© All columns copyrighted
Columns must not be
reprinted in any form without the author's express permission.
Nshima & Curry
Nshima & Curry
OPTIMISM CAN MAKE YOUR LIFE BETTER
I'm an optimist, a relentless, incorrigible optimist. If I
were married to LaToya Jackson, I'd say, "Well, at least I'm
not married to Tonya Harding." If I were married to Tonya
Harding, I'd say, "Well, at least I'm not married to Monica
Lewinsky." If I were married to Monica Lewinsky, I'd say,
"Well, at least I'm not dead."
Yes, I have a very positive outlook on life. Sometimes I
just look in the mirror and smile, for I know that although
I'm not half as handsome as Tom Cruise, I'm twice as
handsome as Osama bin Laden. Life is good!
Optimism keeps my spirits up, even when things aren't going
my way. Tomorrow will be better, I tell myself. My book will
be published tomorrow; my dream job will open tomorrow; my
bald spot will disappear tomorrow.
Perhaps I'm lying to myself, but I'd rather do a little bit
of lying than a lot of crying.
The benefits of optimism cannot be overstated, even by an
optimist. Not only can optimism make you more successful, it
can make you healthier. For example, a new study indicates
that optimists are far less likely to develop heart disease
than pessimists. Only through ardent optimism has Dick
Cheney managed to limit his heart attacks to one per month.
If pessimism were sold in stores, it would come with a
Surgeon General's warning. "This product could contribute to
heart disease, which would cause the user of this product,
lacking all optimism, to make an appointment at the nearest
Optimists are generally happier than pessimists. A
pessimistic sports hero would say, "Five cars. I can't
believe I have only five cars." An optimistic military hero
would say, "Five scars. I can't believe I have only five
Optimists tend to be more successful than pessimists,
because they don't let failures get them down. They keep
trying until they achieve their goals or qualify for
Of course, being overoptimistic can be disastrous. An
overoptimistic driver may neglect to wear a safety belt, an
overoptimistic presidential candidate may forget to campaign
in his home state, and an overoptimistic mother may rely on
her husband to keep an eye on the baby during the football
game. "Honey, the good news is my team won. The bad news is
I sat on the baby. Does our insurance plan cover cosmetic
Some folks say they're neither optimists nor pessimists.
They call themselves realists. But what exactly is reality?
Was it realistic for Nelson Mandela, serving 27 years in a
South African prison, to imagine himself as president? No,
not without making several calls to the Psychic Friends
Here are three scenarios to illustrate the importance of
SCENARIO ONE: Your wife has just left you for another man.
Realist: "It's the end of my marriage."
Pessimist: "It's the end of my life."
Optimist: "It's the end of my credit card bills."
SCENARIO TWO: You receive a piece of mail containing a white
Realist: "It could be anthrax. I'd better call the police."
Pessimist: "Oh no! I'm going to die in two days."
Optimist: "I'm going to be on CNN! I'm going to be on CNN!"
SCENARIO THREE: After an accident, you lose your sense of
Realist: "I may never hear again."
Pessimist: "I may never communicate again."
Optimist: "I may never listen to Britney Spears again."
If that doesn't sell you on optimism, I don't know what