Monday, November 29, 2010

A New Look, A New Find

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and took some time to reflect on all of the things in life that you are grateful for. I know I certainly did, and I also took the time to eat more than my weight in desserts like pumpkin pie, apple pie, pumpkin roll and cookies...probably not the best idea, but I certainly enjoyed it.

After a long drive back to my apartment, I unpacked and decided to make the most of my last few hours of this holiday break by taking out one of the books I've been reading on and off for the past few weeks. Normally I reserve reading for pleasure for times when I can really concentrate on the information in the book, but I've been so anxious to read that I've started this book despite having to put it on hold through several interruptions thus far. I'm reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, and I am only about 100 pages in, but I'm intrigued by the information presented so far.

As you know, I love reading books on happiness and positivity, but I started reading this from a business standpoint, not so much from an optimist standpoint. Or so I thought. But as things tend to pan out, the idea of positive thinking has once again found its way into my life. As I read through a particular part in the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the quoted words of a man who was interviewed for the book. Among other powerful words, he said, "Because you know what, the power of positive thinking will overcome so many things." Those words seemed to jump out from the page, bolded and intensified as if to stress their already coincidental appearance.

Then, just a few pages later, I read about a study from another book called Emotional Contagion (and without getting too much into detail here) reveals that emotion is contagious. Gladwell then went on to use an example of smiles, saying that one person can pass their happiness on to another through this idea of contagious emotion. He could have picked any emotion or action, like yawning for instance...we all know yawning is contagious, so this would be a perfect example of this idea! But no, he chose smiles. So there I was, reading this book through the eyes of a businessperson, and suddenly found myself thinking about Optimal Optimist. It was such a great thing to have stumbled upon, and even though there was no one else around, my smile was big enough to be contagious to anyone within a 10 mile radius. Have no doubt that those page ends are folded in, marking that spot for future reference and inspiration.

So in honor of this new find, I wanted to share with you a quote that follows this "coincidence" quite closely...
Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open. -John Barrymore
So I guess it really shouldn't have been such a surprise that these ideas of optimism and positivity find their way into my life (and into my books!). Instead, I now believe that by keeping this blog and by making optimism a way of life, I've opened the door for many other great things to have a place in my life. It's certainly a benefit of finding happiness!

Have you found that doing the things you love opens more doors for more opportunities in life?

Keep Smiling,

P.S. As you can see, I've changed my template! I wanted to change things up a bit to give the posts a cleaner look and allow the focus to be only on the words - don't want anything to distract us from our positive thoughts! What do you think? Do you like it...or dislike it? I welcome your feedback :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

Happy Thanksgiving! I know most of my U.S.-based readers are busy getting things prepared for the Thanksgiving feast, so I won't make today's entry too long. But in honor of today's holiday, I wanted to express how important it is to show our gratitude and appreciation for all of the great things we have in life. 

In the tradition of Thanksgiving celebrations, I will share a (short) list of the things I am most grateful for in my life (though the list could go on and on!)...

I am thankful for...
- The opportunity to be surrounded with my family while sharing great food, stories, laughter, and love
- Living a healthy and happy life
- Another post here on OO and making positive connections with all of you!
- My dedication and hard work that will be leading up to a great milestone next year
- The ability to have a positive outlook on life

I have about a million more things I am grateful for, but if you ever want to get away from the screen and get to celebrating today's holiday, I thought it would be best to keep it to just a few things. 

The idea behind Thanksgiving is so important, but we should really think about ways in which we can extend this holiday to not only acknowledging it once a year, but every day if we can. Showing gratitude for the things we love most about life will really make us more aware of the great things happening all the time, all around us. Today's featured quote is a great one to keep in mind because it reminds us of just that...

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest person it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." -Edward Sandford Martin

Think about this as you're sitting around the table today and be sure to share it with your friends and family. Remember to open your heart to gratitude not only on Thanksgiving, but every day. 

What are you thankful for today?

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 22, 2010

How to be Alone

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

Of all the things that we humans do well, being alone is not one of them. We have this thing about it, that it just might be the worst thing in the world. Most of us wouldn't dare sit at a table for one and eat a meal with only ourselves. No, no.... that wouldn't look good. That would look lonely.  And we don't want to look lonely. 

So we take out our cell phones and talk cheerfully to the silence on the other end. We flip open a book whose pages don't turn, but rather stay as a centerpiece to keep our attention from meeting the eyes of others who are sitting happily with others. We gulp down our meal in hopes that this spare time will go by quickly and our solitude will go unnoticed.

