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CoronaVirus Through the Lens of an Optimist

Tim Watson-Munro, Psychologist

"Right now, as never in our lifetimes, we need to remain optimistic."

Dr Natalie Dattilo, Clinical Psychologist

"We have a choice in how we think about any situation we face. Even if you weren’t born an optimist, you can still learn to think like one. “Radical optimism” is the notion that there’s an upside to everything. Even a global pandemic and worldwide health crisis."

“Radical Optimism:” Staying Calm and Hopeful During Times of Stress and Uncertainty

Jim Greenwood, President and CEO, Bio

"As tragic and frightening the COVID-19 is, I am optimistic that America’s world-leading biotechnology companies will develop therapeutics and vaccines at record speed."

George Donikian, Chairman at Football Nation Radio

"This global emergency has caused much upheaval but it’s important to remember that we the people behave properly and support others in doing so we can and we will get through this turmoil together. Once the pandemic passes and the disruption passes, it’ll be time to hit the reset button, as a new era of humanity will beckon."

Dr Steve Moffic, Psychiatrist

"Optimism is essential for mental well-being in a crisis that needs action."

AN OPTIMISTIC ODE TO FUTURE JOY IN THE PRESENT SORROWS OF THE PANDEMIC

Professor Natasha Crowcroft

"Science moves forward. We have governments that recognize what's going on. These governments are taking this seriously, so I think it's right to be optimistic."

'We're right to be optimistic,' says epidemiologist about search for COVID-19 vaccine

Georgie Crozier, Shadow Minister for Health in Victoria, Australia

"What makes me optimistic is that during this emergency health crisis that is affecting the world,  scientists in Australia believe they are close to making a breakthrough, that will then lead to developing a vaccine that will assist in combatting COVID-19. When that happens, it will be a tremendous moment for us all."

Winnie Hart, Entrepreneurs Organisation

Remain as optimistic as possible. How you show up in a crisis has a significant impact. Positive thoughts and actions focus on strengths, successes, opportunities and collaboration. Leaders radiate trust, hope and optimism that leads to positive energy, confidence and purpose.

John Horgan in "Optimism in a Dark Time"

"Optimism in a time like this is crucial. As with climate change and war, we need to be realistic, to face the problem squarely, while resisting fear and fatalism. We need to retain our faith that human intelligence and decency will prevail.


Philip Grutzner, Headmaster, Melbourne Grammar School

"We only had a few weeks to plan for off-campus learning. I am pleased with how well so many teachers and students adapted to the new approach. I have seen resilience, flexibility and kindness in action every day, and this has made me most optimistic that we will collectively rise above the challenges before us." 

Rosemary Goring

"Optimism seems to me as essential a commodity as antibacterial gel. Along with paracetamol and ventilators, it’s a vital weapon in this global duel. If ever there was a time to abandon innate miserabilism, our “touch wood” and “if God spares us” attitude, this is it. Cynics mock those who take a deliberately cheerful tone when things are tough, and there are few more stinging insults than to be sneered at as a “Pollyanna”. Yet Eleanor H Porter’s 1913 novel, where she introduced this lovable child, who “played the glad game”, struck a chord with many. It goes without saying that those who have tried to emulate Pollyanna’s habit of looking for the up-side in any situation usually come from circumstances where it takes real strength of character not to sink into self-pity.

"True optimism is not a way of avoiding the facts – the word for that is denial. For some, being bright and positive comes naturally. They are the rubber ducks amongst us, bobbing to the surface instantly after they’ve been pushed under. For others, banishing gloom requires some policing, constantly shoring up the weak places in our mental bulwark and escorting middle-of-the-night trepidation firmly out of the door. In an emergency like this, however, it seems to me that optimism is almost obligatory. As well as not passing on germs, we should avoid spreading dread. Otherwise, we risk sliding into a morass of misery, and triggering a collective national breakdown. Is that going to happen? Don’t make me laugh."

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

"There must be room for faith and optimism at this time...the kind of faith that believes, as Moses commands in the Book of Deuteronomy, that “God will bless you in all that you do.” We must do. We must act. We must fight..."fear will weaken, rather than embolden, our resolve. It will undermine our health. Depression will sap our energy and make us partially give up. But faith, optimism and hope will compel us to do the right thing in a time when exercising wise judgment is the difference between life and death."

Russell M Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints speaking about coronavirus

“These unique challenges will pass in time. I remain optimistic for the future."


Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine

"Entrepreneurs make me optimistic. They already have many of the mental tools required to get through this. They already know that change is inevitable, and that old plans have to be scrapped, and that today's successes do not guarantee tomorrow's survival. That's why, as soon as this crisis started, they began focusing on solutions—and I believe they'll build a better world as a result."

Brian Rosner

"Bonhoeffer’s advice to us would be to focus on what really matters, stay cheerful, embrace optimism, compare yourself with those less fortunate, and walk through your disappointments with God."

Coping with coronavirus disappointments: Five lessons from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Josie McLean


"If ever we need optimism, it feels that now is the time." 

