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By David Harder on November, 15, 2013

End the confusion between hope and optimism

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”

 Vaclav Havel

I believe in optimism and do not believe in hope. In my own life, hope has simply been an irritant. On the other hand, optimism is an action-based state of mind. Optimism is not a passive state. To become a real and practical force in our lives, optimism requires practice. The need for such a practice might seem counter-intuitive in our culture.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been swept away by the many articles and Television programs commemorating the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Virtually anyone over the age of 55 remembered where they were, what they were doing and as they shared their memories tears poured out – half a century later.

For baby boomers, that event was like a giant lever moving our culture from unbridled optimism to abject cynicism. All of the unanswerable questions only heightened the fixation on the fact that a punk brought down the most charismatic leader we might have ever had.

I believe that all of us passed that wound on to others, especially in the children we raised.

Remembering the schism that happened to our country, I have developed a healthy respect for the contempt and cynicism that infiltrates our culture.

In the years since other generations witnessed Watergate, 9/11 and the economic 9/11 of October 2008 – the value of optimism only grows.

A few years ago, I was ushered into a studio executive’s office. She was spectacularly beautiful and opened our conversation with, “Welcome! You are my solution!”

I laughed so hard. “Why am I your solution? You don’t know me!”

“Have you watched The Secret?”

“The solution to all of our problems passed down through thousands of years for only $29.95?”

“That’s the one! I watched it this weekend and practiced the exercises. I actually wrote that someone would walk in my door with the answers to my problems.”

We did create miracles together. But consider this: Her enthusiasm and clarity fueled those breakthroughs.

Optimism is a choice. It is a way of life. Investing in that state-of-mind can take just a few minutes a day.

All of us have the capacity to choose our outlook.

In the weeks ahead, I will be writing about the practice of optimism. We will also feature a teleconference in how to use the law of attraction in a practical way.  In the interim, here are a few suggestions in how to build and develop optimism as a foundation to our lives:

  • Commit to a mission, vision and purpose that is greater than ourselves 
  • Shift our energy from living with the problem to focusing on the solution
  • If you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, consider upping the average

All the best