Optimism is not an easy idea for most people to understand. It is often dismissed as false hope or wishful thinking; reserved for the weak and foolish. But in actual sense it takes courage and strength of character to practice optimism.
Billionaire Bill gates says it so aptly: “Optimism is often dismissed as false hope. But there is also false hopelessness. That’s the attitude that says we can’t defeat poverty and disease. We absolutely can.”
“But we want to make the strongest case we can for the power of optimism. Even in dire situations, optimism can fuel innovation and lead to new tools to eliminate suffering. But if you never really see the people who are suffering, your optimism can’t help them. You will never change their world.”
“If our optimism doesn’t address the problems that affect so many of our fellow human beings, then our optimism needs more empathy. If empathy channeled our optimism, we would see the poverty and the disease and the poor schools, we would answer with our innovations, and we would surprise the pessimists.”
Optimism is about more than feeling good; it’s about being engaged with a meaningful life, developing resilience, and feeling in control. This dovetails nicely with psychological research showing that the benefits of optimism come from the ability to accept the good along with the bad, and being prepared to work creatively and persistently to get what you want out of life. Optimistic realists, whom I consider to be the true optimists, don’t believe that good things will come if they simply think happy thoughts. Instead, they believe at a very deep level that they have some control over their own destinies,” writes University of Oxford research professor Elaine Fox.
So for today, dare to be optimistic, dare to believe that something good is going to happen; that your life will always be tinged by God’s grace.