“The hopeful person sees success where others see failure, sunshine where others see shadows and storm.” ~ Orison Swett Marden, The Optimistic Life …
Hope is a very powerful feeling to have. It can carry us through difficulties and hardships that seem impossible. It can provide nourishment to our souls and give us purpose and meaning when there seems to be none. Hope is not just some ephemeral emotion… it is a deeply felt neurochemical stance that our minds take toward our current circumstances. Perhaps it is most beautifully explained through the words of Emily Dickenson, when she referred to it as “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.”
It bothers me when I hear people referring to hope in negative ways–putting others down for trusting and believing in something, referring to situations in life as hopeless, or complaining about how difficult life can be. Such attitudes are a waste of potential, and simply go on to negatively affect the experiences of everyone in the pond. Even through the many challenges and difficulties we are faced with in life, we all have the ability to be hopeful, for such obstacles are simply things to be overcome, not things that should leave us hopeless and depressed–it is a matter of choice that determines our attitude towards the difficulties we see and feel in situations. We choose to be miserable by focusing on the shadows and the storms, or we choose to be joyful and happy by focusing on the sunshine.
It is important to note that Orison is not saying that we must constantly have a cheerful and bright attitude either. If we are unhappy, we should allow ourselves to express those internal feelings. Hiding away our anguish and frustration only serves to bring us confusion and more misery. Instead, he is encouraging us to not focus on those negative feelings and emotions once they have had their time, and instead, allow the positive feelings to dominate our attitude.
Hope can leave us happy and fulfilled in life. However, we must choose to allow it into our lives and our hearts. When problems arise we must not become miserable, we must look for the silver lining and find the sunshine. As we do this more and more, we will begin to find it easy to discover and focus on the positives in every negative, and little by little, become the hopeful person that Orison is speaking of here.
Look for the silver lining in any of the difficulties that you are experiencing.
Questions to consider:
Were you brought up to see the sunshine, or the shadows? Who were your teachers? Were they happy, fulfilled people?
How might we learn to look for the brightness when it seems that there is none to be seen?
Why do so many people make fun of optimists and speak negatively about them?
For further thought:
“In this world, the optimists have it, not because they are always right, but because they are positive. Even when they are wrong they are positive, and that is the way of achievement, correction, improvement, and success. Educated, eye-open optimism pays.” ~ David Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations