Thursday, December 31, 2009

Be a Laughing Cow

Hello Optimists,

I've been having quite a few lazy days lately...but hey, I'm on vacation! Isn't that what I'm supposed to be doing? Wake up, eat some breakfast, watch some Regis and Kelly, read a bit, watch Ellen, read a few more chapters, shower? (hmm..maybe), eat lunch, go on Facebook.....ugh, being lazy is exhausting! Now, I will admit that my days are a bit more productive than I've made them out to be, but overall, I pretty much do a whole bunch of nothing. So am I just wasting away my days?

Well I've decided that the answer to that question is no because this is the one time where I am not "scheduled" to do anything in particular..I don't necessarily have to be somewhere at some time to meet with's just me. And I get to answer to myself. It's great actually. But I can't help but have that constant buzz in the back of my head, searching for something that I feel I should be doing. That constant reminder of "you haven't moved from the couch in three hours, there are things that need to be done!" I feel like I should just get in my car and drive around for a bit until I have subconsciously convinced myself that I have actually done something.

I found today's quote and it put my mind at ease because I realized that though I may not be doing much of anything, my days were not being completely wasted...

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. 

Well then, my days are far from wasteful. I think this is a great quote and something we should all keep in mind. It's important that while we concentrate and work hard on the important things in our life, we need to take a minute at some point each day.. and just laugh. It makes you (and others!) feel better and just totally lightens the mood. I guess that old saying of "Laughter is the best medicine" is actually true. Even Laughing Cow cheese (which is quite delicious might I say) is spreading the word with their "Have you laughed today?" slogan...ok, though they may be advertising for their product, they are on to something else there. If you go through each day in a serious and somber mood, too preoccupied to enjoy the day and the things you have in life, too nervous and under too much pressure to laugh, then I think it's time to sit down and reevaluate your life, and schedule an immediate happy hour with your friends. So while we all feel that there just aren't enough hours in the day, make sure you make it a point to squeeze in a few minutes for a good laugh.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Have We Met?

Hello Optimists,

It's amazing to think about how many people we have come in contact with throughout the years, and out of all of those people, the select few who have remained an integral part of our lives. You know, our friends, family, neighbors...and though we only see some of these acquaintances every so often, there are a few that play a very special role in our lives. Now I bet you all have at least one person, if not more, that immediately come to mind. You know, the people you know that you can always count on, those that will always be there by your side no matter what the circumstance, those that you would do anything for - these are the people we love. It doesn't necessarily have to be an "I love you", kiss kiss kind of can even be tough love. But as long as these people have a place in your heart, there's always a unique, loving bond.

I am lucky enough to have many people in my life that have a special place in my heart and I know that no matter what happens, whether we are separated for a long length of time or our lives take us in completely different directions, I will never ever forget them. I honestly think it would be impossible, even if I tried my hardest. I came across today's quote and it seemed to make a great analogy about this...

Trying to forget someone you love is like trying to remember someone you've never met.

This is so true. A person you love will always have a really special place in your life, and no matter how hard you may try to move on or erase the memories of the bond that was created, it just won't happen. Someone you love will never need a ridiculous "Hello My Name Is..." badge to wear because in your heart, you'll always know them. So think about all of the people that make it onto your "love list" and start working on building up the memories that you know will never be forgotten.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Big Shot

Hello Optimists,

Imagine this guy who has a great high-paying job, who drives a fancy car, has an apartment in NYC and a home in Florida, wears thousand dollar suits and has the casual, yet smug attitude that usually goes along with these things. He strides through the halls of the office like he owns the place, because well... he does. It seems like he's really doing well for himself.... so how'd he get to be such a big shot anyway? And where do I sign up?

It's pretty interesting to learn about how the "big deals" became the "big deals". Did you ever watch those biography specials on CNBC or MSNBC, or even the Forbes List on E!, that highlight the rise of some of today's most successful people? Some of course were lucky enough to be born into an already wealthy, business-minded family whose fortune would be handed down through lineage. Others, however, literally rose from nothing...just had enough drive and enough guts to really reach for the top- and they made it. So you mean to tell me these super successful people were once just a nobody, just an average person like me? Well, in fact, they were. At least they give us some hope.

This leads me to today's quote which I came across, quite ironically, as I was thinking about this very subject...

The difference between a big shot and a little shot is that a big shot's just a little shot that kept on shooting. -Zig Ziglar

This really allowed me to see that we all have it in us to be the "big shot". We just need to dig down deep enough to find the courage, the will, the determination, to keep on shooting. Like we always hear in Mark Twain's famous quote, it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. (And look at that, you got a two-for deal on today's post!) But anyway, I really like this quote, and I am definitely going to keep this stored upstairs for those times when I feel like I might not ever be joining the Big Boys- and I hope you will too.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, December 28, 2009

Gift Givers

Hello Optimists,

I hope Santa was good to you! There's something so magical about waking up to find presents under the tree, wrapped so nicely with ribbons and bows. It certainly is the quintessential picture of Christmas. Then we get to tear them open with so much gusto you'd think there was a million dollars inside each package. Although half the excitement lies in the moments just before we dive into the pile of presents, the act of opening them to see what's inside is quite exciting too. Maybe it's that we want to see if Santa really did give us what we wrote down in our letter to him, or whether someone actually paid attention to that ever-so-detailed Amazon Wish List we made. Or maybe it's the unexpected gift that wasn't necessarily on our "list", but couldn't have been more perfect.

It is nice to get something you've been picturing hanging in your closet since Thanksgiving or the one item whose too-high price you've been eyeing constantly online, but it's also nice to get a present that seems like it was made for you. And while receiving is so much fun, on the flip side, we all know that gift-giving can be quite strenuous. We all have that one friend or relative who is extremely hard to buy for... Do you think she'll catch on if I get her a gift card for the sixth year in a row? Gift-giving takes thought- it takes consideration of someone's personality, preferences, hobbies...the list goes on. No wonder the holiday season can be so stressful!

Ironically, in a perfectly perfect gift I received this Christmas, I came across today's featured quote and it really allowed me to see past the snowmen on the wrapping paper and the bow in the corner, and into the heart of the person who had selected it for me....

Love the giver more than the gifts. -Brigham Young

I thought this quote would be perfect for this time of year especially. While we may love the gifts we have received this year, we should love (even more!) the people that were so kind, thoughtful, and gracious to pick them out for us. That perfect gift isn't easy to come really does take a lot of work. So look through your pile of new gadgets and clothes and take a second to really appreciate how much someone thought about you while they were selecting that item to wrap up for you...and be thankful that there are people in your life who care so much about you.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Hello Optimists,

Merry Christmas! Ah, the holiday is finally upon us. There are so many things I think of around this time of year, so many memories and traditions that will forever have a place in my heart. One of the things I like to do to get into the "holiday spirit" is to watch Christmas know, the classics, like A Christmas Story, Elf, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and of course, it wouldn't be Christmas unless my dad watches It's a Wonderful Life. But there's one more in particular that I look forward to every year. Maybe it's because his rhymes and rhythms have been a part of my life since I was little...and probably a part of yours too. Of course I'm talking about Dr. Seuss- and today especially, the tale of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Not only are Dr. Seuss's stories fun to read, they also have a great message behind them. And I can guarantee that you will be seeing man more quotes from his books in the future. When the newest version of the Grinch came out, I instantly fell in love with it. Maybe it's the cute little Who's living in Whoville, or the wonderfully animated Jim Carrey that brought the character to life that draws me back year after year. But behind all of the costumes and whimsical sets, I love the story that Dr. Seuss brings to light about the true meaning of Christmas. So today, instead of just using one single line from the story, I thought I would include a bit more for your entertainment.

