We have every reason to be optimistic in this world. Tragedy is around, yes. Problems everywhere, yes. … You can’t, you don’t, build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen.  – President  Hinckley

“Hello, Hello, Hello.  What a marvelous day!  I am what I am, what a great thing to be, if I say so  myself, happy everyday to me.”  If you knew my grandma, these may have been some of the first things you heard her say.  She had a presence about her that would cheer up anyone she came across.  She was positive, outgoing, and the center of attention.  She would walk around handing out golden opportunities (werther) and telling everyone how great life was.

John 16:33– In the World ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

My grandma’s life was not without tribulation.  In fact it was full of it.  Since she was a young girl she did not have a stable family life or any material possessions.  She got married and had 14 kids.  With a meager income they struggled to raise this family.  She was a goer and a doer and I think she worked hard every day of her life.  There was chaos, abuse, and emotional instability.   But somehow she had this almost unrealistic optimism about her.  I call it her shield.  Life is what you make of it.  This is how she handled all the hurt and disappointments.  Through her example I did learn 3  incredible lessons about the power of optimism.

  • Optimism is a choice:

I love the image of this story told by Elder Bruce D Porter:

One cold, wintry day, another friend of mine, Tom, was walking across the university campus. It was only 7:00 in the morning, and the campus was deserted and dark. Heavy snow was falling, with a brisk wind. “What miserable weather,” Tom thought. He walked farther, and out in the darkness and snow, he heard someone singing.

Sure enough, through the driving snow came our ever-optimistic friend, Bruce. With his arms outstretched to the sky, he was singing a number from the Broadway musical Oklahoma: “Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I’ve got a beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way.”

Life is so much more enjoyable if your hands are stretched to the sky singing, rather than looking down being a grump.  We can choose to be an optimist.  Here is a list of things we can consciously do to help us look for the better in the world:

I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we “accentuate the positive.” I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort. I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. Strength comes of repentance. Wise is the man who can acknowledge mistakes pointed out by others and change his course.

What I am suggesting is that each of us turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears. – President Gordon B Hinckley

Love it.  Choose to look for the good in others and life will start cheering up.

  • Optimism and Hope go hand in hand

Hope for the good things of the future.  Hope that good and right will prevail.  Hope that no matter how hard your struggle, it will pass.  Hope in all that Christ has promised us.  This Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness. 

Hope is a gift of the Spirit.  It is a hope that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power of His Resurrection, we shall be raised unto life eternal and this because of our faith in the Savior.  This kind of hope is both a principle of promise as well as a commandment,  and, as with all commandments, we have the responsibility to make it an active part of our lives and overcome the temptation to lose hope.  Hope in our Heavenly Father’s merciful plan of happiness leads to peace,  mercy,  rejoicing, and gladness.  The hope of salvation is like a protective helmet;  it is the foundation of our faith  and an anchor to our souls.- Elder Wirthlin (Sunday Will Come)

If we let hope fill us, and reject the adversary who is trying to fill us with despair, we will be optimistic.  We will look to Christ and His promises to us.

Optimism makes life Happy:

My dad had a way of making life exciting.  He always used words like, FANTASTIC, and WONDERFUL to describe something we had done.  He said, “thanks for saying thanks”  and “I knew you could do it.”  It was never just Monday.  It was Marvelous Monday, Terrific Tuesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Thrilling Thursday, Fantastic Friday and Super Saturday.

When he woke us up in the morning for family breakfast and scripture study instead of lectures or cold water he would use love.  He would say, “I have a kiss from your handsome prince.”  At that age none of us wanted a kiss from dad so we would all jump out of bed before he could catch us.

Sometimes he would put 20 minutes on the clock in the kitchen designated for us to work.  He would push us and get us moving during that 20 minutes of clean up.  But he would tell us that as soon as that timer went off we would all be in trouble if we were caught working.  We could not work one second longer than 20 min.  After that, it was time to play together.  That was just as important.

He was a true optimist.  Always seeing the good in others and helping them see their potential.  He changed lives by sharing his love for life and optimism with others.  His life was all about serving others.

I think my grandma made a choice everyday to be optimistic about her life.  I think she understood hope in Jesus Christ and tried to follow Him.  I think she tried to make life happier by being an optimist.  I hope to wear the same shield she did when challenges enter my life.

 Hope… is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with a brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear.  –Elder Uchkdorf