May 7, 2015

How Optimism Brings Victories

Life is full of struggles for many of us. How can we have hope when our past was difficult and we can’t control much in our present lives?
Still, if we analyze the situation, we find that a defeatist attitude only makes us feel sadder, sicker, and more overwhelmed. In other words, it adds to our burden. A positive outlook despite the odds can keep even the smallest glimmer of expectation alive. It’s the best therapy around.

The Miraculous Healing Power of Hope

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."--Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

It's a scientifically proven fact that a strong positive attitude can bring about more miracles than some wonder drugs. The late Norman Cousins healed himself over time by watching hilarious movies for even ten minutes at a time. He was used as a case study in top medical journals.

Laughter lifts us out of  the drudgery of the moment. It helps us to realize the temporary nature of many unpleasant situations. In other words, it gives us a fresh hope.

I would like to cite two more examples of expectant mindsets. When I hear stories similar to these, all I can say is “Wow!” Words fail me:

1. Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus

My good friend, Carol Graham, wrote about these two amazing young women on her blog, Never…Ever…Give up Hope. They are the two survivors who were held captive in Ariel Castro’s Cleveland, Ohio house for a decade. In an environment of squalor, they were tortured and brutalized in every manner possible.

Even so, these remarkable individuals refused to harbor bitterness and resentment. They declined to allow their past to define them. In the photograph I saw, Amanda and Gina appear to be nothing but beautiful, well-adjusted young adults. There is no evidence of the trauma they endured.

The former prisoners have co-written a memoir. In this way, they are dispelling the darkness by bringing it into the light. Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus are turning despondency into hope.

2. Viktor Frankl

He is another overcomer who suffered more than the average person can possibly imagine. Yet, he absolutely rejected the easy route of anger. This remarkable man’s most famous quote signifies his unbelievable resilience: "Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

He is one of the many achievers I mention in my self-help book, Accept No Trash Talk: Overcoming the Odds. Here is a direct quote:

Viktor Frankl was a respected psychoanalyst, author, and survivor of Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Viktor Frankl believed that even under the most extreme conditions of bullying imaginable our state of mind is still up to us. He believed and lived that truth. He exemplified a life that moves beyond unimaginable trauma to a place of hope and survival. He didn’t survive the death camp, Auschwitz, and two satellite camps of Dachau, by letting negativity overwhelm him. In addition, Frankl didn’t endure until 1997 by letting the Nazis dictate how he should feel about himself. He, alone, decided how he would feel about himself.

My Conclusion

John 14:27 tells us that Jesus gives us peace. We are not supposed to be troubled or afraid.

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."--Viktor E. Frankl

How have you found contentment despite circumstances?

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