"And the Grinch with his Grinch feet- ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without bags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." -Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

So whether you're five years old or seventy-five years old, this story never loses its true message. In the tale of the holiday-hating Grinch, we learn that what brings him comfort and joy, if you will, is not the material nature of Christmas...not the gifts, bags, or ribbons, but the spirit, warmth, and love he feels from his neighbors and friends. This is where he finds the true meaning of Christmas. So today, celebrate the holiday with your friends and family with cookies and candy and gifts, but don't forget that even the Grinch was touched by what lies beneath all of the shiny paper and bows. I think it's time to take a minute to recognize who and what we have to be grateful for in our lives and be happy that we are  all here to celebrate together.

I will leave you today with one more little selection from the story to keep in mind this holiday season:
Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will be so long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart and hand to hand. 
 I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and holiday.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Mother of All Mothers

Hello Optimists,

I think there is one common thing among us: we all think about what other people are thinking about us. Whether or not we like to admit that is another story....even if you think you don't care, you do. Personally, I like to put on that front...that "I do what I want and I don't care who doesn't like it" attitude, but in reality, what people think always has an effect on me. I think it's just natural, just part of being a human being. Now while we can't go through our day doing things based solely on what we think other people are thinking about us, I believe sometimes it's good to have that in the back of your mind; it pushes us to do and be our best, because ya never know who's watching.

One thing I always think about is if I have had a positive impact on anyone. Whether it be someone I just met, a friend that I haven't seen in quite a while, or someone I see each and every day, I can't help but think about what they're thinking about after we've parted ways. Did they enjoy my company? Did I brighten their day or make them feel better about something? I always hope the answer to those questions is "Yes!!!"...but one can never know for sure. I think about these things because I once came across a great quote from an even greater person that really made an impact on me. It's from- as I like to call her- the "Mother of all Mothers", Mother Theresa. Religious or not, you know who she is and you know what a positive impact she has made on the world- so I hope you can appreciate this no matter what your beliefs....

Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier. -Mother Theresa

What a wonderful quote. And I think today, we need more people to be thinking like this. If we all would strive to make a positive difference in the lives of everyone we came in contact with, the world would truly be a better place. This means being a more pleasant person, trying to make a difference in other people's lives, making people smile, doing something unexpected for someone else.... That's what life's all about. Since it's the holiday season, it is a perfect time to remember this and to make promise to yourself to try to live out the words of The Mother- to let no one come to you without leaving better and happier. 

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Full Steam Ahead

Hello Optimists,

The Fountainhead. Anthem. Atlas Shrugged. Any of these names ring a bell? These are some of the most well known novels written by one of the most famed writers of all time, Ayn Rand. Though these books were written over half a century ago, they remain on the best sellers list and have sold over 25 million copies. Now, these aren't really books you can pick up for some light reading; most of them center around subjects of individualism, moral and political philosophies, and objectivity. But don't let that intimidate you. Thousands of people have found inspiration in her work- everyone from other writers to fashion designers. So I would say if you haven't read anything by this acclaimed author, take a trip to Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy.

Anyway, I bring her to attention because today's quote came directly from her lips. It's kind of a "no fuss" way at approaching life...a way of setting your priorities straight and keeping a plan in mind. So, without any further ado, here is today's featured quote:

Life must be a straight line of motion from goal to further goal. -Ayn Rand

I really like this one. And she really knows a thing or two about setting goals....look how successful she has become- even after her death. I like this quote because I think a lot of times we get easily caught up in what's going on around us, with things we really don't need to be concerned with. This reminds us that we need to travel- full steam ahead- toward the things we want to achieve in life. There's no time for nonsense, no time for dedicating only 50% of ourselves to something. Life is just too damn short.

It's important that we set goals for ourselves, whether they be for tomorrow or for ten years down the road. What's critical is that we have something to direct us to where we need to be. Something to "keep our eye on the ball", so we never lose sight of what we want to accomplish. Time goes by very quickly, sometimes it actually scares me, and we are all fighting against it. Though we may not fulfill all of our goals or dreams, at least we know we were on the way. There's nothing worse than looking back and not knowing how we got to where we are and regretting the fact that we weren't able to achieve what we wanted from life. So take some time today to reassess where you've been, where you are now, and where you're going. Get your ducks in a row and move forward.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It All Starts Upstairs

Hello Optimists,

Sometimes I think about where life is going to take me- and if I have the power to change that or if my course of action is already planned out. Do things like our hometown, class status, college education, or upbringing have an effect on where we end up in life...or do we have the power to change where we're headed at any time? It's crazy because we define ourselves - "who we are"-  in terms of our profession, our alma mater, or sometimes even our family name. But behind all of that stuff, who are we really?

I know it seems a little crazy, but I often think about the little things that are a part of my life now that may be making an impact on the direction of my future, even if I am unaware of it at the moment. What is it exactly that makes me "me", and how easy is it to change what defines me? When I read today's quote, it reminded me that I am not who I am because of the university I attend, or the profession that will be under my name on a business card, or the kind of car I drive....

You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind. -Zig Ziglar

So after reading this I realized that we are able to change our paths at any time, we just need to change our way of thinking. We can change what we are not by getting a new job title or a new wardrobe (though I'm always up for some shopping!), but by changing the way we think and consequently, the way we act. If you aren't happy with where you are in life, or who you've made yourself out to be, it is possible to change...but you first need to start with changing your thoughts. Being an optimist, I find that making the choice to think positively helps me find the direction in which I want to head. I don't know if that'll work for you, but I think it's worth a shot...but remember that it all starts upstairs.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, December 21, 2009

Give It A Little "Umph"

Hello Optimists,

I am sure you have all heard the old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again". I know I have heard that probably a thousand times...and I like to believe that I live by that statement. At least I try toanyway. But how many tries are we willing to give before we finally succeed? There must be some point in which our tries are no longer helpful, a point where we just need to face the facts and move on, right? We've all been there.

But I find that when I finally do move on, all I can think about is what I could have done the first, second, or third time around to make it right. Was there something that could have been easily fixed that would have allowed me reach my goal? Was there someone that was holding me back? Was it I know it's probably not a very good way of dealing with "failure", but I just can't help but think about the possibility of one little, minute detail that could have changed my whole course of action. I know for sure I was trying, but was I trying hard enough? When I found today's quote, it reminded me that success is always at our fingertips, and though we may be thinking we are giving it our best shot, sometimes it just takes a little bit more to make it to where we'd like to be...

The difference between try and triumph is a little umph. 

After I read it over a few times, I realized that this is absolutely true. Everyone is able to give things a try, and if it doesn't work out as planned, most are perfectly ok with that and move on. If you're one of these people, don't feel so's probably about 99% of us. That other 1%, however, aren't happy with just giving it a whirl, and give that extra little something...and what they get is success. There is only a small difference between an attempt at victory and actual just takes a little umph. So are you willing to throw in that little extra kick, to push just a little bit harder to reach your goals? I think you are...I think we all are. Let's be part of that 1%.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, December 18, 2009

What "Grinds My Gears"

Hello Optimists,

Any fans of Family Guy out there? I know I am- that show never ceases to amaze me. Honestly, I don't even know how the creators are allowed to have the characters say half of the things that air on that show, but it's just hysterical. The crude humor and inappropriate jokes that are just wrong hit us in an unexpected way and squeeze a laugh out of the most conservative of viewers. Though Stewie is hands down my favorite character, one of my favorite episodes features Peter and his news-cast segment of "What Really Grinds My Gears" where he rants about all of the things that annoy him. The things he picks to include in his segment are pretty ridiculous and random...which pretty much sums up the whole plot of the show. But everyone must have a different take on what "grinds their gears"...and that got me thinking about what grinds mine.

I don't know about you, but one thing that really grinds my gears is arrogance. A lot of people give arrogance a right of passage in exchange for confidence..which is definitely not right. Arrogance is defined as: having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities. Confidence is defined as: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one's appreciation of one's abilities or qualities. See? Very different, yet apparently easily confused. People who are good at what they do like to display that fact. And while there's nothing wrong with acknowledging your accomplishments, which we all definitely should, we walk a fine line between showing pride in our work and displaying a pompous and haughty attitude. Finding the balance between these two elements is key, and when I came across today's quote, it seemed to find that balance perfectly.