So what is it about being with ourselves that is so wrong? Well, I'm not really sure, because personally, I like it. Of course I certainly enjoy the company of others and look forward to meeting with friends, but if I find myself accompanied by only me, I am perfectly okay with that too. I figure if I'm not comfortable enough with myself to be in my own presence, then how can I hope that others would enjoy spending time with me? Besides, I get my best thinking done when I'm alone. I find that some of my best conversations in life are those I've had with myself in my own head.

I came across this video the other day which puts this whole "being alone" thing into perspective, so I hope you can take a few minutes to view it. Fittingly, it's called "How to be Alone" and I think you'll find it quite refreshing...

I just love this little video. So many of the things said in here are just right on, and so for today's featured quote, I chose to feature one of the verses from the poem...
"'Cuz if you're happy in your head then solitude is blessed and alone is okay." -How to be Alone
I like this verse in particular because I think it's so important to be happy in your own head.  Once we have achieved this, we will find that being alone is a freedom that we should take advantage of more often. So if you find yourself in a moment of solitude, "resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone", relax, and enjoy the peace that you can bring to your own life. I hope this inspires you to welcome "alone time" in your life, or if nothing else, to stop dreading being by yourself.

I'd love if you would share your thoughts on this video and/or on your perspective on being alone. Feel free to leave comments below!

Keep Smiling,

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lessons from a Wizard

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

I remember receiving my first copy of Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone way back when I was in the fourth grade. It was a Christmas gift from a friend, and I accepted it with excitement and slight hesitation. I had heard all of the hype and I wanted to see what it was all about..but a world of wizards? Even as a ten year old, I wasn't so sure about all of this...

In three days, I had finished the book. It fascinated me. I was an instant fan, and couldn't wait another second until the next book came out. Over a decade later (whoa!) I have read through the thousands of pages contained in the seven part series, I have seen all of the movies that have been released up until now, and am eagerly awaiting my first viewing of the new movie released today! I promised my brother-in-law that I'd wait to see it with him over Thanksgiving so I need to keep my eyes and ears shut to all of the news that I'm sure will be out after the midnight premieres last night. He's lucky I like him...

While I love the action packed scenes of the movies, the enthralling and well-written words of the books, the perfect hero-villain plots of each story, and the lovely British accents of the actors, I love the Harry Potter stories because they're so inspirational. Behind all of the spells, witches' hats, and three-headed dogs lie stories that send out positive messages about life, friendship, happiness, and perseverance. I'm not sure that I realized all of this when I first read through the pages of The Sorcerer's Stone, but I certainly do now. That's why I'm still a fan.

Today's featured quote is one of my favorites (and spoken by one of my favorite characters in the story!) and I am happy to share it with you today in honor of the release of the first half of the final HP movie.
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.  ~Steven Kloves (screenplay),  Spoken by the character Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Ah, Dumbledore, what a wise old wizard. A happy life is something everyone wants, whether one is going to Hogwarts or living in the muggle world. This is a reminder that happiness is always surrounding us, it's always there and ready to bring a smile to our face. Sometimes it takes the front seat and shines in the spotlight; other times, it is pushed to the back and gets lost in the darkness. But have no doubt that it's always present no matter how "dark" things seem to be. It's just up to us to make sure we remember to turn on the light to reveal its place in our life.

The seventh and final story of the Harry Potter series has (finally) made its way onto the big screen and I can't wait to see it. It's a very exciting story and full of all of the inspiration and great qualities that have made the series so popular - so I know that I'm in for a treat!

Do you have any plans to see the new movie? What are some of your favorite inspirational parts of the movies and/or books?

Keep Smiling,

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

10 Thoughts on Success

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

I came across a wonderful website yesterday and I read through a lot of great articles about happiness, growth, success, and just living. I was so inspired by what I read that I knew I had to share a piece of it with you here on OO.

I stumbled upon a slideshow called "10 Thoughts on Success" and immediately clicked through to view it. I think it's a common trait among almost all people to strive for something better, to improve, and to find success in life - at least that's what I try to do - and the 10 little "thoughts" contained in the slideshow were very inspirational and helped me envision a better and brighter future. So, I thought I would share them today as the featured quotes. Here are some of my favorites (though I could have listed all 10, I wanted to leave you the opportunity to view the page yourself).
Lessons: See your mistakes not as personal flaws, but as the source of your most valuable life lessons. 
Dream: Make this the day you stop dreaming and start doing. 
Focus: Missteps are a part of any success. Stay focused on where you're headed. 
Direction: Find your direction in life by looking where you want to go in life, not where you don't. 
Worth: Know your worth - and accept nothing less. 
I just love the message that these little "thoughts" are sending us and I hope that you can all keep them in mind as you strive for success in life. Sometimes we just need a little message like this to keep us on track and to make sure that we never settle for anything less than we deserve.

