Shari Alyse, Noirin Mosley and Victor Perton on Joy and Optimism
Shari Alyse: Victor. Why are you so passionate about optimism?
Victor Perton: Well, the positivity has been lifelong, probably intergenerational. And the optimism has been five years of passion. I was studying leadership in Australia and couldn't figure out why people were so negative about leadership. So we spent two years researching this question. The leadership was quite good, so we were still bewildered about the negativity even after thousands of interviews. And then, I was a final-panel speaker at the Global Integrity Summit in 2017. And after several days of miserable debate, the Eureka moment hit me. The problem was not the problem of leadership. The problem is the fog of pessimism. And the science now shows around the world, optimism is in short supply. We have now interviewed thousands of people, from presidents and prime ministers to women digging ditches in India, asking people to think about what makes them optimistic. That question lifts people. It lifts me. It helps to lift the world.
Shari Alyse: Well, it's obvious your passion behind it. And I want to say in advance, and I'll say it at the end, but just thank you for your work around this because the people do need it. So Nóirín, tell me about your personal journey with optimism.
Nóirín Mosley: Yes, it's different to Victor's: I am a learned optimist. So I wouldn't say I was ever a pessimist, but I would say that I was optimistic for everyone else, but not for me. So that translated into my life as I would get things done. I was a doer. I achieved things, but it was always hard because I always had to try harder because I wasn't really believing but kept going. And then I realized, goodness, okay, this isn't really great. And then I met Victor, became very aware of how I was actually communicating with the world and what I was doing and reframed. And I reframed it in my learned optimistic way. So that is, I gently leaned into the whole idea of being optimistic. I really examined it, and eventually, I decided it was easier for me to put a little qualified title to my optimism so that I could buy into it more as a learned optimist. So I am, in my own head officially, a realistic optimist and a worried optimist. So I do think that things will work out in time. In time, in time. And I'm very realistic about it. And I also permit myself to worry because that's who I am. But I also know that I can worry and be optimistic.
Shari Alyse: What do you see as the link between optimism and joy?
Victor Perton: An optimistic spirit experiences more joy, and a joyful soul tends to be more optimistic. So joy is those exceptional good feelings and happiness that often come at unexpected times, and optimism is a belief that good things will happen and that things will work out in the end. So optimistic people, who are looking for the good, tend to spot the good, the joyful. And so it's not the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is hard. Happiness is 100 things. And we'll all experience bits of sadness and grief, but joy is those exceptional moments that build us.
Nóirín told me, "Optimism fuels and enhances the joy that we can all experience in our daily life."
So joy isn't something you have to wait for, for that lifetime trip to Venice or climbing Mount Everest. It can be a daily thing caught up in the sun on your face, a beautiful cup of coffee, or a hug from a friend.
And one of our board members, Amanda Noz, lives in France. She's the head of the Professional Women's Network in Southeast France, and she puts this beautifully. "Optimism and joy are like best friends entwined together, who understand and fuel each other. An optimistic attitude enables people to notice the little things in life that bring joy, and that joy underpins an optimistic outlook towards life."
In my view, optimism and joy flow together beautifully.
Shari Alyse: I love that. And I already know that everybody will have, and their joy will be elevated this week alone just from having the two of you sharing and igniting their optimism and joy. So thank you both for this wonderful time together and for being a part of A Year of Joy.