Always hold your head up, but be careful to keep your nose at a friendly level. -Max L. Forman

This is quite possibly the best explanation I could have found. It's a good thing to exude confidence; employers pick up on it, teachers like it, friends admire it. But walking around with your nose in the air immediately changes that admiration to distaste. This only makes someone appear as condescending and superior to everyone around them, even if this is not the case. And no one wants to be friends with a person like this. So please, don't grind my gears, and keep this quote in mind...

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Put Away the Purell

Hello Optimists,

One thing I hate about the winter (almost a little more than the cold) is that it's flu season. And it's not enough that we just have the "regular" flu to worry about, but now the H1N1 virus is spreading like wildfire. I have really become a germaphobe....Howie Mandel style. Really, I'm not kidding around. Clorox wipes have become my new best friend, I would rather pass out that to breathe in someone's "sneeze air",  and touching door knobs is absolutely out of the question. Are you with me on this one, or am I taking it a bit too far? Well, regardless, I am still holding off on handshakes for a while.

But this whole germ thing got me thinking about what we're exposed to everyday. How many millions and millions of bacteria and germs do I come in contact with- even when I'm trying to avoid them? Just the thought of it really freaks me out. But sometimes you just can't stay no wonder these viruses are spreading so rapidly. Why, instead of swine flu, can we not catch some good things, like energy, or smiles, or joy? They say laughter is contagious, so why not all other good feelings and emotions? I think that they are, in fact. They're just a little harder to contract because we've unfortunately built up strong immunities to them. When I came across today's quote, it seemed to fit in perfectly with the thoughts streaming through my head...

Attitude is contagious. Make sure yours is worth catching. 

So if these good feelings and emotions were contagious, whose would you want to catch? Think about it: instead of staying away from those that were "suffering" from the common cold, we'd be hanging around with them and not sanitizing our hard surfaces every five minutes. It would be kind of nice. Besides laughter, I think that attitude is definitely contagious. Think about how many times your mood has been altered by someone else's, whether it was in a good way or a bad way. See? It's true..we feed off of other people's energy. So make sure that you're the one person that everyone knows will have a positive attitude, and you'll see that they'll be putting their Purell back in the linen closet. Keep this quote in mind as you go through your day and be mindful of how many people may be catching your attitude. I hope mine is worth catching...but until I can really judge how others will affect me, I think I'll stick to the fist bump.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Good Grief

Hello Optimists,

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the never ending supply of Christmas movies on TV. After a long drive home last night, I made it just in time to watch a classic with my mom: A Charlie Brown Christmas. Even though we watch it every year and know the lines by heart, we can't help but to make an event of it....and I bet you can relate- you know you love Lucy's crazy antics, Linus' ever-present blanket, and that oh-so-cute blockhead, Charlie Brown. These stories have really become a cultural icon- as this Christmas special has been playing since 1965 and you can buy a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" at Urban Outfitters for $15! I've always loved the cute little characters and the catchy melodies playing in the background, but good grief, I noticed last night that you learn a lot more than you realize from Charlie Brown!

I bet this is why Charles Schultz's stories have endured the test of time and continue to be so popular with kids and adults too. So this got me thinking about all the great things we have learned from this little bald man, and I came across this quote that I thought was especially insightful...

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. -Charlie Brown

Now, I will be the first to admit that I used to love the text books that had the answers listed in the back. Homework done in half the time? How convenient! But when I stop to think about it, having the answers displayed in front of me didn't really help me out at all. Every time I had a bit of trouble arriving at an answer, a quick flip to the back of the text put all of my worries at ease. There, after the glossary, was the answer in black and white....just like that. Sooo what exactly did that do for me? Well, I thought it didn't really matter. What did matter was that when the teacher came around to check our work, mine was complete. And correct.  Nice! But then when it came time for a test, I still needed to learn how to do all of those problems I ended up doing more work trying to teach myself right before the exam than if I had just tried to work it out for homework. What was my 4th grade self thinking?!

So I guess it's a good thing that our book of life has no answers in the back. And I think Charlie Brown was trying to tell us that taking the easy way out doesn't always make it easier for us. Knowing the end result is of no use if we don't know how to get there. It's up to us to choose what we need to do right now. We need to do the best we can to get to the place we want to be in the future...but getting there isn't as easy as we may want it to be. So though we may be tempted to sneek a peek in the back just to catch a glimpse- let me just get an idea, just see if I'm on the right track- we need to realize that it won't do us much good. So take it from Charlie Brown, finding our answer to life takes more than just flipping to the back of the book.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Lesson in Geometry

Hello Optimists,

It's been a while since I have studied math. I used to hate it, but then I guess once I figured some things out, I really started to like it. In high school I took the hardest math and physics classes offered and did pretty well. Then in college, I finished my two required semesters, used it a bit in science courses, and that was it. So I was thinking back on all of the fun times in math class that I really no longer need to worry about, and I wondered, is there anything that I studied so hard for that I can to use now?

I mean, where in my everyday life will I need to know how to find the derivative of an equation or the cosine of -1? I guess maybe geometry could be useful at some point....where exactly I don't really know. You know geometry, the fun stuff: finding the areas of all those shapes and distances of lines and curves. Ok, maybe you would disagree on the "fun" part. Hope I haven't lost you. But speaking of geometry, the only thing I really remember about that wonderful course is the Pythagorean Theorem, which will forever be ingrained in my brain. I was reminded of all of these fond memories when I came across today's quote...I wish there was some extra room in the lesson plans to teach this:

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight. 

That could definitely fit into a geometry class, right? Guaranteed it is one lesson (other than the pythagorean theorem) that I would have remembered and can actually use in life. And I think it's a very important one. Everyday we get hundreds of opportunities to smile, but do we take them? How many times has your bad day been turned around when you see someone smile, or when someone makes you smile? It's a sign of happiness, of joy, surprise and comfort- things we all like to feel. A simple smile just has a way of making things better, it just really straightens things out. It's the reason I sign all of my posts the way I do, just a subtle reminder of the importance of such a small gesture.

Ok, so I don't foresee this being added to the curriculum any time soon, especially in college math courses. I can just picture the faces of my professors if I were to propose this lesson...and let me tell you, it would probably not be a smile. Nonetheless, it is a lesson that we can all pencil into our own calendars and practice with our friends. It's really easy- no calculators required (phew!). Now that should give you something to be happy about! So, go ahead, give it a try...

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Ideal Job

Hello Optimists,

I've been thinking lately about the "perfect" job...which to some, that phrase might seem like an oxymoron. I've probably read through a million (ok, maybe not a million) job descriptions lately, and in each one, there was at least one thing that made me put an X through that listing.
 #1. "Competitive starting salary" Check. "Relocation assistance may be available" Check. "Expected weekly travel: at least 75%" Ugh, X! 
#2. "On-site parking" Check. "Opportunity for quick advancement" Check. "Must be available for all weekends and evenings" Umm, no. X!

So this got me thinking: Am I being too picky? What would be the perfect job description? What would make me send in my resume without any second thought? By chance, I came across today's quote as I was still thinking about the answer to these questions. Though technically this isn't a real job, the description of this position offered the perfect combination of benefits and future plans that made me want this title on my business card.

Optimists enrich the present, enhance the future, challenge the improbable and attain the impossible.
 -William Arthur Ward

Ok, so I don't think I'll find anywhere to send in my resume for the new "Optimist" opening, but isn't this just the best description ever? Who wouldn't want to be able to do all of those things? All I know is that if any job description read like this, we'd all be giving our employer our 2 weeks notice. But the best part about this is that anyone can qualify, everyone has access to what it takes to be an optimist, and it's definitely always in demand. It doesn't matter what school you went to or whether or not you have 5+ years experience in the field, we can all apply. It's all a state of mindSo I hope that you realize what great benefits the "occupation" of optimist offers, and that you take advantage of your ability to develop your skills. Read through the listing again, and think about how much greater your life will be...and you won't even have to sit through an interview.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lady Luck

Hello Optimists,

Don't you just love it when Lady Luck is on your side? I know I do, and lately, she's been around quite often. I have been really busy with a lot of different things and each of them has turned out better than I could have even imagined. So, since it seems that I have been, as some people would call it, lucky, I think I should go out and buy a lottery ticket or two...or three. Why not?

