From bad to worse?

As I watched some of the special programming on television recently; I must admit I was overwhelmed.  As the evening progressed, and they summarized all of the bad news affecting this nation, it became depressing.  After they outlined all the bad news, they turned their focus on the tragic news.  It seems that just as things should improve…more bad news!  Month after month leads to year after year…when will things change?

Of course the time frame to which I am referring is 1861-1865.  These were the years of the bloodiest war in the history of the United States.  In one battle, in a matter of seven minutes, seven thousand soldiers were killed.  Entire cities were destroyed, wiped from the face of the earth. Thousands were left homeless and penniless.  And just as the war ended and things were looking up, the President of United States was assassinated.  Many could not help but wonder if the United States would survive.

We too are witnessing a difficult period of time in history, and this can affect you and your attitude; the key word here is can.

As difficult as it is, I believe there is good reason to grab hold of optimism.  First to clarify, optimism does not mean ignoring reality, nor does it mean trying to put a positive spin on something for the sake of optimism.  Optimism is the understanding and acceptance of the reality of situation and realizing that we have a choice of how to respond.  A negative response to a negative situation will not help.  In fact, it will likely make you and those around you feel even more hopeless.  People that feel hopeless are less productive, which leads to more negativity.

Truly optimistic people don’t try to fool themselves when confronted with a challenge; they just choose to believe that they will find a solution, regardless of the number of setbacks.  And each time they do find a solution, they put more “legs” under their optimistic way of living.  In fact, by remaining optimistic, you increase creativity and productivity.

Optimistic people look at situations and rather than saying “poor me, what a horrible situation this is” they say, “there must be a solution…”  When you have this attitude, you are more willing to try new things, think and act outside of your comfort zone because you know the answer is out there, you just have to find it.

Just as optimism can be self-fulfilling, so can pessimism.  If you don’t believe there is any solution, you don’t try.  When you don’t try, obviously you don’t find any answers, which only validate a defeatist way of thinking.  Pessimism leaves you feeling hopeless, depressed and eventually sick.  You wear this downcast expression on your face and everyone sees it.

John Maxwell has an excellent book, “Developing the Leader within You.”  In this book, Maxwell points out that the battle for the mind to remain positive is never over.  He also points out that it’s not motivation – it’s just a matter of being responsible for your attitude.  Motivation is a by-product; you work hard, you believe you will find a solution, and guess what? Motivation happens.

Bad news, difficult times, and challenges in life are a normal part of living.  Stop sulking and stop blaming the world for dumping on you.  The difference between success and failure isn’t so much circumstance in life as it is the attitude we choose to adopt.

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