If you'd like to check out the other 5 thoughts on success from this article, you can find the link above - I guarantee that viewing the rest will be well worth your time!

After you read through all 10 thoughts, are there any others that you would add to the list? I'd love for you to share your thoughts on this one!

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 15, 2010

World Kindness Day

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

Today's post is written in celebration of World Kindness Day! (It was officially celebrated Saturday, but for us Optimists, the party never stops for kindness!) I've been reading up on the holiday and its celebrations around the world, and I thought I would share some of the information I found with you:

World Kindness Day evolved from a series of conferences in 1996-1997 in Japan by a group known as the World Kindness Movement. These conferences brought together groups interested in promoting more kindness around the world.  It culminated in the "Declaration of Kindness" on November 13, 1997. With this declaration, a new and very special day was born.

According to the World Kindness Movement websiteWorld Kindness Day is intended to "build a kinder and more compassionate world".

I think it's so great that the whole planet can come together to celebrate this awesome holiday. We need some more kindness in our world and I hope that this movement can catch on and that we can build a positive force that every nation can share. I found a great quote that fits into today's theme very well and I thought it would be perfect to share in today's post...

"How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!"-George Elliston

This is very true. A kind gesture or a random act of kindness that makes its way into your day can completely turn your mood around. What's so special is that it usually doesn't take much; kindness can be found in the smallest of acts - think of an appreciative "Thank You!" or a stranger who opens up the door for you. These little acts of kindness are sometimes the things that matter most and the things that can make the biggest impact.

In order to celebrate, we must participate. So today, I hope you will make yourself (and someone else) a beautiful day by performing a random act of kindness or offering a kind gesture to those in your life. This is one special moment where the whole world is taking the time to consider the beauty of kindness and I hope it can become not only one special day in our year, but a movement that becomes part of humanity.

Let's join in the fun of a global celebration! If you'd like to leave a comment today, leave your location along with your positive thoughts to share with other readers who are stopping by so we can see the true reach of World Kindness Day! :)

Keep Smiling,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Finding Light in the Dark

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

Daylight Savings Time's little one-hour time change has really made a huge difference these past few days. It felt great to gain that extra hour of sleep and now I'm finding that my days feel longer than ever...almost dragging on. Of course, that's not a bad thing, but the one thing I don't like about this change is that it starts getting dark around 4:30pm. I just love the sun, and seeing it go down earlier and earlier every day is no just no fun. I like the way the sun lights everything up and I especially like the warmth that it brings. Dark and cold just seems so...dark and cold.

I was driving home (in the dark) yesterday and I was trying to find the good in this new situation. As I drove, Despite the darkness of the sky, I noticed the streets seemed to be unusually bright; the houses were glowing from within showing the life that moved inside and the street lights added some sparkle to the road. Now keep in mind that this is the same route I take almost every day, at the same time, but because of that one measly hour that Daylight Savings Time had taken away, it was a whole new ride.

As I thought more about the beauty that I was finding in an otherwise dismal setting, I remembered a great quote about a similar idea that I thought would be great to feature in today's post.
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. -Elisabeth Kubler Ross
I just love this quote and it is so true! Darkness should not be seen as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity to see the real light shining from within that could not otherwise be seen during the daytime. Here you will feel the warmth, see the shine, and witness the beauty that can come from the light that we all hold inside. Sure, we all look great in the light, and look to the dark only to hide those unwanted "flaws", but it is in the darkness that we can have the chance to really shine.

So while I'm still adjusting to this whole "afternoon darkness" idea, I do have a new perspective on it. And best part of it all is that I will now remember this great quote and apply it to my life. I want to sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but more importantly, I want my light to shine even when the sun sets...and I hope you will too.

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 8, 2010

Inspiring Inspiration

Image: Google

Hello Optimists,

I came across a link for a commencement address the other day and decided to check it out. I know, I know, addresses and speeches like this are hardly ever attention-grabbing. I've sat through my fair share of them, and while at times they can be inspiring and motivating, they tend to be a bit too long, giving the audience just enough time thinking about random things like their grocery list or what they'd rather be doing at the time.