But is it really just pure luck that things have been really going well for me? Maybe it's some kind of higher power that decided to humor me for a bit, or maybe Santa accidentally sat on one of my toys and is trying to make it up to me. Whatever it is, I like it. I think I can really rock this "luck" thing.

But, wait a minute...maybe it's not just by chance that things are going well. Maybe I had something to do with it. I have been really dedicated to everything that's been going on, and I've worked my butt off trying to make things the best they could possibly be. Maybe I am Lady Luck.

This realization came to me when I read today's quote...

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. -Thomas Jefferson

So maybe we should attribute our luck to no other person than ourselves. If you think about it, most things happen because we worked hard enough to make them a reality. And if it seems like a great thing popped up out of nowhere, somewhere along the line, you did something to make it happen. It's just disguised as a surprise because...well, it's just more fun that way. Maybe we're all holding a winning lottery ticket, but just don't work hard enough to get ourselves to the gas station to cash it in. Maybe in order to have better luck, we need to dig deeper into our hearts to see what lies inside.

So give it a try today and see if you can really produce your own luck. I'm just going to give it a guess here, but I think you'll find that this is quite possible. Let me know how it works out...

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, December 10, 2009

If You Want to Be You, Be You

Hello Optimists,

It's often said that imitation is the best form of flattery...which I guess is true. It is good to have someone to look up to, to emulate, to serve as a role model for your life, but where is the line drawn between being an admirer and being a pure imitation of someone? We see this imitation all the time. E! has shows on TV that feature the new hot items that celebs are using that allow us to go out and buy them too, so we can be just like them. Why do you think big companies like Nike and Gatorade use professional athletes and celebrities to endorse their products? So consumers will buy them in hopes to be just like them.

Like I said before, it is good to have someone to look up to. But why can't we be our own role model? Why can't we decide to be completely unique, to do something totally different? Why can't we choose Gatorade because we like the taste, not because LaBron James drinks it in a commercial? When I read today's quote, it inspired me to toss aside all of the ideas in my head about who I should be like and concentrate on coming into my own.

Every human being is intended to have a character of his own; to be what no others are, and to do what no other can do. -William Ellery Channing

This really hits the nail on the head. Every single human being has this opportunity, but many choose not to embrace it. How great is it when people step out of the box and do something new! That person has redefined their character as completely their own, and that's why they can live their life to the fullest and why they're so unique. I think we should all strive to set new bounds for ourselves and to have a character of our own. So try it today...don't pay attention to what others are doing, but pay attention to what is true to you. If you want to be you, be you...and no one else.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Listen to the Silence

Hello Optimists,

Have you ever been listening to someone talk only to realize that, after almost an hour of this chatter, that they haven't really said anything? I see this all too often...people just talk to talk. I, on the other hand, consider myself to be a person of few words. I don't just talk to fill the void because I don't find anything wrong with silence. Sometimes it's actually quite refreshing. So, of course, I'm known as "the quiet one" or "very shy"...whatever. That's not really true, but it's not worth it to argue the point. Maybe it's just how I was raised or just my personality, but filling the air with words just for the sake of filling the air with words just doesn't do it for me. If I have something to say or something to contribute to a conversation, I'll share it. And if not...well then, I won't say anything. I've been told that I don't say much- but that when I do, it's either really important or really funny. And ya know, I kind of like it that way.

I guess people just feel like they need to say something, all the time. It's like it's the worst thing in the world if there's a lull in conversation, it's that "awkward silence" people just can't get over. I will admit that real "awkward silence" is sometimes a bit unnerving, but I think we'd all be surprised if we took a minute to stop talking about nothing and just listen to what the silence is telling us. We need to stop making noise and listen to what's going on around us. We live in an overly-articulated, highly verbalized world, where it's seemingly unnatural to just take in what's... well, natural.

Today's quotes is one of my ultimate favorites simply because it reminds us that if we take a step back once in a while, take a deep breath, and just be, we might be surprised to notice how wonderful it really is.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.

I try to do this every day, and I think you should too. We can't avoid the noise and chaos of the events in our life, but we can always find a minute to step back from them and take in the silence. It's amazing how much more you'll hear when you listen to nothing - and even if you find that silence for just a minute, I hope it brings you peace.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Get a Good Start

Hello Optimists,

I was watching TV today and saw some previews for a bunch of reality shows that seem like they're going to be completely ridiculous. What a surprise. Most of the people on these shows are just famous for being famous. Wait, what? I know, it doesn't make much sense. Now, I will admit that I am a fan of some of these shows (don't judge me) but most of them are just a little too much for me. Anyway, this got me thinking about what it takes to be "famous". Can it be possible for anyone to become a household name, or do you already need a household name to get people's attention?

I think that it certainly helps if you already have a well-known name to get your foot in the door. But it certainly isn't impossible for the rest of us out there to do the same. We just need a good start. A real good start. Making something from nothing is highly revered, and let's face it, it also makes a much better E! True Hollywood Story. But I digress....

I'm not just talking about being famous in Hollywood though, I'm talking just making a name for yourself for something great. Are you well known on your street for making the best apple pies? Famous! Are you the author of the new book on the New York Times best seller list? Famous! Are you the friend that everyone knows they can count on? Famous! See, it's easier than you thought. You don't have to be famous before you start making the best apple pies on the street, but you will be after everyone tastes how delicious they are. And what did it take to make that one perfect pie? Probably about ten other trials of the recipe and a bit of determination...but there's your start. When I read today's quote, it finally sunk in that it is possible for anyone to be a great person, to be "famous", but it won't come easy.

You don't have to be great to get started, but you have to get started to be great. -Les Brown

So we all have it in us to be someone or something great, we just need to commit to doing something and get a good start. It's all about taking that first step forward in the new direction we want to head and making it happen. It's ok if your last name isn't've still got the chance to do whatever you want and be great- you just need to get yourself a start.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's All Up to You

Hello Optimists,

I often think about what it is I am destined to do. Is there just one ultimate thing in life that I am meant to achieve, or could there be many things? How will I know when I've achieved whatever "it" is? These questions really boggle my how do we really know what we're meant to do? What is our destiny?

Well, I certainly can't answer that...actually, none of us probably could. But it's definitely something to think about. I came across today's quote and it put my mind at ease as it started to help me realize that we have the power to choose our own path in life....

Destiny is not a matter of change, it is a matter of choice; it is not something to be waited for, it is something to be achieved. - William Jennings Bryan

Destiny is a matter of choice, and we have the power to build the life we want for ourselves. We can't just throw our hands in the air and let life pass us by, waiting around for something to happen. We make a lot of decisions every day and each one of them, no matter how big or small, has an effect on our lives. It's all about setting your sights on something you want to happen...and then doing all that you can to make it happen. So remember that what you choose to do today can have an impact on your tomorrow. It's all up to you to achieve your destiny.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, December 4, 2009

"You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid"

Hello Optimists,

'Tis the season for the question "What do you want for Christmas?" and I think I'm past the point of response of "My two front teeth" and I know better than to ask for a BB gun, because as everyone knows, "You'll shoot your eye out, kid". I'm even past the point of wanting a million toys and dolls and fact, my list has really dwindled. That's not to say I've lost my Christmas spirit. I haven't, not at all. I am just really getting to the point of enjoying the holidays for other reasons than what lies beneath our Christmas tree. I really do appreciate being with my friends and family, and I have found that the joy of the season really comes from these special moments.

