Some days the drumbeat of bad news can take its toll. Stolen classified records, the refusal to return them, the potential dangers to national security, the possibility that foreign adversaries already have seen them, extremists threatening violence, leaders inciting it, democracy under attack, angry MAGA Republicans insisting their leader hasn’t committed any crimes. The list goes on and on. The flood can swallow you up if you can’t sustain optimism.
I am sure that we all can articulate reasons for optimism and strategies to keep the light shining. America has faced tough times before. The majority of Americans voted for the empath over the sociopath. The extremists are a clear minority. Women are registering in record numbers to secure reproductive rights. Unemployment is at a record low. The president is speaking out and pushing back. The one governing party may expand its majority in the US Senate. Renewable energy is expanding.
As for me, love is nourishing and hate comes and goes, and the ideals of democracy, justice, equality, education and human rights—these feed me, motivate me, convince me to get up in the morning and figure out what I can do to create positive change. Anyone with children can tell you about the responsibility to be optimistic. Anyone who teaches in a school can tell you about the hunger to learn and the desire to find solutions. Everyone who travels can tell you about the world’s beautiful diversity and how our fellow humans are striving to make something of their lives.
What about you? How do you stay optimistic? Who or what gives you optimism? I’m excited to hear from and learn from each of you and for our opportunity to learn from each other. As always, I ask you to be respectful.
*Art Credit: Jorm Sangsorn via Getty Images.
It may be a long road, and not a straight one, but despair gains us nothing. “The old law about an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.” - MLK Jr.
As a therapist I hear about life’s pain, tragedy and inherent unfairness hour after hour. But I also witness resilience, compassion, courage, and an inherent drive towards something better. This gives me hope.
I think of Joseph Campbell's wisdom that one must say "yes" to life. Not that we agree with how things are, or are happy about them, but that we cannot pull the blankets over our head or stick our heads in the sand, but instead must do our part to affirmatively fight for the world which we wish for. The world is bigger than each of us, and so no one can win the fight alone, but we each must do our part to make the world a better place, especially for those who need help the most. And when we do our part, we find allies, friends and kindred spirits. That is what brings me optimism. Your blog, Steven, is definitely a beacon of hope and optimism---thank you for doing your part!
I became involved in local politics after the 2016 election in a small New England town. We just successfully defeated a Trumpie for the Select Board by yard signs, skilled use of social media (our local paper has just been rescued by an Angel, but it is not up and running yet). We stood out on the Town Common several times, waving our American flag, and placed two sign-holders at our three poling places for our candidate -- even in a downpour on Election Day. I recruited 3 new members, and we are already planning for next May's elections.
My friends and I participate in PostcardsToVoters.org, and felt victory in Kansas and for Pat Ryan NY14.
I look at my darling grandchildren and work as hard as I can to make the world better for them. Children learn what they live, even from their ole Grammy!
As I have said many times here and regardless of how hard it can be, I remain an optimist, mainly because I am an amateur historian (or at least I like to read history). and our country has actually gone through much harder times than these, more than once, and always has seemed to recover stronger than ever. I have to admit, there have been times in the past six year when my optimism was severely taxed, but the Trumplicans have renewed my optimism. They seem to be unable to come up with any type of plan for the economy as President Biden has managed to infuse enough confidence to get unimaginable legislation passed that will, not might, have considerable impact on all Americans for many years. The economy is still strong, even with a war in Europe that has threatened all economies, but yet President Biden has been able to old together a strong alliance against the Russians, one of the Trumplican's strongest supporters. And, I still go back to the Kansas vote on abortion. WOW! It appears that this taking away of rights from all women has blown up in the Trumplicans' face. Go figure. What did they expect? They have no plan. Just hate and innuendo. This has never worked over time, and it won't now. At least 60% of us are smarter than that.
