"Two men look out through the same bars: One sees the mud, and one sees the stars." ----Frederick Langbridge, A Cluster of Quiet Thoughts
Intriguing fact: Utilizing brain-scans, researchers have confirmed that the brains of optimistic people actually 'light up' in their own unique way when contemplating the future.
Optimists have an open-door policy whenever they're faced with obstacles. They assume if they keep looking, they'll find an open door and cruise on through. Pessimistic souls don't bother. They have adopted a helpless and hopeless attitude, simply assuming the doors are all closed. Yikes!
"An optimist is the human personification of spring." ~Susan J. Bissonette
Now being an optimist doesn't mean ignoring reality. We don't draw chalk on the wall and pretend it's a door! We know there's always an open door somewhere, as long as we keep looking. For every problem there is a solution. In fact, often it's the problems that push us to move beyond our stagnation into a new perspective, leading to even greater success.
"Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it." –Oprah Winfrey
However, there's no denying that optimism can be hard to manifest if your experience tends to reinforce the opposite of what you desire. This is why visualization is a such a powerful tool for writers. I mean, really, after a few rejections, how easy is it to plaster a smile on your face and bask in an optimistic glow? Your experience suggests failure while your inner optimism is claiming success is always possible. Which side do you believe? Is optimism idealistic or unrealistic?
"Optimism is the foundation of courage." ~Nicholas Murray Butler
"Some people are so fond of ill-luck that they run half-way to meet it."~Douglas Jerrold, Meeting Troubles Half-Way, 1859
"If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears. I should beg night and day and never be satisfied. I should sit apart in awful solitude, a prey to fear and despair. But since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation." –Helen Keller
Experience is based on memories. Yet memories are mutable. Which is why a friend's perspective can be so useful. Throw a different view in and suddenly an experience that seemed utterly horrific at the time, now sparks fits of giggles. Many a satirical writer has found the 'funny-bone' in the most trying of circumstances. Some writers, Erma Brombeck on one side of the scale and Larry David on the other, have made a mighty fine living seeking out the humor tucked within the disaster.
So, how does this affect us? Just like this: The memories we cling to form the foundation of our expectation. So, putting our past into a positive light helps us to look for the positive in the future. Now, here's something to consider. When you form a picture in your mind—whether it's positive or negative—you're creating a "future memory."
Psychology tells us that, based on past history people create comfort zones to revisit again and again. If, for example, your childhood was stressful, you might be drawn to stressful circumstances because that is what is familiar and comfortable to you.
Comfort zones, future memories and optimism. How does it all tie together?
The simple truth is we can create new comfort zones. How? We are writers, people! Just as we write stories for our fictional characters, we write our own story where we are the lead characters.
I am a successful, published writer.
Visualize your success and you are creating a future memory. This 'memory' creates a foundation which generates optimism. With the power of visualization, we can create a powerful future memory that creates a new and improved comfort zone that we are then automatically drawn to.
If we are thirsty, we reach for a cold drink without thinking. It's a reflex. In a social situation, a person might smile easily at strangers or duck back into the shadows depending on the emotional 'comfort zone'. This also is a reflex. Again, these comfort zones are created based on personal experience or are a result of conditioning from our background. Yet there are many successful people who once were shy and now shine. Why? Because they changed their comfort zone by creating 'future memories' which are nothing more than basic visualizations.
"I found that when you start thinking and saying what you really want then your mind automatically shifts and pulls you in that direction. And sometimes it can be that simple, just a little twist in vocabulary that illustrates your attitude and philosophy." –Jim Rohn
"Optimists are right. So are pessimists. It's up to you to choose which you will be." --Harvey Mackay
One simple truth stands out, you will unconsciously be drawn to experiences that reflect the picture in your mind. If we dwell on misery or ill fortune, our subconscious dispassionately notes this as a direction to move toward. If we focus on success and good fortune, our inner compass adjusts dramatically.
Truth is, this amazing manifesting tool is rarely utilized properly because only a lucky few stumble upon these fundamental 'secrets of success'. Yet hundreds of books are written by people who have discovered on their own that believing in success can create success. Ironically, a pessimist is more likely to believe ill-fortune is inevitable while completely missing the stark fact that one can just as easily believe the same about success.
"Believe it is possible to solve your problem. Tremendous things happen to the believer. So believe the answer will come. It will." --Norman Vincent Peale
When I was a child, my mind was cluttered with many unhealthy beliefs. I believed I was unattractive and unlovable, and people responded to me based on those beliefs. Ah-hah, my inner self declared, proof positive that I AM these things that I believe!
In my teens, thanks to a mother who returned to college to study psychology, I began to read books like Psycho-cybernetics and The Power of Positive Thinking. Slowly my beliefs began to change and as a result, my reality began to reflect these new beliefs. I began to consider how often I scowled at others, fearing and expecting their rejection. How might I react if a stranger scowled at me? The realization that I might have been turning away from the smiles and seeking out the frowns to support my beliefs was a revelation. The realization that I could create a new 'comfort zone' changed my life.
"Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." –J. K. Rowling
However, it's not as easy as flipping a switch. They say it takes more muscles to frown than to smile and yet so many of us frown easily. There is something comforting about believing in ill-fortune for it takes the responsibility of success neatly out of our hands. Well, I say, Phooey to that! Let's grab hold of our destiny and create the future we most desire.
"As your faith is strengthened you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit." –Emmanuel Teney
Let's grab hold of this next week and shape it to suit our needs. Set goals that keep us on the right track. Visualize the completion of our goals—both minor and major. I Am A Successful, Published Author.
As Captain Picard would say, "Make it so!"
Here's to a productive, positive, successful week.
Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between the Lines.