But I don't think there's anyone out there who doesn't like getting gifts. Come on now, you know you love it. There's just something great about tearing through that paper and ripping open the box to find a special little gift someone was thoughtful enough to get you. But, in order for it to be the perfect gift, it has to have some meaning behind it. For me, the perfect gift to give is..(drumroll, please)... a book. Okayyyyy, so maybe that makes me sound like huge dork, but stay with me here.

Think about it: there are millions of books out there and every one can be a perfect gift for someone you love. It doesn't matter the person's interest, beliefs, or hobbies...there's a book out there for everyone. It's an easy way to for you to spread love, fun stories, advice, or spark a new interest in your friends- but no matter what it does, it represents your special relationship with that person and is a gift that has real meaning. Books are now pretty much the only things on my "list" to give or to get and Amazon has become my new best friend. Today's quote comes from one of my favorite books, Eat Pray Love:

You were given life. It is your duty, and also your entitlement as a human being, to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight. 

And that's just one line. Imagine how good the whole book is! It should be our goal everyday to find something beautiful within life, and believe me, we are given the opportunity to do just that probably a hundred times a day. It could be anything that makes you smile, makes others smile, or that just makes you feel alive. It is our job to acknowledge these great things in life and stop taking things for granted. This is such a great quote from an incredibly great book- a book that really inspired me to dig to find something deeper in life. Now this is a book to give someone (and to put on your list too!). I've put the Amazon listing of some of my favorites to share with you... so as you're writing to Santa, be sure to include some of those titles. And if your letter is already en-route to the North Pole, they make a great "To: Me, From: Me" gift too, I promise.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Trust Me, I'm (Not) A Doctor

Hello Optimists,

I know very few people who don't like it. I know very many people who love it. People go to it if they're stressed, if they're sad, if they're happy, or sometimes, if they just need a boost. It's said to be good for the heart, and according to me, good for the tummy! So what am I talking about? Chocolate, of course!!

Now, I could probably write for days on this topic- it is very near and dear to my heart. I love it in any shape or form, covered with stuff or coating another wonderful treat. And what luck that I live pretty close to Hershey, PA...Hellooooo Chocolate World! Can't get any better than that! I honestly dream about that place. It's really a shame that chocolate had gotten such a bad wrap as being an 'unhealthy' food, but recently it's been proven that dark chocolate is good for the heart. What fantastic news!

So, of course, this got me thinking more about it. Good for the heart, huh? I better stock up then. As I was taking my daily "medicine" today, a.k.a. a piece of Dove Chocolate, I quickly unwrapped my little treat eager to read the message inside on the wrapper. This part is almost as good as the chocolate itself. Almost. And when I read my message, a big smile appeared on my face, and only half of it was because the chocolate tasted so good. The other half was because the little message inside was so inspiring and it gave me the boost I needed in my day. It was just perfect...

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. 

Well, thank you, Dove. This is such a great little phrase that is sure to inspire all who read it. And it's absolutely true! We must learn to celebrate everything in our lives, no matter how big or small. These little things that are acknowledged each day build up into something great- a feeling of fulfillment and pride. Think about it: the more we can think positively, the more we can take pride in what we're doing, and the more reason to celebrate our accomplishments! So trust me, I'm (not) a doctor, but I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic, and I think in this instance, that position holds some credibility. Go out and buy yourself a heart healthy bag of Dove chocolates, and if you feel guilty about eating all of them, just remind yourself of all the great little messages that made your day.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fasten Your Thinking Cap

Hello Optimists,

William Arthur Ward may not be a name you are very familiar with. However, this man is one of America's most quoted and inspirational writers of all time. He headed a column called Pertinent Proverbs that was widely successful and has published over 100 articles and poems in magazines and journals. In doing some research, I have gathered quite a bit of his quotes, so you'll probably be reading more about this guy in the future.

I thought today I would share one of my favorites with you. I know when I read it it gave me a little jump start to my day, so I am hoping it does the same for you.

"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it."

It's like a version of that saying "You can be whatever you want to be", which at one point, I found very irritating. I mean, sometimes you just can't be whatever you want to be, right? That is just wishful thinking. Well, I've changed my thinking since then, and now I know that this is really possible. You can be whatever you want. Nothing is impossible...if there is something you want to be or something you want to do, that goal absolutely attainable. You just need to do it. It may take some work, but the great thing about life is that nothing is out of reach. There's really only one thing that can be holding you back...and that's yourself.

Today's quote is a way of thinking that takes a while to believe in. But it's up to you to make the switch and it starts with positive thinking. Whatever it is that comes into your mind, you can do exactly that in your real life! So, as my kindergarten teacher used to say, "get your thinking caps on" and start doing the things you only thought possible in your dreams.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimists

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Let's Do The Time Warp Again

Hello Optimists,

This morning I turned the last page in my calendar to December and I couldn't help but wonder where the last four months have gone. The last thing I remember, the summer season was just ending...and now I'm counting down to Christmas?! Well, I guess I have been a little busy, but still, that doesn't mean I should feel like I was thrown into a time warp.

Anyway, this got me thinking about how much we get wrapped up into things. I often find myself running from one event to another without even taking a moment to stop and breathe. Then before I know it, I'm diving into bed, ready to start the rat race again in the morning. I like keeping busy, but sometimes it's a little too much and I get lost in a whirlwind that gives me no chance to really take in the  present....does this ever happen to you? Well, I hope I'm not the only one. I found today's quote and it reminded me that we spend so much time thinking about what we need to do ten minutes from now and even ten minutes from then that we don't realize what we're even doing.

Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. 

So while we're so wrapped up in our thoughts and to-do lists, we neglect to consider the present time. We work so hard to plan for the future- and then when the future comes, we are too busy with our next set of plans to even enjoy what we have prepared for today. So today, while you run around thinking about all the things you have to plan for the next few days, take a minute to relax and think about what you have accomplished for today.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, November 30, 2009

Meet Me in The Poop Deck

Hello Optimists,

How great would it be to just cruise right through life- no worries, no decisions, no "bumps in the road"...just a nice, easy, care-free life. Sounds pretty good, huh? I often think about what it would be like if my life were like that. But I can't really see how that would even be possible for not only my life, but for anyone's. I mean, no matter how great someone "has it", it's guaranteed they still face a lot of hard decisions and have a lot of obstacles to overcome.

I am a strong proponent of the "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger" attitude and I think we should all try to think this way when we're faced with some pretty tough times. This way of thinking is, for one thing, a really optimistic point of view and immediately puts our minds on a positive track. Second, it kind of allows us to acknowledge the fact that difficulties will come our way, but we can and will come out a better person for facing it head on. The idea of that care-free life we all think would be great is made perfectly invalid with today's quote:

Smooth seas do not make for a skillful sailor.  -African Proverb

So true! We are all going to face a lot of rough seas in our life and those storms are what allow us to become better, stronger, more skilled people. What can we learn from a life of smooth seas? Not too much. But facing some rough waters, though they are hard to get through (and sometimes make us sea sick) they release us back into the calm waters a better person than before. Our life experiences and trying times are the things that help further define ourselves and our meaning in life. So while we may not want to face an impossible decision or a really rough time, try to remember today's message and be confident that you can only come out of the situation better than you entered. Grab your rain boots and meet me in the poop deck...we have to be on the look out for today's storm.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, November 27, 2009

How Do You Measure Up?

Hello Optimists,

We often measure the "greatness" of a person by things like their profession, the car they drive, the size of their house, where they go on vacation....all of these factors are an big part in determining someone's status. And these things can be quite important to us. I don't think anyone would terribly mind being seen driving a BMW or Lexus around town or coming in to work each day with a brand new suit. I mean, I'd like that..why not? But what do these things actually say about a person's life? Well, not much, really. Sure- it can be a representation of how hard they've worked at their job, the title under their name on the company business card, or how much money they've inherited from their rich relatives. But not in any way do these factors tell us what kind of character this person has, what respect they carry for their peers, or what kind of personality they have.

