“An optimist is someone who believes that a house fly is looking for a way to get out.” (George Gene Nathan)
The other day, when I wrote this post about optimism, I made myself a little sign. It has that day’s quote on it to remind me that I want to be more optimistic in my life. Since then I have looked at the sign every time I go near my desk at home and the quote reminds me that the attitude I want is a matter of my own choice. In today’s quote, the author tells me that I can choose to be upset that a common past has invaded my house, or I can seek to help it find its way home in the outdoors, by showing it the way out. Either way, I have to choose my attitude, and then I must act upon it.
Optimism is an attitude that I choose to have. I have the ability each day, and in each situation, to choose whether to have a positive outlook on things, or to be dour and down mouthed. Choosing that attitude is a necessary step, but it is only the first step. Choosing next to act because of the attitude I’ve chosen is what makes the real difference. The good news is that once I have the right attitude, the choices I make on how I will act will flow naturally.
When I am optimistic, I don’t just see the world through a more positive lens, I also act in a way that exudes hope and vitality. I approach problems with the idea that finding the solution is inevitable, and that I will solve them. I see situations for what they are with all the blemishes and warts, but I look past those and see what is good and positive. I choose a smile when I might otherwise choose a frown, not because I am ignoring reality but because I know I have the capability to overcome what might be wrong, and move forward.
House flies are a summertime pest. I have owned my share of swatters for eliminating them from my house and my camper. When there is one buzzing around, my initial thought is that it must be wiped out. Frequently there is some complaining on my part about who left the door or window open to let this pesky visitor in. The truth is probably that it just happened to buzz through when the door was open to let someone in or out. Choosing an attitude of optimism probably won’t turn me into a house fly humanitarian – I am sure I will still look to eliminate them when they come calling. But in choosing to have a better outlook, I will also choose to handle the pest more cheerfully.
In the few days since I made my sign, I have been actively looking to see things in a more positive light. The truth is that my pessimism habit is strong, and it takes conscious, daily, intentional effort to choose to see things from the positive side. In those hours and moments when I am successful, I enjoy my surroundings just a bit more. And, whether they know of my intent to be more optimistic or not, people around me react differently.
A new month has begun, and I am already 1/3 of the way through this project. There are days when the idea of writing 365 blog posts in one year seems quite daunting. I wonder how I will ever think of 365 thoughts worth sharing. But, with my newly enhanced sense of optimism, I look forward to the remaining 2/3 of the year with anxious anticipation. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!