As a child, I was a temperamentally positive person, full of imagination, curiosity, and pluck.
In 2009, I fell off a ladder and fractured my back.
I did no permanent damage to my body, but I had several months of healing to endure. I also realized that my life wasn’t working for me. An injury can often teach a person to stop and evaluate their life.
Towards the end of my recovery, I participated in a yoga retreat out in the foothills of Santa Barbara, where I live. One woman there, Joan, really stood out. She was about my age, completely bald, and had just completed chemotherapy as a treatment for leukemia. But her shiny head was not what impressed me. I was fascinated by Joan because she was the most positive, wholehearted person I had ever encountered.
If you asked her how she was doing, her answer was invariably “GREAT!” She was happy, generous with her smiles, and showed up with every ounce of her being in every single interaction. I had never met anyone so present. While her life circumstances looked objectively terrible – she was recovering from cancer, had no body hair, no job, lived alone in a remodeled garage, and was basically broke – she was alive and she was vibrant. I found her irresistible, and we became friends.
I was self-reflective enough to recognize that Joan embodied something I did not. Up until this point, I was dissatisfied in my life. Joan, on the other hand, embodied joy and held nothing of herself back. I wanted that sort of freedom but had no idea at first how to achieve it. So I started small.
At first, I just smiled more and tried to stay mindful about being grateful for everything I had instead of getting sidetracked by what was missing in my life.
Now when I was asked how I was doing, I replied, “Great!” with a smile – more often than not. And I did feel better. It took some time, but a year later, I had a different job that I loved and I had started to lose my insecurity about standing out. After about 2 years, I had fallen in love with someone and found a level of commitment that I had not thought possible for me. Now, a decade on, I feel stronger, more positive, and more empowered every day.
In case you were wondering, Joan is also thriving. She’s moved away to become a park ranger in a National Park; she works with people, climbing rocks, practicing gratitude, spreading joy.
Optimism is contagious and Joan’s positivity changed my life.
Now I am on a mission to help change other people’s lives by showing up as a solutions-oriented Optimist. I do not shy away from problems, nor do I pretend that my life is all flowers and rainbows, but I am committed to staying in a grateful and positive mind frame.
It can be a challenge to stay optimistic when the headlines constantly focus on the negative happenings around the world, and every story is spun in the most sensational manner.
That’s where the Optimist Daily fits in. We are here to remind all of our readers that there are more solutions than there are problems in the world. We sift through the news and bring those positive, solution-oriented stories to the forefront so our readers can stay connected to what’s going right. If there are enough of us pulling in a positive direction, the whole world will change.
I believe that the Optimist Daily is one of my biggest opportunities to help share this message. And I’m hoping you’ll also help me spread the good news, and share positivity and the Optimist Daily in your life as well.
Chief Content Officer
The Optimist Daily
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