the Art Museum. But, it's quite interesting to notice that this building has become an icon for more than just the art that is displayed inside. It seems that people are just as anxious to see two particular displays on the outside of the museum as they are to see the Picasso's and the Renoir's hanging on the walls. Of course, I am speaking about the Rocky statue at the base of the stairs and the bronze footprints at the top of the stairs that mark the spot where he triumphantly raised his hands in the air in the movie.

Now, this is my favorite part: After people get their picture taken next to the 10-foot tall statue, they immediately run up the 72 stairs to the top entrance (which are a killer!), turn around to face the city, and recreate the movie scene while they get their picture taken again. You can easily spot the locals with the "Pfff...tourists" look on their faces, and the hundreds of newbies who are fighting for a photo op in the same two-foot area. Either way, it's always fun to visit that spot as each time you gain a new appreciation for the icon that Rocky has become. Now, I will admit that while I am strongly against his use of double negatives while speaking and the saga of stories that makes up the collection (what are there about 10 now?!), I do really love the message behind it that even an underdog or an average person can become something great. Aside from "Yo, Adrian!" I think today's quote from the movie should be just as familiar with everyone. This comes from Rocky IV, and Rocky gives a great piece of advice...

Going one more round when you don't think you can- that's what makes all the difference in your life. 

Though he's speaking in boxing terms, this can be applied to all aspects of our lives- whether we're in the ring or not. Pushing that extra little bit when you think you should give up can make a world of difference in life. It's all about giving it that extra push, giving it 110%, and digging down to find the determination within yourself....doing something that you thought you couldn't even do. That's what life's about. So next time you're in Philly, run up those stairs with the theme song ringing in your ears, and join those other crazy tourists as you throw a few punches in the air. And no matter where you are, remember this quote...I think it can make you do some really great things.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, January 4, 2010

Flower Child



Hello Optimists,

I went to see Hair on Broadway this fall and couldn't help but be transported back to the 70's...the times of Woodstock, bell-bottom jeans, groovy avacado-colored appliances, and of course, the hippie protests against the war. This was a time to celebrate life, freedom, the opportunity to make your voice heard in the wake of change, and the illegal(?) use of marijuana. One of the main themes in the musical centered around the Vietnam war and its effect on the American people. This is still a very controversial topic today, and when I came across today's featured quote, it seemed like it would come right from the mouth of a Flower Child of the 70's....

War doesn't determine who's right. It determines who's left. 


And though I have no desire to go back in time to experience the hippie years, I will say that I love this quote. Besides the cute little play-on-words with the "right" and "left", it really does have a strong message behind it. (And you wonder why English is so difficult to learn...one word can have so many completely different meanings!) Anyway, war is a complicated thing that doesn't always determine who's right in a situation- all it does is eliminate those who cannot defeat their opponents, and leaves one side left standing. Now I'm not only talking about war as in WWII or Vietnam or whatever is even going on in the Middle East...this could be any type of "war", like a disagreement with your sister or that idiot who punched your friend in the face at the bar last night. It doesn't matter what the situation is, the end result of these wars won't always tell us who was in the wrong. So, choose your battles wisely. 


If you were a "Flower Child" and like to relive your Woodstock days, then you certainly know what we're talking about here. If you're like me and need to rely on Broadway revivals to take you "back to the day", that's ok too...just take a minute to think about today's quote, in or out of context, and remember the important message behind it, ya dig me?

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hellllooooo 2010!



Hello Optimists,

Happy New Year!! Well, we made it....it's 2010! Can you believe that it has already been a decade since the new millennium? Wow. Remember all of that hype about the world coming to an end in 2000? Wellll, that obviously didn't happen. Now there are new claims that 2010 will mark "the end" and others that say it is 2012. Now while this stuff really freaks me out, I'm not one to believe all of the hype. We can't be worried about something we can't even control, nor something that obviously cannot be accurately predicted. Ringing in the new year is all about celebrating the future...looking ahead to bigger and brighter happenings with a fresh start.

I came across today's quote about the new year and I thought it would be perfect for the first post of 2010.

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. -Bill Vaughn

This is very true. I hope you all raised your glasses last night to welcoming the new and exciting things that 2010 will bring, not to finding relief in the departure of 2009. So whether you waltzed into your house this morning in the same dress you wore last night or you had a nice relaxing evening at home, I hope you enjoyed your new year's eve celebrations. A lot has happened in these last ten years, and I hope this coming year marks the start of great things to come for the next decade. I wish you all happiness, health, and the will power to carry out your new year's resolutions past next week...

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist