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

Monday, November 9, 2009

How to Climb Mt. Everest

Hello Optimists,

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and soaked up all of the sunshine...what great weather for November! All I wanted to do was sit in the grass and watch the clouds float by. I had visions of summer; sipping lemonade by the pool, having picnics with friends, going on long bike was great! Then I remembered the winter holiday season is right around the corner, and snow would soon be falling. Oh well, it was nice to dream.

Then I realized I needed to snap out of it..I had things to do! Ah,  how nice it would be to lounge around all day, have time to do whatever we wanted. Yeah, they say that's "the life". Now I know not all of us would like a lifestyle like that, but I guarantee we've all fantasized about it at least once or twice. I know I have. But having nothing to do, nothing to get accomplished, no goals set for the future- where would that get us?

I think I would enjoy that lax lifestyle for, oh, about a week or so. Then for sure I'd be bored. Why, you ask? I like the fact that I am constantly working toward something, whether it be long term or short term. But I think people get intimidated when faced with certain things in life, which is completely understandable. It's like an internal battle of your confidence, your motivation, your will to succeed. You know, when the little angel version of yourself is on one shoulder and the devil version is on the other. It's a constant battle, and the only way we lose is if we give in to the challenge before us. It's really easy to give in and take the easy route out. That's why we should all remember this little verse the next time we're faced with a challenge:

The steeper the mountain, the harder the climb, the better the view from the finishing line   

The challenges and obstacles we face everyday may seem like they can never be achieved. But you know there's a part inside of all of us that holds the power to do whatever it is we want. Finding that place is the hard part.

 This verse makes a lot of sense: What seems like an insurmountable task will certainly challenge us physically, mentally, even emotionally, but once we've conquered it, it leaves a great sense of pride when we can look back and see what a great thing we have accomplished. Knowing that all your hard work will pay off in the end and that the outcome of a task is well worth it definitely helps to get the job done. But it's times when we're a little too scared to take that chance, to push ourselves just a little bit harder, that we need to look at the bigger picture and think about how great that view will be from the finishing line.

Of course, we need to start out small. We can't wake up one morning and expect to climb Mt. Everest, but setting your sights on it is not a bad idea, because eventually, you can get there. Whatever it is that challenges you, whether it be baking a cake or working to reduce your firm's corporate expenses by 50%, remember that it is not impossible. It may be a daunting task, and it will certainly take some hard work to get it done, but the feeling of pride and accomplishment that fills you up will certainly make it all worth it. So face your challenges head on today- and I promise that when you're finished, you'll be happy you did.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Batter Up!

Hello Optimists,

Even though the Phillies failed to clinch the title in Wednesday's World Series game (and the city of Philadelphia is still recovering from this devastating reality), I thought it would be appropriate to start off today's conversation with a tribute to America's favorite pastime and to a Yankee whose legend will probably never die. I'm talking about the one and only Babe know, "The Babe", "The Sultan of Swat", "The Great Bambino", "The Colossus of Clout"...

The Babe, who last appeared in the MLB in 1935, was and still is one of the league's most prolific hitters.  Now while it may be true that we remember him more for his great skill in the game of baseball and not so much for the things he has said, we might want to take a moment to relive some of his words.

"I swing big, with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can."

Baseball fan or not, these words are really powerful. Taken literally, his words are quite true. He did swing big, really big...big enough to blast 714 home runs and nearly 3,000 hits. I've played baseball for more than half of my life, so I know a thing or two about hitting big. But I also know the strategy behind a squeeze bunt, and this can just as quickly win a game as a home run. But I'd much rather the big hit, it's a lot more to talk about. Now let's take this quote a bit out of context and apply it outside the realm of baseball, and give it an even greater meaning. I read this quote and think not only of baseball, but of life.

I think it is important for us all to learn to be 'big hitters' in life. And let's face it, we'd all like to be the Babe Ruth of our office, our class, or even just of our group of friends. It's also key to understand when to pull the squeeze bunt and catch everyone by surprise, but we can't rely on this tactic all the time. We need to pull out the big bats and swing big. Babe tells us there's only two things that can happen: you can hit big or you can miss big. Either way, you gave it your everything. So if you end up hitting it, you can become The Babe. If you end up missing it, it makes you more eager for that next at bat, where you have yet another chance to swing for the stands, and no one can deny that you tried like heck to blast it the last time you were at the plate. We need to stop bunting all the time- everyone knows it's coming and we're probably going to give the other team an easy out. We also need to stop taking the third strike-there's nothing worse than seeing the perfect pitch but not even sticking the bat out to try to hit it. We've got to face our days with Babe's confidence and courage because that's the only way our ball is heading out to that kid out in center field with the foam finger.

