Chew On It – Choosing Optimism

I’m heading into the big six-o this year, and despite adversities, I remain an optimist. Life is far brighter and more enjoyable this way.

This time last year, I mentioned that each year brings good times and bad times and that it’s important to enjoy the good times and, when you’re experiencing bad times, to work your way out of them as quickly as possible.

A few people felt that I was being negative, but I can assure you that was not the intention. My writing is based on my life experiences and while I have endured devastating grief, trauma and severe adversity, I have remained a pragmatic optimist and I am fully aware of the joy of life. Incidentally, I believe that the key to a joyful life is developing a positive attitude and a survivor mindset.

My Chinese name translates literally to ‘Blue Sky’, so my parents must have had an inkling of my mindset. Maintaining a positive mindset, however, takes work and often until it becomes a habit, it’s a daily choice.

Ultimately, I would advise focusing on contentment – constantly appreciating all the positives and privileges instead of being envious of what you don’t have – as chasing happiness is futile. Happiness is a fleeting emotion; it is a natural high, which is unsustainable. Contentment on the other hand can be a constant state of mind and is an absolute spiritual joy.

All of us will experience grief and adversities at some point in life. And when that happens, it’s natural to feel sorry for yourself – with good reason to feel that way. But if you choose to stay in that state, your life will be miserable, and this will affect those closest to you.

To survive and thrive in difficult times, you need to accept the situation, take control, seek support and work towards a desirable outcome. This is not an easy task and you’ll need to work on small steps at a time, but the result will be worth it. There’s also no need to do this on your own – you can seek help.

For me, being a survivor means developing the right state of mind and being tenacious in your pursuit of it, even when there are setbacks, as there will be setbacks; it means realising that this is the only chance at life that we have; and it means being resilient and appreciating the many wonders of life. As for those adversities that are permanent, it is about accepting and living with the pain and at the same time choosing to see the beauty and joy of life.

I’m often reminded of these two quotes by Helen Keller, who led a rich life even though she was deaf and blind:

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

Here’s to 2018 being the start of (or the continuation of) your amazing and wonderful life filled with great joy and richness.