It's sad that commencement speeches have gotten such a bad wrap, but I think it would be safe to say that if you were in attendance at the ceremony from the clip that I watched, your attention would be at its peak the entire time. Larger universities usually pull in some great speakers, and this school is no exception. This speech was given by the Mac tycoon, Steve Jobs, to the graduating class at Stanford back in 2005.

He was certainly the exception to the rule of boring commencement speakers. His from-the-heart address really had an impact on me and I can say that it left me wanting more after he had finished up his speech. I've included it in today's post so you too can be inspired by his words.

(The clip is about 15 minutes long, and totally worth your time, so if you don't have a few minutes to spare right now, be sure to revisit this speech as soon as you can!)

He said a lot of great things during his address, and I found myself hitting the pause button quite a few times to write down the most inspiring of his words. I thought for today's post I would share just two of the many quotes that I wrote down from his speech to give you just a little taste of his inspiring words.
There is no reason not to follow your heart. -Steve Jobs
Everyday for the past 33 years, I've looked in the mirror and asked myself, "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.  -Steve Jobs
We all know Steve Jobs is an extremely successful man and heads one of the most popular and innovative companies in the world. But hearing his own words of advice given to those who are just about to embark on a new professional journey in their lives really shows that he understands the importance of following your passion. So if you didn't believe me before about the inspiration behind his words, you can go ahead and click Play now.   :)

We hear all the time that we should be following our hearts, but how many of us actually take that seriously and really do it? A lot of times we (myself included) just make excuses as to why things wouldn't work or why we wouldn't make it concerning the things that our heart is pointing the way towards. Why? Well, because it's scary to take a leap of faith and it's a big risk. But if our heart is in it, we should feel safe that our passion will drive all of the other factors into our success. We need to follow our hearts- it's something I'm working on doing...and I hope you will too.

I think I too am going to start asking myself that question about "doing what I am about to do" on a regular basis because I think it's a great way to keep on track with our goals. Sure, sometimes we have to do the things we really don't want to do- that's just a part of life. But as Steve Jobs says, if we start to see a pattern of No's appearing, we know it's time to make a change. We've got to start filling each day with the things in life that we love the most...that's where we'll find we're the happiest!

So I assure you that this is one commencement speech that you will not dread listening to. I encourage you to listen to it with an open mind and heart and I promise that after hearing these inspiring words, you'll be happy you did. Keep his words in mind and be sure to share this video with your friends...we all need a little dose of inspiration once in a while!

What was your favorite part of his speech? I'd love for you to share your favorite quotes from the speech!

Keep Smiling,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Let your Work Shine

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

Before officially starting today's post, I wanted to extend a sincere thank you to all of those who commented on my last post marking the 1 year anniversary of the start of Optimal Optimist. Your support really means so much to me and it drives the inspiration behind each post I write!

When birthdays come around, we tend to look back on all of the years that have passed, and (hopefully) think about all the good times and experiences we've had thus far. So in celebration of this past year, I started thinking back on the first few days of writing this blog. Initially, I did not feature a profile picture and had no trace of my name anywhere on the blog- readers just knew me as "Optimal Optimist". I did that on purpose, first because I wasn't so sure I wanted my name out there, and second because....well, I wasn't so sure if people would even respond to this whole idea. To be honest, I was a little scared. I had never written a blog before so this whole concept was really new to me. I remember sharing the link to one of my first posts with some friends and family, and they had absolutely no idea I was the one behind the writing.

It's kind of nice to be able to sit back and watch for reactions to your work, whether they be positive or negative, because people won't be afraid to voice their honest opinions and you can let the work speak for itself. How many times do we let brand names or logos make a buying decision for us without even testing out the quality or performance of a product? Well, the same situation applies here- I didn't want people to like/dislike my blog just because they like/dislike me or my profile photo. So, I remained "anonymous" for a while, until I felt that my writing had established itself enough for me to reveal myself as the author.

Today's featured quote follows my line of thinking on this matter quite perfectly....
If I could I would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their results. –Emily Bronte  
This is exactly what I was going for in the early days of Optimal Optimist! I wanted the success of my blog to be based solely on the words and content that people would read. My "silence and obscurity" was done intentionally because I wanted the content to be the star of the show- I wanted to make a difference and send a positive message out to anyone who stumbled across the blog.

Even though I now have my picture up on my profile and my name listed somewhere on one of the pages of this blog, I still hope that the words that fill the posts of Optimal Optimist are what truly bring readers to the page. One year later, I am still striving for my efforts to be known by their results.

