A Free-Range Optimist

The term "free-range optimist" evokes a vivid image of unbounded, natural, free and expansive optimism.

When John Dabell described himself as a "free-range optimist" in response to a light-hearted compliment in a tweet, it struck a chord with me. Having identified with terms like "radical optimist" and "Pollyanna optimist," the concept of "free-range optimism" resonates deeply, offering a fresh and evocative perspective on optimism.

This unique form of optimism, suggesting an outlook that roams freely without being confined by the cages of scepticism or the pastures of pessimism, is informed by a profound understanding of the world's complexities. Yet, it chooses to focus on possibilities and opportunities. It's an optimism that finds its strength in openness, flexibility, and resilience, navigating life's ups and downs with a belief in better outcomes.

John Dabell says of himself, "I describe myself as a full-time ‘Free-Range Optimist’ because I allow my mind to roam free and peck at the positives wherever I can find them."

Douglas Brinkley's portrayal of Theodore Roosevelt in "The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America" as embodying "pure free-range optimism," devoid of cynicism, adds a historical dimension to this concept. Roosevelt's approach to conservation and leadership, driven by an expansive and inclusive optimism, illustrates how such a mindset can lead to substantial societal and environmental progress. His legacy underscores the communal value of free-range optimism, capable of inspiring collective action towards shared visions for a better future.

The contagious nature of free-range optimism, akin to the perceived well-being of free-range animals, can spread positivity and hope, influencing environments to foster creativity, innovation, and collaboration. This form of optimism is not just a personal trait but a communal asset, emphasising the importance of actively choosing to see the good, even when it's hidden, and cultivating a life attitude that embraces gratitude, resilience, and the transformative power of positivity.

Roosevelt wilderness warriorTo be a "free-range optimist" is to be an agent of change, demonstrating through example that optimism is a robust and viable stance in the face of adversity. It's about harnessing the power of a positive outlook to drive meaningful change, whether in personal endeavours or broader societal challenges.

As we advocate for free-range optimism, we encourage others to adopt this liberating perspective, contributing to a more hopeful, resilient, and joyous world. Our mission is to believe in the power of optimism to transform not just our lives but the world around us, spreading the seeds of optimism wherever we go.

I have added "free range optimism" to my "superpowers of optimism," an exercise worth trying. This addition enriches our arsenal of tools for fostering a positive outlook and underscores the importance of embracing an expansive, unconfined approach to optimism. By adopting the mindset of a free-range optimist, we open ourselves to the endless possibilities that optimism can bring, making it a truly transformative force in our lives and the world.

In his essay, "Cancer And Free-Range Optimism", John Dabell concluded, "From a medical point of view, cancer can be a prison house of misery but organic optimism gives you the freedom to go beyond the bars and the walls to live a better quality of life. Free-range optimism and positive living boost your ‘jolly’ quotient and make you a healthier and happier human! In today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, we need more Free Range Optimists with the organic thinking to think on their feet and embrace dynamism and change. For cancer survival, Free Range Optimism is a must-have."

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