What Molly Hackett said! Including limiting my tendency to doom-scroll. Trying to remember while some of the most cutting and sarcastic anti-trump memes and tweets are hilarious, to not dwell there too long (though I can't not read Jeff Tiedrich). And most importantly, looking to respected, experienced, authorities with courage like Steven, Heather Cox-Richardson, Robert Reich, Adam Schiff - to hear publicly that what we are going through is not normal. Makes me not feel crazy.
TBH: This thread is making me optimistic! Thanks, all!
Daily gratitude. If I begin by understanding what I’ve been given, I can meet challenges and concerns cleanly, objectively, and with energy.
My work as a therapist and international coach allows me to meet people around the world, all of whom struggle with maintaining balance in this stressful world full of emotionally charged issues. My goal is to help couples and individuals see the beauty and potential for joy in their own lives and then to make decisions that enhance those aspects. We may have no control over issues facing us daily that orginate outside of us, but we always have a choice about how we manage and respond to stressors. I often refer to "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl as a starting point for creating resilience. My personal solace comes from being in the woods and taking in all the sensory information nature provides. It grounds me and provides a positive context for discerning what to focus on and what is best set free from my consciousness. The ever-brilliant Karen Armstrong's new book in this vein, "Sacred Nature," is balm for our souls.
My optimism ebbs and flows, it comes from tangible action, action from those who have the juice to take it, from those who possess the courage to deploy it and make it stick! Speeches, writings, remarks and punditry can encourage and momentarily lift one's spirit, but tangible actions, those are the things that drive optimum..That's how it is for me..
How? Via self-cultivated life balance and diversity of thought. Have diverse meaningful intellectual pursuits that are an active part of your life. Do many different things from charity to reading. Work with your hands at something. Help someone. Look up at the sky and notice the weather and the seasons. "The world is so full of a number of things I'm sure we should all be as happy as Kings!" - Robert Louis Stevenson
Your column almost always gives me optimism! As does Heather Cox Richardson's and Robert Reich's. And I keep trying to remember the platitude: "This too shall pass".
The sun rises and sets…. and it will rise again tomorrow. If we do not live— and fight for what is right— we do not deserve to stand in the sunlight. And I desperately want to stand in the sunlight.
Me again. Day to day world events do not affect my going about the often mundane tasks of life. I vacuum the carpet, water my plants, feed the birds (darn squirrel ! ) get the mail (bills and lately junk mail for wheelchairs and cremation ). Raising 3 children alone was quite time and mind consuming, and money is always a problem. Heart problems are always in the back of my mind. But I get very upset when I read either on the PC or in the newspaper, 1) the attempts to defeat the longest democratic, free country in the world by ignorant trump and his followers 2) the suffering of people in the Ukraine and fear of it spreading to US involvement (I have a 20 year old grandson. I want him to live a happy, long life) 3)hunger and homelessness in our country while billions are spent for the military 4)that our representatives, so many of them millionaires, spend 90% of their time begging for more money so they can keep their life long jobs 5) the pretty sad state of public education 6) the forgotten morals , speech, kindness, courtesy , manners of yesteryears. So, I shake my head, then go clean the sink or take a walk, go back to the mundane.
How do I stay optimistic, hopeful, and even (at times : } ) cheerful? I know it is not popular these days, son Ron Reagan taunts it in a commercial, evangelicals have distorted it, but I follow the advice given to me by my mother long ago, if you need something, all you have to do is ask God for help. And so, I do. I pray. It works.
I am naturally optimistic and have been my whole life, for which I am grateful. I practice daily in many ways: with gratitude, affirmations, meditation, etc. Walking in nature feeds me.
For some reason, last week was more challenging for me than usual (after the Special Master decision), so I limited my intake of news for a few days and deliberately focused on what’s good. It helped.
I’m an artist and have an art gallery where I get to connect with people while sharing art with them. I often reflect on the fact that I know nothing about these people or what they believe or who they vote for but in the space of our communion in the gallery, I love them and experience them as beautiful human beings. It’s interesting, and a good reference point for me in seeing humanity from a higher level.