So today's the big game. We're facing some stiff competition and it's going to be a tough one. You're on deck, so go warm up and remember to swing big, with everything you've got.

Keep smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Creatures of Habit

Hello Optimists,

I must admit: I am a creature of habit. And I'm sure many of you are too. I think it's a common trait among us all...we just can't help it. Routine makes things easy- we know what to do, when to do it, and how to get it done. You know what I' talking about- you know it well. We wake up in the morning and our "routine" gets us ready for work, we go through our day performing the same things over and over again, until it's time to go home. And when we get there, it's pretty much the same every night, with of course, the exception of a random trip to the grocery store or going out with some friends on the weekend...but overall, we tend to do the same things.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with routine. It's like a security blanket for us. We do things repeatedly because we are confident that it will give us the best results, we know we've done it before and it works every time. It is an extremely efficient way of getting things done. This is the reason Henry Ford invented the assembly line and the reason manufacturers replaced factory workers with got the job done quickly and efficiently through repeated action. To some, this was a great invention while some detested it because it reduced the human labor force. But wait a minute, we're not machines. We should be doing something that requires actual brain power. Maybe Henry Ford was doing us all a favor: maybe he thought "Let's give the workers something better to do, something that requires skill, creativity and knowledge, and let's keep that boring, mundane work for the machines." Or maybe he just wanted to make more money. Either way, we should be happy because this opened up new opportunities to show our skill.

Ok, so you may not totally agree with that. But back to routine. I'll be the first to attest that if someone or something throws off my routine, I'm all messed up. Seriously, if I don't wake up, make my bed, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, shower, get dressed, and read the news online in precisely that order, there's no way my day is going to feel right. Why?? It's really kind of funny when you think about it. I think this type of routine is ok, but if it carries into every single aspect of our lives, that's not ok. That's why today's quote really struck a chord with me and made me realize that we all could be missing out on new opportunities and experiences....

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten"     

I couldn't have said it better. If we want to achieve something great or do something new, we can't just sit around and wait for luck to slap us in the face, we have to make it happen. So maybe today I'll read the news online, shower, then eat breakfast, and see how my day goes from there. Who knows, I may discover something new! Try it out..and let me know how it goes.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Finding Our Purpose

Hello Optimists,

I don't know about you, but I always find myself questioning what it is that I'm doing here....Ahh the eternal question: What is my purpose in life? I guess the answer to this is different for everybody, but no matter how we define our purpose, the behaviors, actions and sometimes the beliefs we hold true have an affect on many people..probably more than we can even imagine.

When I came across today's quote, it seemed to sum up exactly what I had been trying to figure out.

"If it matters what you do, do something that matters."

If whatever you're doing is important to you, make it just as important for others. It means a lot when we can make a difference, whether it be very large or very small. If we got through our days just doing things by routine, how much of a positive impact can we make? But if we go through our days with a conscious acknowledgement of our actions, think about how much more positively we can influence a situation. We may always be searching for our purpose, but while we're figuring it out, we should always strive to do something that matters. So try it out today- don't go though the day with blinders on, but open up to make sure what you're doing is worthwhile to you...and someone else.

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Let's Get It Started...

Hello Fellow Optimists,

I am very excited to begin writing about and discussing topics inspired from some of my favorite quotes. Every day I will post a new quote and a discussion about it in hopes make a difference in the way you go about your everyday life. But no worries, I am not tree hugger, youth pastor, motivational speaker, or any of those other "Let's all hold hands and sing songs" kind of person, I am just an Average Joe who'd like to share my thoughts and inspirations.

I have always been influenced by quotes, whether they be from U.S. presidents, celebrities or even from a conversation I hear on the street. Recently I have begun to make a collection of some of my favorites, and every morning before I start my day, I read one. I have been inspired by so many of them and they continue to give me new views on the way I live my life. Some are empowering, some are witty, some are purely energizing, while some just make ya think. But the key to it all is that they are all optimistic. And that's what puts a smile on my face and reminds me throughout the day that things really aren't as bad as we make them out to be.

It seems that this inspiration is contagious, as so many of my friends and family have felt this spark when I share these thoughts with them...and so began my quest to share with everyone through Optimal Optimist. So, I invite you to read along as I share and discuss some of my favorite quotes. Feel free to comment, contribute and share some of your ideas and thoughts as they pertain to each post.

Here's one to start off - I'll let this quote speak for itself and let you enjoy it for the day.

"You don't stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing." -Michael Pritchard 

Keep Smiling,
Optimal Optimist