The Wolf-Tasker family and the Lake House team 

The Uplifting Power of Optimism

We are optimistic for the future, the resilience of humanity and strong in the belief that this is a temporary crisis that will be vanquished.

Ragini Prasad

"If we look back over history we have always thrived after some major world event and this won't be the exception. Just a point in time that we as the resilient species we are will need to set a new course in how we live (and work)."

Daniel Sonesson, Head of Innovation, Coop

"In these dire times I find strength and gratitude towards that us people are a unified and loving force who cares deeply for our fellow citizen. All initiatives and passion for doing good is an evidence for how our collective care is a fundamental part of us. That tells me we’re going to get through this, as we always have, and we’ll come out stronger on the other side."

Danielle Robertson, Founder of DR Care Solutions

I believe that even In these very strange and unprecedented times, working as a community 'together' yet apart makes me optimistic. Thinking of our most vulnerable clients living alone at home or in residential care, isolated from the rest of the world, their families, their friends, their loved ones - I know that we will get through this difficult time.

Our older Australians have lived through wars, recessions and the Great Depression yet they helped to make Australia a rich and wonderful place to live. It's our time now to ensure they get the care, support, love and companionship they deserve.

Check on people to ensure they are ok, pay forward random acts of kindness. I believe we will all be a better society coming out of this difficult period. Stay at home, stay well, do what health authorities recommend - we can beat this!


Simran Jeet Singh

While I see the pandemic as a disruptive force, I also try to see it through the rose-colored prism of chardi kala, the Sikh teaching of ever-rising optimism. Sikh wisdom offers chardi kala as an antidote to suffering. We all encounter various difficulties in life, and we can’t control everything that comes our way. But we can always choose how we perceive these events — and it’s far more empowering and inspiring to find the silver linings in the difficulties we experience.

It’s not an easy practice, especially in times like these. But engaging chardi kala has helped me in a number of ways throughout my life: to see the humanity of those who hate people who look like me (or who look different at all), to find goodness in moments of darkness and to find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.

Employing the outlook of chardi kala, I have tried to view this moment as something more than a deadly and inconvenient disruption. And over the past week, I have come to see it as a helpful intervention.

Sikhism and Optimism

‘Queenie’ van de Zandt, Comedienne

"What makes me optimistic - the idea that Necessity is the mother of all invention. And the idea we see in nature - the sand is what makes the pearl. Through adversity we will come out stronger."

Geoff Gourley, Chairman, Impact Investment Fund

"Remaining optimistic during challenging times can unlock exciting social innovations for positive impact."

Ron Gauci, CEO, AIIA

"During previous global crises, we relied on professions that were more clearly distinguishable. Today the ‘team’ looks significantly different, all playing a significant part in the solution chain. COVID-19 has shown that today essential services might also include those scientists who are trying to find a vaccine and a cure, supported by the data analysts who are providing the testing tools in data centres that make it accessible to those that need it and research information supported by the coding specialists who are creating the systems that provide for the analysis.

"Today’s ecosystem of essential service agents or practitioners is far more complex and encompassing than ever before. As we learned from the recent bushfires and now COVID-19, the coming together of “team”, physical or virtual, across many industries & skills, can lead to powerful outcomes. The positive energy and optimistic leadership that this exudes to conquer this crisis is nothing short of inspirational."

Shawn Callahan

"I’m not being Pollyanna or popping on my rose-coloured glasses. This storytelling tip in this time of COVID-19 is informed by well-worn psychological research. It turns out when things are unclear and uncertain humans look to see what others are doing to guide their own actions. It’s called social proof (apologies for adding another ‘social’ to your week). So my tip is simple: share, extol, celebrate and praise stories of people doing the right thing. It’s the optimistic (and an effective) way to encourage change."

Dr. Adrian McCullagh

What makes me optimistic?  I am optimistic because I know that communications technology can be used to breakdown the tyranny of distance which means that group knowledge (multi-heads is better than one) is available in real time to solve most if not all problems.  In essence we are not alone even having social physical distancing.

Anthea Hargreaves, Bicycle Network

"Optimism is essential in this time of universal hardship. It's how we create, connect and find hope. Optimism makes us believe that tomorrow will and can be better."

Geoffrey Robertson QC

"Coronavirus took us by surprise and it has certainly added another element. But one thing that makes me optimistic about humankind is this counterfactual capacity for kindness. And I think that, in a way, coronavirus has spread that sense of carefulness and consideration for other people, which is the only way we’re going to survive it."

James Jay Carafano

"The research is pretty clear. Fear, misery, doubt and pessimism acerbate stress, cloud decision-making and weaken the immune system. In contrast, faith, optimism, and determination make us better able to handle tough times."

David Rothkopf

"Optimism is realism. That may be a hard concept to embrace in the middle of a rapidly worsening global pandemic and a crushing economic crisis. But history shows it is the right one."

Optimism and History

Ethan Blagg

"Let us not forget who we are; a species with a long track record of victories over great trials and tribulations. Amidst the dark shadows of tragedy, we must keep the flame of optimism burning bright."

