Beyond Platitudes 721.1

How can one continue to advocate optimism in a world so filled with tragedy?

How empty do platitudes about positive thinking feel to people in Alabama, Japan, or Haiti, whose lives were ravaged by tornadoes, tsunamis, and earthquakes? Or, for that matter, to folks whose lives have been turned upside down by illness, betrayal of an unfaithful spouse, or financial ruin?

It would be callous and foolish to ignore or minimize the misery brought by misfortune.

But one thing we know about sorrow and grief is that giving up hope always makes things worse – always.

For some, it’s a matter of disposition; for others, it requires willpower, but those who can find reasons to be grateful and things to love, who can muster the ability to experience simple pleasures in the midst of woeful times, surely live better lives.

Positive thinking isn’t an antidote to disease. It can’t heal all wounds, and it doesn’t provide immunity to tragedy. It is, however, the most sensible and effective life strategy I know of to find happiness despite random misfortune. Still, the fact that it’s smart doesn’t make it easy.

In addition to believing we can escape our suffering by positive thinking, we have to muster the strength to force our minds and hearts to struggle out of the web of negative emotions that would confine us to despair. It’s like the painful process of rehabilitating an injured knee by exercising it. You’ve got to force yourself to do it.

One way to be sure you can summon a positive attitude when you need it most is to practice it every time you can.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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