I do also trust that all is well even when it may not seem like it, and know this too will pass. I am so very grateful for voices like yours. Thank you, Steven.
By reading all of these good and informative newsletters like yours and HCR and Robert reich and Kareem’s really do renew my faith in humanity. Thanks again
I get optimistic when I read your blog, like here in your paragraph 2 where you list the positivity in our country's struggle to again be a shining beacon of democracy. Those trying to take down our democracy are louder and often drown out the list of positive happenings in my head. I need to be reminded of the progress we have made and continue to make. I need to be reminded of the steps our DOJ is taking and the progress the DOJ is making to save our democracy and our country. Thank you for reminding me America. America.
4.5 years ago my husband of (then) 29 years suffered septic shock following a simple procedure. The doctors told me there was nothing more they could do but "support" him, and were gauging his life in 6-hour intervals.
I moved into the ICU waiting room for 2 months, held his hand, talked to him, played his favorite music, his fight song, and prayed with every ounce of my being.
And I learned that I have hope. I hadn't realized it before because I'm frequently sarcastic and often negative but darn, there it was, I was hopeful.
I couldn't imagine him not coming home to me one day so I grasped onto that image and pushed him to fight for it.
It took 4 months for him to speak again, and another few weeks for him to walk but 5 months after our world turned upside-down, he came home to me.
I feel the same way about our country.
I have such hope that together, all of us who love this place so much, who believe in democracy with every ounce of our beings will vote, will convince those teetering in the middle to recognize how precarious our democracy is at this moment and join us to fight for its survival. I believe. I have hope.
On election night in 2016, I was in shock, then mourning for several days, unable to believe that Trump had won.
But a cousin reminded me that presidential elections come every 4 years, that we just had to hang on until we could fix this, repair anything he destroyed, that we could correct his "mistakes". And I made a vow to focus and stay strong until we could vote him out. The knowledge that all he could possibly do could change again with the next president, kept me hopeful and moving forward.
I only recognized it for what it was when my husband got sick and I never lost hope. I still haven't. He's by my side 4 and a half years later, still going strong.
I have that same optimism for America, and for democracy. There are too many of us willing to give it our all to keep this nation as our founders intended for me to lose that hope.
Don't you lose it either.
We need you to be the voice of our story of beating back against autocracy and fascism, and retaining our democracy.
Don't let us down.
I took the time to ready EVERY post prior to commenting. This served to buoy my faith, to be among the people who subscribe to America, America. I feel that I am in good company here. The thoughtful and reflective contributors gives me renewed hope that our better angels (as historian John Meacham spoke of) will prevail. I find solace among this peer group of readers, who seek a better path forward for themselves, their families and their country. We have been unduly side-swiped by relentless chaos that Trump and his sycophants propagate. The media beats a similar drum, embellishing so much of what is going wrong in the world. As defeating as the negative influences make us feel, we must find the resolve to work for the greater good. Each step in that direction will get us closer. to what we cherished before the political wheels fell off. Life is truly a gift, and it is my gratitude for every day on this earth, that drives me forward. I see order and process unfold in the natural world, with something as basic as the hierarchy among birds taking turns at my feeder, illustrating that different species in the animal world can interact with relative peace and success. Humans need to take up the mantle of co-operation and respect . By taking that high road, we can and will prevail on a better path. A learned horse trainer and Clinician, Ray Hunt once said: 'Every day I try to do things well. The next day, I try to do them better'. This is what motivates me every day.
It is difficult. I try to refocus on small things, animals, vegetation, the whole natural world, and ofcourse family. i believe our country, like most big ones , is proving ungovernal. Rome, England, Russia, China many times, and so on. I'm sorry but that is the way I see things. Maybe mother nature will try again with a different sort of beings.
I read history (currently Richie Robertson’s Enlightenment tome). It’s tough to find optimism when you’re invisible after age 60. ☹️