Heather E. McGowan in  How The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Accelerating The Future Of Work

"These are scary times, to be sure, and we still have so much to sort out and work through. Yet, it is also an incredibly optimistic moment for the future of work for humans. The structural and moral decisions we are making now are a hopeful sign that humans will have a central role in the future of work and humanity. There is a great deal of uncertainty ahead and there is only one way through this; together. .... In my lifetime, we have made our greatest strides in improving the human condition in all of our documented history. We have lifted more people out of extreme poverty, massively expanded literacy, and in the short period of time we have had the Internet, we have connected more than half the globe. It is with this view I remain optimistic (and very thankful we have global connectivity right now)."

How The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Accelerating The Future Of Work

Robin Beres, Deputy Editor, Richmond Times-Dispatch

"Why am I an optimist? Because despite all the news reports of doom and gloom, the world is a good place and becoming better. Since the 1980s, globally, extreme poverty has declined from nearly 45% to less than 10%. Diseases and illnesses that were once considered death sentences are now easily managed. So will COVID-19 one day. Women across the world are going to school and participating in businesses. My motto is always to hope for the best while preparing for the worst."

Despite the challenges, American optimism will see us through this

Emily Esfahani Smith on Why cultivating “tragic optimism” will help us weather this crisis — and even grow from it.

"When researchers and clinicians look at who copes well in crisis and even grows through it, it’s not those who focus on pursuing happiness to feel better; it’s those who cultivate an attitude of tragic optimism.

"The term was coined by Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist from Vienna. Tragic optimism is the ability to maintain hope and find meaning in life despite its inescapable pain, loss and suffering.

"To understand how tragic optimism might serve us during the pandemic, it might help to recall how America responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. People reported increased feelings of fear, anxiety and hopelessness. These emotions were more debilitating for some than for others. To learn why, a group of researchers, led by Barbara Fredrickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studied the well-being of young adults in the weeks after the attacks. None of the students had lost loved ones on Sept. 11, but like the population at large, they reported feeling distressed. And yet, some of them were less likely to become depressed than others. What set those resilient students apart was their ability to find the good. Unlike the less resilient students, the resilient reported experiencing more positive emotions, like love and gratitude.

"But that didn’t mean they were Pollyannas. They did not deny the tragedy of what happened. In fact, they reported the same levels of sadness and stress as less resilient people. This finding comes up frequently in psychology research: In general, resilient people have intensely negative reactions to trauma. They experience despair and stress, and acknowledge the horror of what’s happening. But even in the darkest of places, they see glimmers of light, and this ultimately sustains them.

"But even more than helping them cope, adopting the spirit of tragic optimism enables people to actually grow through adversity."

California Governor Gavin Newsom recalling his Mother's Mantra

"She said, 'Stand guard at the door of your mind,'" 

"Honestly, it took me a decade-plus to figure out what she was ultimately saying. But she was focused on, more than anything else, our capacity to be resilient and to meet challenges head-on, our capacity as human beings to refocus our energies, a sense of purpose, and a sense of optimism and faith that will get through times of challenges — times like today."

Rabbi Jesse Paikin

“This is not the first Passover that has taken place in a moment of turbulence and uncertainty. Jews have always responded to moments of difficulty, strife, and depression, with optimism and hope. It’s a message at the core of the Passover holiday itself, a holiday that looks to the future with hope for redemption and freedom. It’s eerie how timely that message is right now.”

Passover Optimism

Richard Stengel

"as dark as it is at the moment, seems more like a tentative case for optimism and eventual renewal. One crisis led us astray; this one can lead us to a smarter future."

Poet Roger McGough

"A torrent of bad news overwhelms us, our brains cower and our eyes can see no further than the next doom-ridden headline. Other people’s bad news becomes ours, weighed down with empathy, we must opt for optimism. “Keeping your mind off things” is really part of the challenge, not only for the poet, but for us all."

"With yoga, you can stay active, and optimistic."

Grand Master Akshar advises "build your immune system by the practice of #yoga asanas, and meditation while boosting your mental health. Start your day early even during this time to maintain self-discipline in your life. With yoga, you can stay active, and #optimistic. A regular practice will also keep you away from over-exposure to Covid news, which can have a negative impact on your health. Combine these basic asanas, meditation techniques along with a nutritious diet to come out of this ordeal stronger, and healthier."

Yoga and Optimism

Dabo Swinney, Clemson head football coach  

“I just have always lived my life with optimism.  I think that God is bigger than this pandemic. I think He's gonna be glorified and shine through this in a mighty way.  He has the ability to stamp this thing out as quick as it rose up...

"The reason I have that optimism is because of 50 years of life and because of my faith in Jesus.  Over 2,000 years ago this weekend, the world was in a crisis. And I'm sure a lot of smart people didn't think that Jesus could come back to life. But He did. And this Sunday, we're gonna celebrate that.”

Barry Hooper MCIM FCIPS, Programme Director - COVID-19 DHSC & NHS E&I, Supply at British Department of Health and Social Care

"In response to COVID-19, I have seen great teamwork, self-sacrifice, resilience, dedication, commitment and bucket loads of optimism!"

Read More of "IACCM's Voices of Optimism"

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