That's why we sometimes need to look past the outside shell of a person and take a moment to look inside to a place where we can find the true person. Of course, there are a lot of people who are great on the inside and on the outside, and if you know someone like that, you should be very happy to have them in your life. Some however, think it is enough for the outside shell to create an image for their whole life, which is where we need to be careful in determining the true characteristics of a person.

Today's quote perfectly sums up the point I am trying to get across.

The true measure of a man is how well he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. 
-Samuel Johnson

This is probably the best way to measure someone's true character. All too often people allow themselves to only treat people with respect if that person can be of some help to them in the future. This really isn't the best way to be. We need to realize that our character is determined in many ways- including the way we treat every person that we come in contact with. So are you willing to do a little favor for someone today if you may never see them again in your life? Or will you pass them by, thinking that they're crazy to think you'd waste your time on a stranger?

It's just something to think about...something to help us remember how to be a better person.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Always Give Thanks

Hello Optimists,

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all enjoying the holiday! I bet you're all gearing up for the big turkey reveal, ready to dive into that pumpkin pie, feel full enough to last you until next week, and watch some football. I know that's usually how my Thanksgiving goes.

It seems that we've strayed a little from the original point of Thanksgiving. Sure, a big feast kicked off the holiday back in 1621, and it still does today, but I think the meaning behind it has gotten lost somewhere in the past 400 years. That's a pretty long time, so I guess it's easy to do. But this is a really important holiday who's meaning unfortunately gets overshadowed year after year by rather insignificant things. Most people still take the time to sit around the dinner table and talk about what they're thankful for, which is great!, but I think we should be talking about this not only at Thanksgiving, but every day.

I thought today I would feature a quote that reminds us just how important giving thanks is. It doesn't matter whether it's given for a small favor or a big help, to a stranger or to a member of your family, gratitude is something that needs to be expressed.

"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." -William Arthur Ward 

I couldn't have said it better myself! Expressing your gratitude is something that is always appreciated, always makes another person feel good, and can never be over-done. We need to express our gratitude for even the smallest things in life and be appreciative of not only everything we have, but everyone who has helped us get to where we are. So while I think it is great that we have a whole day set aside for the purpose of giving thanks, I think we need to make an effort to celebrate and share the things we are thankful for each and every day.

So today, enjoy your turkey and pie with family and friends, and make a promise to express your gratitude not only this one time a year, but every day!

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Know-it-All

Hello Optimists,

Have you ever been teased for being a "know-it-all"? Or, possibly even worse,  have you ever been the teaser? Well, regardless of which category you fall into, you know exactly what I'm talking about. I guess there is a difference between thinking you're a know-it-all and actually knowing it all, of which the latter is much more appealing. Anyway, I was thinking today about people who might actually be a true know-it-all. And while this is obviously just my opinion, one person quickly came to mind. It might just be because I have a collection of his quotes-which are some of my ultimate favorites- that seem to explain life in a whole new way, inspiring those who read his words to be a better person in the world.

The person I thought of was Ghandi. Now, religious affiliations aside, you have to admit that he was a great man. He set the example of what he wanted others to do, he started movements for freedom and civil rights, he devoted his life to speaking the truth and helping others to do the same....and the list goes on. He made a huge impact not only on his nation, but on the world. Now whether or not he actually "knew it all" is questionable and up for debate, but we have to acknowledge the profound positive impact he had on the world.

I picked today's quote because I thought it was perfect for teaching us to live to our fullest potential. The words that Ghandi spoke are truly inspirational, and I am sure this is just one of his many quotes I will feature. So let's take a second to soak in one of his great quotes....

"Live as if you die tomorrow. Learn as if you live forever." -Ghandi

Just reading it makes you feel alive, doesn't it? Not to mention that it's really great advice. Live as if you die tomorrow gives us the courage to appreciate what life has to offer, leaving nothing taken for granted. We have to live each day to the fullest, leaving no room for regret. Learn as if you live forever gives us the motivation to soak up all we can and take pride in building our knowledge of the world around us. It is never too late to learn something new and we need to remember to never give up the opportunity to move out of our comfort zone in order to achieve great things.

Now this doesn't mean to schedule a skydiving appointment and buy a new edition of encyclopedias for some light reading all before midnight. But what it does mean is to enjoy life each day and learn something from your experiences. I think Ghandi's life serves as a pretty good example of this, and while some of his demonstrations we quite extreme, we can apply his words to our own lives and situations. His words are truly inspiring and I hope you can appreciate them as much as I do.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I'm No Philosopher

Hello Optimists,

I've studied a bit of philosophy, just a bit, and it really opened my eyes to a lot of things I had never considered before. It also gave me a lot of headaches. But I find that philosophy is not something to be taken lightly as it takes quite a while for your brain to wrap around some of the common beliefs it challenges. One thing that I did learn about, sans the headache, was existential anxiety. Believe me, it sounds much more complicated than it really is. (But if you want to sound smart at a party, definitely bring it up. You can cooly sip your cosmo and ask, "So what are your thoughts about existential anxiety?") Anyway, it's grounded on the belief of free will- that we are free to do what we choose however we choose to do it. Basically, the theory behind existential philosophy is that we realize that we really don't have to do any one thing, it is up to us to do whatever we want. This realization makes us really nervous because it's up to us to make every decision in life without being able to blame anyone but ourselves. If we live with one idea of what should be done and accomplished we will live with a constant anxiety of screwing it up.

One thing we know is that we can't live with anxiety. It's just not healthy. And this goes for existential anxiety too. We can't be living our life stressing out about, our life. It's just too much to handle, and this will give you a headache too.

When I came across today's quote, it reminded me of the lesson I learned while studying philosophy.

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one." -Elbert Hubbard

We're always worried about making a mistake no matter what the situation. It's good to be conscious of our decisions, but not to the point where we develop a complex over it. We have got to step out of that state of worry and into the state of positivity. Constantly fearing you will make a mistake can only assure you do things in the absolute safest way possible. And like I've already told you, I'm definitely no philosopher, but in my mind, safest is not always best. We can't let our mind be filled with thoughts of fear- we just need to concentrate on being and doing the best we can be. So today, I hope you feel a bit smarter after learning some philosophy, but most of all, I hope you don't make the mistake of thinking about mistakes.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, November 23, 2009

You've Got Some 'Splaining To Do

Hello Optimists,

I caught an episode of "I Love Lucy" recently and remembered how much I really do love Lucy. I don't think there is anyone out there who hasn't seen an episode or who can't resist watching a few minutes of the show as they flip through the channels. There's just something about that show that pulls us all in. An outrageously funny cast, the simple television humor of the 50's, and the absurd situations Lucy always found herself in continue to make people around the world laugh...and it's the hardy belly laugh too.

Remember when Ethel and Lucy got a job at the candy factory? Or how about Vitametavegamin? Or when Little Ricky became part of the show? These unforgettable moments are reminders of just how much of an impact this show had on viewers- and still does today as it is probably one of the longest running syndicated shows on TV. It doesn't matter if I've seen the episode a hundred times or never before, I still laugh until I cry.

The last time I caught an episode I remembered a quote that I had read by Lucille Ball (not the character, but the person), and found it to be quite insightful. It's odd to think of her outside of comedic, trouble making character, but if you read a little about her life it is quite a story. I thought I'd share today's quote because I think what she had to say is really important for us all to remember.

"I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I have not."

This seems like something she would say. She seems like the type of person who was a go-getter, one who wanted to try new things and was not afraid to fail. And I think we can really learn something from this crazy redhead. We need to go out and try things in order to learn to be better, in order to give ourselves the chance for new opportunities. Lucy understood this well and lived her life trying new things and never looking back. I really couldn't agree with her statement more. I find that in most cases, the regret of not doing something is far worse than the regret of actually doing it.

