Jim Denison on How Can We Become More Optimistic?

Residents in Olten, Switzerland, woke up Friday morning in a town coated in chocolate powder. A resident tweeted in response: “Finally 2020 delivers!”

There was a defect in the cooling ventilation for a line of roasted cocoa in the Lindt & Sprüngli factory. High winds combined with this ventilation error resulted in the spread of chocolate powder across the area. Local residents were suitably grateful.

Here’s another headline that caught my eye: “Texas Teenagers Dressed as Superheroes Visit Kids While Collecting Food Donations.” Twin eighteen-year-old brothers in Pearland, Texas (south of Houston) have been visiting children in their area while wearing Spider-Man costumes. They have visited about three hundred homes so far and donated 4,500 pounds of food.

Consider one more example of good news in the news: a church in Brownsville, Texas, has been providing food to hundreds of vulnerable families and individuals each week during the coronavirus pandemic. The church averages sixty in attendance, but its crucial ministry proves that a small light is powerfully visible in a dark room (cf. Matthew 5:16).

The power and pathway of optimism 

I was motivated to cite these positive stories by an article in the Washington Post titled, “Why Some People Are More Optimistic than Others—and Why It Matters.” The article cites studies indicating that people who are more optimistic have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. They are less likely to have heart attacks or strokes and are less likely to die from cardiovascular-related issues.

The reason: optimistic people tend to engage in healthier behaviors such as eating fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, and not smoking. Optimism has also been linked to happy romantic relationships, fewer sick days, lower levels of pain, and a reduced likelihood of becoming cognitively impaired. In addition, optimistic people tend to work harder, expect to retire later, and save more money.

So, here’s the question: How can we become more optimistic?

One answer is to hope for things to change. Like the residents of Olten, we might wake up one day to a chocolate shower, metaphorically speaking.

A better answer is to be the change we want to see in the world. If children need food and encouragement, put on a Spider-Man costume (so to speak) and visit them. Like the church in Brownsville, decide to make a difference in the world that is much larger than your place in the world.

You will begin to see the world you want to see. You will be optimistic about tomorrow, because you are building it today.

As leadership expert Peter Drucker noted, “You cannot predict the future, but you can create it.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison