This roller coaster we call life is full of ups and downs and everything in between. Although some of the twists and turns can cause heartache or stress, it is important to find the silver lining. This may seem hard during your lowest of lows; however, a positive outlook on life can truly make a difference. By being able to look on the bright side and become more positive, people are able to shift their perspective and better aim for success.
As funny as it may seem, there is a day that is dedicated to this entire philosophy. December 21st, 2015 is recognized as Look on the Bright Side Day. Optimism is also a key to being a visionary, leader and entrepreneur. As Winston Churchill says,
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. For myself, I am an optimist — it does not seem to be of much use being anything else.”
Dr. John Shufeldt writes about optimism as one of the key traits of leaders in both Ingredients of Outliers and Ingredients of Young Outliers. In fact, you can read the introduction to his chapter on optimism from Ingredients of Outliers here. In this chapter, John reminds his readers that
“Out of each [failure comes] some new learning, new growth, new perspective, more resilience, more education, more humility, and, most importantly, more funny stories.”
Don’t Allow the Past to Define You
Journalist, editor, photographer, and speaker Sharon Guynup is a well-known advocate for tigers in their plight as an endangered species and for other important environmental issues. Her work has been featured on National Geographic’s blog, The Smithsonian, New York Times, and other top publications. However, getting there was no easy task.
When she was younger, she witnessed her mother having serious health issues and becoming addicted to prescription drugs. This addiction ultimately lead her mother to overdose when Sharon was fourteen. On top of that, her father came from a long line of alcoholics and had his own struggles with an addiction that resulted in destructive behavior.
To escape from her father, she ran away several times as an adolescent. She even ended up in a juvenile detention center once for trying to climb back into her father’s home. The police officer talked with both Sharon and her father and recommended she move back in and go to school because she doesn’t belong in the juvenile detention center.
This only lasted so long. She dropped out on her sixteenth birthday and left home the same week. She recalls:
“It was a huge turning point. I’m a fighter and a hard worker, and what I fight for now is wildlife and the protection of human health. I’m glad I found a positive place to channel that energy.”
Sharon Guynup worked hard to earn her diploma later, go on to college and work towards her dreams of helping out the tigers. To this day, she has traveled the world studying tigers and has even written a book called Tigers Forever, Saving the World’s Most Endangered Big Cat. Without her ability to remain positive and persevere through life’s challenges, she would not be where she is now and even have the exciting chance to speak on TEDx. We were so impressed with Guynup, we interviewed her for Ingredients of Outliers: Women Game Changers. She continues to wow us with her powerful work, you can keep up with her here.
Remaining optimistic in life can sometimes seem like a stretch. However, research has shown that even “faking it till you make it” has positive affects.