I hope you can keep this in mind as well. Though it's important to associate your name with your work, don't let it be the guiding light in your success. Rather, let your work shine through and soon enough,  recognition will follow, and everyone will know your name.

Keep Smiling,

A few months back I wrote a post called "The Simple Things" that is still one of my favorites, where I listed the simple things in life that make me happy and that I try not to take for granted. Check out the Ladaisi blog's "Plain Vanilla" post whose author, Lauren, joined in the fun and created an awesome list of simple things that she loves in her life!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Optimal Optimist is 1 Year Old!!!

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

As you know, I have some big news! I am happy to announce that today is the 1-year anniversary of Optimal Optimist! Wow, I cannot even believe it's already been a whole year since my first post. 

370-some days ago, I had just a little idea in my head about starting a blog about optimism. A few days later, I finally shared my thoughts with one of my best friends, who of course, supported my idea 100% and gave me the confidence I needed to start making a difference. So, on November 3, 2009, I officially start this blog. Since then, I've been typing away - and 231 posts later, I'm still here, sharing some of my thoughts and some well-known inspirational, motivational, and thought-provoking quotes with all of you! 

Let me just say that I cannot thank you all enough for your overwhelming support and the enthusiasm that you bring with each comment, "Like", email, and other words of encouragement that you've shared with me. I am so happy that I have had the chance to "meet" so many other great bloggers and readers who share the same passion for life and positive thinking, and I'm excited for what the future has in store for us and this blog!

Today's featured quote is an especially inspiring one and I'm so excited to share it with you. This not only applies to the author of this blog (ahem....fixes bowtie) but also to each and every one of you who have started on your own journey of positive thinking.
The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results. -Normal Vincent Peale
As Optimal Optimists, we are all activating the world around us, whether we know it or not and whether we can immediately see these changes or not, and are definitely drawing back positive results. I've shared with you all of the "positive signs" that have been popping up in my life since I've started this blog, and many of you have shared similar stories of this happening in your life as well. It's awesome! 

But in addition to getting something back from optimism, we are also sending out waves of positivity into the world. We can all making a difference. And that...well, that's just an amazing thing. 

So whether you've been along for the ride of the past 231 posts or are just joining us here on Optimal Optimist, I invite you to stay for another year of inspiration. I hope I can continue to share with you new quotes and stories about positivity, and I hope and encourage you to share them with your friends, family, and most importantly, with yourself every time you see that a little "pick-me-up" is needed. 

Thank you again for your support of Optimal Optimist (it is you who helped make this a success!) and I look forward to continuing our path of positivity together!

Take a look back at where it all started a year ago- read some of my favorite posts and scroll through the blog archives! And as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts, stories, comments, and suggestions, so please feel free to stay in touch and contact me through the OO Facebook page or email

Keep Smiling,

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cut the Worries!

Photo: Google

Hello Optimists,

I read an interesting article the other day about worrying. Not normally the topic at the top of my reading list, but it seemed interesting nonetheless. The article explained what worrying is, why we do it, and then offered some advice about how to just cool it and worry a bit less. Easier said than done, I suppose. But we all know those who worry incessantly about things that don't even need to be worried about, whose minds are consumed with the worries of "what ifs" and the thoughts of the most horrible things that can go wrong in any situation.

Now, there are times when worrying is completely justified and appropriate, and I think a bit of worrying is healthy- it keeps us on our toes and keeps our attention at its peak. But those times should be reserved for things that really warrant worry and in situations that we can actually control. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that as Optimists, we have a bit of an advantage over the average Worrier. The more we think positively, the less we will worry about the things that go on in our every day lives, and the more we can enjoy our presence in the day.

I thought today's featured quote would be just perfect for this topic and I hope you do too.
Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.  ~Leo Buscaglia
Ah, so true. It's important to keep this in mind and recite it every time we are feeling a bit anxious. Chances are we just need to hear that little soothing voice inside of our heads to calm us down a bit, and we'll be feeling better in no time. We've got to be able to take pleasure in the joys in our life right now, because they may not be around tomorrow.  Worrying only takes this ability away from us.

So let's make a promise to think positively and work on cutting out some of our worries. I bet that we will soon notice a renewed joy in our lives and be able to better enjoy the little things that life has to offer us.

Keep Smiling,

DON'T FORGET: My next post is a very exciting one! Be sure to check back on Wednesday to hear the news...