If we try something new and it doesn't work out too well, then at least we know we gave it a shot and we can cross it off our "to do" list. But if we don't even give things a try, how can we ever be sure that that one decision couldn't have changed our lives for the better? And that constant feeling of 'what if' is something that can drive you absolutely insane. So take it from Lucy, even if it means that later you might have some 'splaining to do.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, November 20, 2009

Light and Dark

Hello Optimists,

Lately I have been noticing how much people like to complain. I think it's something we do subconsciously, something that is done from habit- I don't really think we know why we're doing it. Ok, some of us really are having a bad day/week (hopefully not month!) and just need to vent. But on average, people just love to tell everyone what is wrong with their lives. Why don't we talk about what is good in our life? And if it is absolutely necessary to talk about the things that are troubling us, we should also be talking about how we plan to correct it. What good is identifying a problem without taking time to consider a solution?

What we need to do is think about how we can improve the so-called "bad" situation rather than complaining about how bad we think it is...because chances are, it's a really easy fix. It's like we have some kind of mental block that keeps us from seeing the big picture, like feeling down and sorry for ourselves will bring an end to the problem. When I came across today's quote, it seemed like the perfect match to what I had been thinking of.

"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." -Chinese Proverb

Exactly. What good will come of cursing the darkness? None. You still won't be able to see, won't be able to go anywhere, and can the darkness even hear you? Ummm, no. What good can come from lighting a candle to eliminate the darkness? You'll brighten your path and have the ability to continue on your journey- exactly what you were looking for. See? Small change. Simple solution. Bigger and better results.

It seems so easy, but it's not- you know it's not. But it's something to work on and something to think about the next time you find yourself complaining to your friend about the little things. You've got to go do something about it and turn it into a positive situation. Believe me, you'll find that being in the light is much much much better than being in the dark. Try it this weekend, and I bet you'll feel a sense of accomplishment for motivating yourself to find your own solutions. Plus, you'll be right on your way to being an optimist. Hmm, how appropriate. Have a wonderful weekend!

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Change or Change?

Hello Optimists,

Imagine this: Today someone offers you a new job in another state. It's with a great company, the new location sounds great, you have some old friends in that area, and the salary is comparable with what you earn now. Would you take it?

Now imagine this: Today someone offers you a new job in another state. It's with a great company, the new location sounds great, you have some old friends in that area, and they offer you double the salary you are currently earning plus a yearly bonus. Would you take it?

Now I'm guessing that after considering the first option, you weren't completely sold on the idea of moving to another state for a new job. I hear ya..."I don't want to uproot my life right now, I already have so much invested in my current lifestyle, I won't know many people, my job is pretty good...." All perfectly valid reasons. But after reading the second situation, I bet you were a little more open to the idea of relocating. I hear ya..."Well, it does sound like a great place to live, it won't be too hard to make new friends and in fact, it might be refreshing. I think I'm ready for a new job, this one isn't that great anyway..."

It's sad but true: Money a motivating factor in our lives. When I read today's quote, it made perfect sense and I think this type of thinking is true of nearly everyone.

"Most people won't accept the change that can't jingle in their pockets"

Are you one of these people? Probably. In fact, I think I might be. It's definitely true that people would make a major decision that they may not have otherwise even considered based solely on the fact that this would bring them more money. People generally are not open to big changes in life, but offer them some money, and suddenly it's an absolutely brilliant idea. We start convincing ourselves that it's something we have always wanted to do, something that could better our character, be a real life changer. But behind all of that, we just really want the money.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, and not everyone thinks this way, but money gets people to do great things that they might otherwise have been too lazy to do. It's the reason we have the best doctors and medical researchers in the world; they do their job and strive to be the best because they know they can make the Big Bucks. And thank goodness for that. But we need to be more open to little changes in life that can make just as much of a difference, even if it doesn't reel in a huge paycheck.

So next time you're faced with a new decision that could change things up a bit, ask yourself whether money is the motivating factor or if you would consider it regardless of how much extra change you could be carrying around...the answer might surprise you.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We're All Track Stars

Hello Optimists,

I consider myself an athlete. Throughout my lifetime, up until these last three years, my world revolved around sports. It didn't matter the season, I was always out playing as part of a team. Now looking back, it's amazing to see how much I have learned just by being so involved over the years. I didn't realize it at the time, but I really was learning amazing life lessons as I progressed through my athletic career. I understand the value of teammates...there are only a handful of sports that one can win all by themselves- I learned to rely on my teammates to help with the win. I learned that if I work hard in practice, things will be easier during the game. I learned to listen to and respect my coaches and the opinions of other players. Honestly, the list goes on. I am so happy I was able to participate in such great activities when I had the chance...

However, there's one sport that I always wish I had the time to fit into to my schedule: track and field. And as I was thinking about some of the things I could have learned from this sport, I remembered this quote and thought it would be perfect for today's post.

Life's problems wouldn't be called "hurdles" if there wasn't a way to get over them.

Ok, so maybe I've never run the hurdles in a race before. But I've certainly encountered them in life- I think we all have. Regardless of whether we're track stars or not, we all learn how to jump over hurdles. What we know to be true is that there is always a way to get over them. Even if our foot gets caught up on one on the way over, we still make it through and continue on to the finish line. Sure, it may add to our time a little, but it doesn't stop us from reaching our goal. Some hurdles are higher than others; it's meant to test our skill. This is the same deal in everyday life. We don't just graze through each day without facing any obstacles; new kinds of hurdles are thrown at us all the time. But somehow, we manage to get over them.

It's not about being able to run the fastest, it's about being able to clear each hurdle with the least fault. If you can manage to do this, I bet you'll be the first across the finish line. Each problem we face can be overcome, but some may take more time or hard work than others. What's important is not to give up because we can get over them.

So challenge your friends to a race today. It doesn't really matter who wins, but make sure that everyone crosses that finish line. And remember, the more you practice, the easier it gets during the game.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Keep Dreamin'

Hello Optimists,

I think there's one thing everybody loves: free stuff. Am I right or am I right? Whether there's someone handing out t-shirts, free bottles of water, or even keychains, we'll take one or two...or five. We just can't help ourselves, free stuff lures us in like kid to a candy store. It's that moment of excitement we feel from getting something for nothing..."YES! Free keychains?!? This is great...I'll take one for my sister and my roommates and my uncle and...." Really? Were you out shopping for a keychain that day? Is that on your Christmas list? Probably not, but we love it nonetheless.

So this got me thinking about free stuff and I started to consider all of the free things we get in day. Some are even more exciting than free keychains, believe it or not, and some...well, not so much. But, we should always think about what freebies we get everyday and feel the same excitement as when we get those random little gifts on the side. The things we get everyday are far better than t-shirts or bottles of water and can really change our lives. It's a matter of making the most of the free things we receive. Today's quote couldn't be more applicable:

"Dreams are free, so free your dreams." - Astrid Alauda

Ahh, dreams. In my opinion, dreams are probably the best free things we can get in day. They're readily available (so no one will give you dirty looks if you go back for seconds), never expire, can lead to really great ideas, and most importantly, are 100% free. Sounds like a good deal to me. But a dream is just a dream if we don't do anything with them.  Remember MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech? Perfect example: Put your dreams to work. We've got to be willing to let them fly, to develop into a vision and a reality, and to become more than just a thought. Isn't there something you've always wanted to do, something you've always dreamed of? ....Yeah, I thought so. It's never too late to free your free dreams, so what are you waiting for?

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Monday, November 16, 2009

Watch Your Attitude

Hello Optimists,

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I did; I got a lot of work done but still had some time to relax. Though as I prepared for today, oh dreaded Monday, I couldn't help but try to hold on to the weekend as long as possible. Yesterday morning I lay in bed trying to sleep even though my eyes were wide open, I made pancakes for breakfast in order to distract myself from starting work, and didn't get out of my pajamas until almost noon. All of this just to avoid the fact that my beloved weekend was coming to a close.

