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Lee Zimmerman: My source of optimism

"optimism is something that has to be learned and then nurtured. It’s a discipline requiring us to tune our thoughts to a higher purpose, be that spirituality, determination or the sheer will sample to survive. It’s a very real necessity because after all, what other choice do we have? To give in to pessimism and despair means to give up. Without the drive and desire to persevere, then all is lost."

By Lee ZimmermanWriter, journalist, author

Optimism can sometimes be a challenge. In the most perilous times, constantly reminded of the troubles, travails and dire circumstances that seem to continually entangle the human race, it can be difficult to see beyond the shroud of turmoil that seems to continually challenge us, physically as well as mentally.

In that regard, optimism is something that has to be learned and then nurtured. It’s a discipline requiring us to tune our thoughts to a higher purpose, be that spirituality, determination or the sheer will sample to survive. It’s a very real necessity because after all, what other choice do we have? To give in to pessimism and despair means to give up. Without the drive and desire to persevere, then all is lost. Circumstances must and can be overcome, but only if there is a willingness to do so.

By my estimation, that is indeed the essence of optimism.

Granted, it’s not an easy attribute to come by. But my mantra is simple. Where there’s life, there’s hope. 

Fortunately, we’re not alone in this quest. Granted, there are some folks all too willing to give in to despair. And yet, the greater universe that we find ourselves in suggests that we have ample reason to take comfort — whether it’s part of a circle of family and friends, the help of counselling, or the depth, breadth and beauty of nature itself. Seeing the changing of the seasons, the animals and birds going about their business, a distant horizon or a sweeping panorama reassures me that the world continues to turn and, as a wise man once said, “this too shall pass.”

I’m a Pantheist and as a devotee to that spiritual philosophy, I know that nature is a direct and absolute reflection of God. Who can look at a mighty oak or a majesty mountain or a rushing river and deny that these miracles were the product of some superior force. Call it what you will, but that’s what sustains my faith and belief in a higher power that I can’t begin to comprehend. Nor would I be so presumptuous to think I could.

Ultimately, I simply accept, and with that acceptance comes the belief that life will go on and that hope can be sustained. It’s called faith, I suppose — whether blind, devoted or otherwise. It’s brought me to a good place in my life, one for which I am forever thankful. In fact, it’s exceeded every dream I ever had. And yet, without that dream, that hope, that faith, that optimism, it would never have  been possible.

It’s that belief in possibility and the reality that can come as a result, that sustains my optimism. You have to believe it before you can live it. Once you’re able to do that, optimism follows naturally. To give up, and give in, is simply to fail. We might not always succeed in our quest, but simply trying brings a success of its own. That too is optimism. We owe to ourselves to keep it alive. 

May 2020 - generously written as a gift to The Centre for Optimism

Thank Lee for this article (by email)

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