September 23, 2019

BY JOSEPH WEPPLER

Charlie Chaplin once said, “You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.” But is it necessary to spend every day of your life looking for a rainbow?

From the Latin word “optimum” meaning “best,” to be optimistic is to hope for and expect the better option. Optimists believe that, in any given situation, the greatest possible outcome will be the one that occurs. Optimism is a powerful code that many people strive to live by.

Dr. Tali Sharot, a neuroscientist from New York University, is known for her research on optimism. Her book, The Optimism Bias, explores why she not only believes that our brains are hardwired to look on the bright side of things, but also why that can be dangerous.

When an optimist meets a sour situation, they grin and bear it and hope for the best. But what happens if the best outcome doesn’t occur, when you don’t just have a bad day, but a bad week?
In the real world, where no one has control over their emotions, sometimes it’s OK to just feel bad. You’re allowed to have a bad day, despite any privileges you might have.

The power of optimism doesn’t come from your ability to maintain it, no matter what happens. Instead it comes from your resiliency and determination to bounce back after an imperfect day. The power of optimism is in the return, not the maintenance.

So next time someone tells you that everything happens for a reason, or they tilt their head and say, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened,” feel free to ignore them. Take a day to feel like trash. Take a week to wallow in your own misery.

Then, when you’ve finished falling apart, simply pull yourself together again. It might seem hard, it might even seem impossible. But when you’re a little broken, no one knows better than you how you’re supposed to look when you’re fixed. And maybe you don’t want to look the same way. Maybe you take your broken pieces and you craft yourself into something new.

It isn’t just your decision, but your right as the one in control of your life.

It’s important that you don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t be happy. But it’s just as important that you don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be sad.

Charlie Chaplin once said, “I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying.” But you don’t have to be ashamed of your tears. And then, once you’re all cried out, stand tall and heft that standard of optimism once more.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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