Menu
Log in
Log in

2020 Advent Calendar for Optimists

In the Centre for Optimism's first Advent Calendar, there's a new entry each day with a quotable quotes for optimists, bible verses for optimists in Advent and an activity.  Somedays there music and recipes too.  You may get your daily Advent reminder by email or whatsapp message or social media - email advent@centreforoptimism.com and let us know how you would like to receive it.  

Day 12 of the Advent Calendar for Optimists: Thursday 10 December 2020

Quotable Quote

Noirin Mosley, Project Optimism

Traditionally Christmas time has always afforded me the unofficial liberty to wish for all kinds of things for the year to come.

A chance to renew and refresh. A chance to rewrite the future and dream big.

It’s a hopeful, happy period and a mindset you wish to remain as you navigate deep into the year to come.

Really it translates into Hope and Optimism.

So for Christmas 2020, I wish everyone Hope and Optimism as we celebrate the year that was and dream big for the year to come!

Happy Christmas 😊🎄🎉

Bible Readings

Ephesians 5:18b-19:  “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”

Bible Verses for Optimists and Optimism

Recipe for Today: Homemade French Gingerbread Cake

by Amanda Noz

Artisan French Gingerbread Cake costs a fortune at the Christmas markets so I learned to make it. First year it was hard as a rock but I got better! The best year was when I had confit bitter oranges from the garden to lay on top.

Ingredients:250g of honey (the better the honey, the better the flavor), 250 g of flour (I like to mix 2/3 to 1/3 rye flour but plain is ok too), 11g of baking powder, 2 tsp of gingerbread spices, 2 eggs and 10 cl of milk.

Method: Mix the dry ingredients together, heat the honey and mix it in with a wooden spoon, add the beaten eggs and warmed milk, little by little, until blended together.

Put in a buttered and floured loaf tin and cook at 160C for 60-75 mins.

You can decorate it before cooking with glazed peel or you can chop the glazed fruit and mix it through.

Take out of tin when cold. If you think you might have a problem with it sticking to the tin, line the tin with baking paper. This also works beautifully in nordicware Christmas tins but you have to spray them so it comes out ok as you can't line them as they are shaped.

Activity for Today: Turn Down the bad News

For decades while in politics, I was fixed into a daily cycle of listening to the news and responding by way of press release and commentary.  While I was able to maintain my optimistic nature in the face of the pessimism of the daily news, it is undoubtedly a cause of pessimism, cynicism and even depression for many people.

As the President of Envision Kindness Dr David Fryburg said “Every day, people are exposed to negative images, stories, and experiences, We know that this exposure is stressful to the viewer—it causes anger, anxiety, depression, and can affect behavior, disconnecting people from one another.

Over the last 50 years, the news has become increasingly negative.  Most newsrooms operate under three principle editorial rules, “if it bleeds it leads,” “Bad News is Good News” and emphasise stories which sow “dissension, discord and disharmony.”  On television news, optimistic news is generally restricted to the fluffy animal story after the weather or during sports news.

The author Pico Iyer wrote, “So why am I an optimist? Partly because I’ve been working in the mainstream media for 35 years now, and I know not to trust it. It’s always a single act of brutality that captures headlines, while a hundred acts of everyday kindness are ignored, and more and more, in the global neighborhood, our “news” is just the equivalent of small-town gossip. We’re living in the age of Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama and more charitable efforts than ever before, but it’ll always be the Las Vegas gunman or the ISIS operative with a knife who knows how to dominate our attention. My optimism comes from a deeper source, though, than simply knowing that what we hear and read isn’t a fair register of what is really happening. As a traveller, I witness everyday people whose lives are much more nuanced and often brighter than our notions of them."

Professor Steven Pinker, Harvard University Professor of Psychology writes,  the "disconnect originates in the nature of news. News is about what happens, not what doesn’t happen, so it features sudden and upsetting events like fires, plant closings, rampage shootings and shark attacks. Most positive developments are not camera-friendly, and they aren’t built in a day. You never see a headline about a country that is not at war, or a city that has not been attacked by terrorists–or the fact that since yesterday, 180,000 people have escaped extreme poverty.  The bad habits of media in turn  ring out the worst in human cognition. Our intuitions about risk are driven not by statistics but by images and stories. People rank tornadoes (which kill dozens of Americans a year) as more dangerous than asthma (which kills thousands), presumably because tornadoes make for better television. It’s easy to see how this cognitive bias–stoked by the news policy “If it bleeds, it leads”–could make people conclude the worst about where the world is heading."

Good advice is to stay aware, read, listen or watch the news maybe once or twice a day rather than every hour, and rely on other sources of information for your viewing and reading.  Look for the good in what you read.  Look for the opportunities.

I recommend people don’t listen to the news early in the morning (unless you need to) and, in particular, people should not use the news as an alarm clock.  Wake up to positive thoughts or silence.  The following quotes give you more evidence and context.

I would also advise reducing your reliance on television, radio and newspaper “news.”  I use Google alerts and newsletter subscriptions to ensure that the positive news I am seeking gets to my inbox and to my attention.

As Raya Bidshahri, Founder & CEO of Awecademy commends, “We can’t let negative headlines and the media shape our perception of ourselves as a species, and the vision we have for the future. As legendary astronomer Carl Sagan said, “For all of our failings, despite our limitations and fallibility, we humans are capable of greatness.” Hollywood likes to paint disproportionately dystopian visions of the world, and while those are possible futures, we can and must also imagine a future of humanity where we live in abundance, prosperity, and transcendence. We can’t expect current innovators and future generations to make this positive vision a reality if they believe our species is doomed for failure. It inspires us to continue to contribute to human progress and feel that we can push humanity forward. It’s absolutely critical that our journalists cover the many challenges, threats, and issues in our world today. But just as we report the significant negative news in the world, we must also continue to highlight humanity’s accomplishments. After all, how can our youth grow up believing they can have a positive impact on the world if the news is suggesting otherwise?”

Experiment: Don’t listen to or read the news till you leave for work.  Try this for one week.  Give your family or housemates permission to share positive stories they read or hear.  Let me know how the experiment goes – would you recommend it to others?

Experiment: Limit yourself to listening to or watching the news once a day.  Let me know how the experiment goes – would you recommend it to others?

Creative Advent Videos

On Advent Optimism

Most Reverend José H. Gomez,  Archbishop of Los Angeles

"Above all, let us try to make Christ present in the hearts and lives of others. Yes, we have to be, each one of us has to be a source of hope and optimism for other people. What a beautiful Advent and what a beautiful Christmas we will have if we really have the joy of knowing that we are disciples of Jesus Christ who came to save us and to make us happy. "

Rev Kenneth Padley

"Hope is optimism. Hope is certainty. And hope is engagement. That is why we hope with expectation of the future, trust in Christ, and patience in waiting. Christian hope is bigger and better than we can begin to conceive. But in Advent, the season of hope, we come close to catching a glimpse."

Rev. Dr. J. Barrington Bates

"Jesus showed an unquenchable, confident optimism—even in seemingly dire situations. And he commanded us not to fear, but live in hope."

St Michaels with St Marys in St Albans  The Advent Wreath on Tour 2020 at Prae Wood School

Fr Dave Austin osa

"Advent opens us to the ‘refreshment’ and ‘renewal’ of the Christmas celebration – two more ‘Christmas words’ perhaps, expressing God’s optimism for each of us in our human living and his gift of hopefulness that we so badly need. On this Gaudete Sunday, St Paul’s words from Philippians 4 should ring in our ears: ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.’"

Rev. Rodney Ragwan, Pastor of North Wales Baptist Church

"We embrace this advent season with a sense of hope and optimism. God is starting to allow for the normalcy of everyday living. We are at the cusp of the COVID-19 vaccine but more important is the hope of the Immanuel, God is with us. God is with us with or without the pandemic. God is with us whether we have to celebrate Christmas with family or alone. God is with us whether we can gather as church communities or worship virtually. God will turn our pain for the good, our despair into optimism, and our worry into calm."

William Willimon

"For some, Christ's [second] coming is terrifying. Old verities give way at his arrival. Those who make their living by the status quo do not rejoice when the status quo is threatened. Caesar trembles, empires topple, and the earth shakes. For those tied to the old age and its gods, its armies, its delusions of immortality, its false securities, the arrival of the Son of Man is bad news. `Apocalypse now,' cry the prophets of doom. Let us put away these prophets, close our eyes and speak optimistically of tomorrow. But those who have watched, who have heeded the signs, who have never made peace with the status quo, who have lived as if there were no tomorrow prick up their ears, straighten, stand on tiptoes. The Anointed One comes, their redemption is near and the world's doom becomes their deliverance".

Thomas Merton

"The certainty of Christian hope lies beyond passion and beyond knowledge. Therefore we must sometimes expect our hope to come in conflict with darkness, desperation and ignorance. Therefore, too, we must remember that Christian optimism is not a perpetual sense of euphoria, an indefectible comfort in whose presence neither anguish nor tragedy can possibly exist. We must not strive to maintain a climate of optimism by the mere suppression of tragic realities. Christian optimism lies in a hope of victory that transcends all tragedy: a victory in which we pass beyond tragedy to glory with Christ crucified and risen."

Monsignor Sabino Vengco Jr.

"Our present life is a matter of what is still to come. At no point is it everything already, nor is everything there. Our life is about birth, growth, and maturation; there is even fullness expected in the end of life, in death, into what is eternal. There are depths and dimensions in one’s life and in the world at large still to be discovered and explored, forces to be unlocked so that life can be brought to its full potential. Creation is in progress and its plenitude and completeness are waiting: an optimism that is an essential component of Christian faith."

ADVENT REFLECTIONS 2019 Notre Dame Catholic Church Kerrville, Texas

"God imbued us with some innate desire to look to the morning sun, to find optimism in the new leaf, and through it all to know that He loves us and will never abandon us."

The Very Reverend Dr James Rigney

"John the Baptist blends simple moral instruction on how to live in this climate of expectation, with words about the coming of the more powerful one. John is the route to Advent optimism."

Billy Graham, Evangelist 

"I am an optimist not because I blindly hope - all evidence to the contrary - that somehow everything will work out all right. Nor am I an optimist because I believe in man's unlimited ability to solve his problems. I am an optimist ultimately because I believe in God." 

Robert Masters, LFPRIA, Chairman of The Centre for Optimism

"The Joy of Christmas is much more than that.  One of the best things about Christmas is the joy it brings to people. In fact, it is as intrinsically linked with Christmas as love, giving gifts, decorating, shopping, and eating good food. Yet, it is more than that… come to think about it, it is the spirit of being optimistic. And when we look at an optimistic spirit, we know that scientifically the benefits extend beyond joy to happiness, active longevity, better health - including lower risks of cardiovascular disease - better sleep, greater resilience, stronger relationships and increased self-mastery. So, this Christmas I encourage you to extend that optimistic spirit to each day of your life and to spread it around - the world needs it. Merry Christmas!"

Creede Hinshaw

"I began thinking about children and waiting. I first concluded that children know nothing about how to wait. But after further reflection, there is another side to this. Children have to wait for almost everything. Accompanying that waiting, at least in terms of their birthday parties and Christmas, is a sense of sheer excitement and eagerness. That unbridled optimism and expectation is often missing once we become adults. Children have much to teach us about eager expectation. As adults it is too easy to grow cynical, jaded or resigned.  One of the Advent themes is that of waiting. But not just waiting for any old thing. The Christian is awaiting the redemption of the world, the coming again into the world of the One born in a manger. Advent is a season to heighten, sharpen and restore that sense of expectation."


Janine Kirk, Chair of Phoenix Australia

"Without faith we have nothing, without hope there is nothing and without love we are nothing. Optimistic leaders create the conditions where faith, hope and love can thrive."

Read more Wisdom on Optimism, Religion, Spirituality, Faith and Hope

Jeff Kerr-Bell

"Putting up and dressing the Christmas tree each year with my wife and sons fills me with optimism. As I reflect on the decorations collected each Christmas, I am reminded of life’s joys and challenges, and how both myself and our family have accepted and overcome them, and are better for them. Given 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for all including me, I am grateful for the people I am surrounded by and the connections and learning I have gained that launch me optimistically into 2021. Be realistically optimistic!"

Jack Quirk

"It is of the essence of the Christian faith that good will triumph over evil. This is the promise of Advent. This is the promise of the Gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom which, unlike the nation, will not pass away."

Deepa Patel

"Wherever there's optimism, it feels like there is a spontaneous flow of love."

Darlene Zschech 

"As we journey this advent season my heart has never been more aware of the ache, disappointment and turmoil of the soul that many are finding overwhelming as we continually navigate this crazy stretching year. In the face of this, the prayer in my spirit cries out these three words continually: “legacy”, “territory” and “authority”. I’m reminded once more of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. This power invites us to be bringers and carriers of hope, shining like pure light in dark places and announcing joy that defies all circumstances."

Australia's Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC

"I'm an optimist by nature. So when I was going through my career, learning, as you do as a young officer, and then growing up and progressing through the ranks, I'm looking for the positive in situations. I'm looking for the positive in people."

Speaking to students yesterday in The Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership  Summit sponsored by The Centre forOptimism, The Governor-General said, "I will say what I got to say now, not because I'm dealing with the Center for Optimism. I have said it in many, many, many of my speeches as Governor-General and as Governor of New South Wales, that I'm an optimist by nature.


Some Optimism Advent Tweets

Spread Optimism by sharing this page on social media - click on one of these buttons

Call  Us
+61 417 217 241 (Australia)

Port Melbourne, Melbourne
Victoria 3206
Australia

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software