But then I realized I needed to change my thinking. Where was this procrastination getting me? It certainly wasn't going to keep me locked in Sunday for a few more hours and it wouldn't eliminate the fact that I actually had to do things tomorrow, so I decided I better change my attitude. I acknowledged the fact that if I started my week off with a negative outlook and a bad attitude, this would carry through for the rest of the week. Today's quote seemed to fit perfectly with the realization I had just come to, so I thought it might help us all out with coping with the Monday blues.

"Our attitude toward life determines life's attitude toward us" -Earl Nightingale

This is exactly what I needed to hear...or actually, read. But nonetheless, I felt so much better after finding this quote because it really is true. If we go out into the world with a negative attitude, that's all we can expect back in exchange. Haven't you ever noticed that the more positively you look at the things in your life, the better things turn out? If a pessimistic view fogs up our windows, no one else is going to come clean them for us. People just aren't going to be nice in return to a bad attitude and things just won't work out so smoothly if we continue thinking so cynically. But, try opening your eyes to the good things in life and take notice of what you get back. It is definitely more of a challenge to carry a good attitude toward things, but you'll see that the good things in life will return the favor.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Friday, November 13, 2009

Defining Happiness

Hello Optimists,

When we are asked what we'd like most in life, one common answer is "to be happy". So what exactly constitutes happiness? I suppose it's different for everybody. Some say having a lot of money, some say having a family, some say having a great career. These are all valid answers and really do make a lot of people happy. But often, happiness is defined by a long term goal that is very hard to reach or can never be satisfactorily achieved. It's good to dream and to set goals, but if we are unhappy while trying to get there, maybe we should reconsider our definition.

Sometimes in striving to reach that state of bliss we lose sight of what our present life consists of. We miss out on what great things are happening every day because we're so concentrated on making sure we will can satisfy that goal. We take for granted our current place in life because our view is too clouded with visions of our future euphoria. I'm certainly guilty of this- I often find myself thinking only about what lies ahead instead of making the most of my day, and sometimes I miss out on some important things. When I found today's quote, it really grounded me and allowed me to step back for a moment and take in everything that was going on at that instant, and I hope that it does the same for you.

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have." -Frederick Koeing

If you think about it, we work so hard to get the things we don't yet have but desperately want, only to get them and enjoy them for just a little bit until our happiness wanes and we set our sights on something else. It's all too easy to take the present for granted, but we really should stop and take the opportunity to acknowledge and find our happiness in the things we currently have. This is where true happiness comes from.

So give it a try today; take some time to identify the things in your state in life right now that can define your happiness. If we don't take time to appreciate the present, we won't be able to remember all of the great people, events and memories in our life...and forgetting about all of that certainly won't lead us to happiness.

Have a Great Weekend and Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Healthy Alternative to Pumpkin Pie

Hello Optimists,

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we all know what that means: great food. I've been thinking about it so much lately, and I can't stop my mouth from watering when I think about all the fabulous desserts that I shouldn't be eating (but I will be).  Apple pie, pumpkin pie, cookies, ice cream......ohhh I should really stop.

Speaking of pie, I was thinking today about how much we can all benefit from eating a piece of pie that has less fat, fewer calories, and won't leave us feeling like we need to be rolled away from the dinner table. As far as the taste, well....nothing can really compare to the originals, but this should do the trick. So what kind of pie am I talking about exactly? You guessed it...humble pie.

I came across this quote and realized we can all use a good piece of humble pie, not only during Thanksgiving, but all throughout the year. Here's the recipe:

"It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help."
       -Judith Martin    

So this Judith Martin really knows what she's talking about. I had never heard of her, but a simple Google search revealed that she is a journalist, author and etiquette authority better known as 'Miss Manners'. I guess that adds a bit of credibility to her statement. Etiquette authority or not, this statement is completely true. There's nothing worse than bragging, especially when it's about yourself. It really is far more impressive when people discover your good qualities without hearing it from you first. It adds an element of surprise and admiration to the relationship and leaves that person eager to know more.

Think about it: if you learned something great about your seemingly "average" friend, wouldn't it wow you, make you admire them, make you want to do something just as great, and make you value your friendship with them even more? Now think about if this same friend had been running their mouth for the past half hour about their newest achievement and how great they were for it, how much people wanted to be like them, blah blah blah. See? I'm already annoyed and this is a purely hypothetical situation. There's nothing wrong with being proud of something you've done or accomplished and sharing it with friends, but remember that if it really is a great thing, people will eventually find out and you will get recognition for it.

So today (and in two weeks) lay off the pumpkin pie and dive into a piece of humble pie. I guarantee people will respect you more and find value in the relationships you build, not to mention it'll save you a boatload of calories. And if, in the process, you keep off a few of those unwanted pounds, I guess I can take credit for that too.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"The Possibilities of a Peanut"

Hello Optimists,

We've all heard of George Washington, but how about George Washington Carver? It rings a bell, right? I must admit, I too knew the name, but knew little to nothing about the man. That doesn't really make much sense in my book, so I did a little research and found not only today's quote, but a great story behind it about a man who has truly lived by his own words. Long story short, George Washington Carver was a scientist, inventor, educator, botanist, (the list goes on) who rose out of slavery and went on to develop alternative crops to cotton, like peanuts and sweet potatoes, and the ever important crop-rotation method. Ok, so maybe being tagged as the "inventor of peanut agricultural science" doesn't sound that appealing, but stay with me here, because this gets good.

In his scientific studies he developed over three hundred different products derived from the peanut, including ink, shampoo, soap, facial cream, and many more (who knew?!) that allowed farmers to increase their sales and build a better life. His discoveries were so useful to farmers, he was invited by Thomas Edison to work at his laboratories for $100,000 per year (that's $1 million in today's money) but turned it down. He was not about the money, not about the fame. He just wanted to keep doing what he did best: improve people's quality of life.

He is noted for hosting a discussion titled "The Possibilities of a Peanut" where he laid out all of his revolutionary plans and new products he could develop. Now I don't know about you, but if I was in that audience and heard the title of this discussion, I'd be the first to head for the door. So how exactly does someone become world famous from making things out of a peanut? I believe the same man that did just that has the answer....

"When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." 

I love this quote because it's absolutely true, and more importantly, comes from a person who has actually lived these words. And what's even better is that these words were applicable when he spoke them, they still are today, and will continue to be forever. It doesn't matter whether you're designing a new 'workout shoe' (Fit Flop, anyone?), developing a cure for cancer, or making things from peanuts. What does matter is how you go about doing it.

We all have the potential to command the attention of the world...and wouldn't that be great? But we can't do it if we just keep doing things that have been done hundreds of time before. We have to do things in a new, uncommon, inspiring way. Just look at the big G.W.C. - it seemed to work for him!

Oh, and I promise, that's the last of the history lessons for the week.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Are you Open to Change?

Hello Optimists,

Lately I've been reflecting back on all of the changes that have occurred in my life in the past few years. Moving away from home, choosing (and re-choosing) a path toward a career, fending for myself....and I must say that I am pretty happy with where I am and what decisions got me here. Sure there are times when I'd like to go back 5 years and start all over again, but overall, I took each change presented to me and ran with it.

This all got me thinking: I wonder if we are all open to changes in life? I'm pretty sure the answer is no. I bet we can all think of someone who is so rooted in their state in life that any new opportunities or alternate plans are immediately shot down because of the fear of change. I understand though, change can be a scary thing... and let's face it, no one likes to be scared. That's why I don't particularly like Halloween, but that's neither here nor there. Anyway, we should not fear taking a risk, making a change or turning a new leaf. Rather, we should embrace the new opportunity and look forward to what great new things life can bring us.

When I came across today's quote, it was exactly what I was looking for.

"Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become."

We don't know what the future holds, but if we never make a change or take a chance to see what is out there, we'll never get to experience what is in store for us. We have the ability to become whatever we want to be and to do whatever we want to do, but we need to be open to the changes that bring these opportunities about. So where do you stand on this? Feel free to join the discussion....

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist