A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
– Proverbs 17:22
“The sun will come out tomorrow!”
Little Orphan Annie
Optimism is a vital part of resilience. Without optimism it is difficult to move through tough time, particularly these past few months. I have been working from home since March 13, and my wife of 48 years and I still like each other at least 5 days out of the week.
How are you doing? Are you one of those folks who see the glass half-full or half-empty? Believe it or not, how you answer the question may reveal how resilient you are!
The word optimist has an ancient root system coming from the Latin word ‘optimim,’ meaning the best. Practical optimism is a mindset that helps individuals focus on the positive parts of life rather than the negative ones. It is a personality style that routinely displays resilience and personal strength.
Optimism is all about perspective, and it’s a vital part of resilience.
Here is a definition that I have embraced which comes from Dr. George Everly’s book Stronger (2015), a thought leader in Disaster Mental Health. “Personal resilience, or psychological body armor, is your ability to bounce back, pick yourself up, and try again until you succeed or decide on a more productive direction.”
As a general rule, optimists tend to cope better with adversity because they face it and, on a deep level, believe that they can rise to the challenge. One prominent person who comes to mind is Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991. He puts it this way, “Optimism and hope related to how we think and feel about the future. If we really believe that things will work out for the best, all setbacks become easier to deal with.
This can lead to a more vibrant faith that can find contentment and peace regardless of circumstances. The Apostle Paul said:
Not that I was ever in need, for I was never in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I have discovered the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty or little. I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
Think and pray
Optimism is not as much as disposition as it is a decision. It can be learned and enhanced. Not only has it been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress, it helps you practice self-compassion and encourage others.
Father, give me Your perspective on the things I’m dealing with in my life. Help me choose a positive attitude in my struggles, knowing that nothing I go through is beyond the reach of Your arm. I am safe in Your hands. Thank You! Amen.
John Thurman M.Div., M.A., is a Licensed Mental health Professional, Author, Speaker, and Certified Corporate Crisis Response Specialist who lives with his wife Angie in Albuquerque, NM. In addition, he is the Director of Covert Mercy Inc., a ministry that provides Stress Management Consulting and Training for ministry leaders and missionaries serving in the North Africa Middle East area. Learn more at JohnThurman.net