“The sky is falling! The end is near!” In a variety of words, we are hearing these dire warnings issued by the talking heads on television and on talk radio, daily. The fear then permeates into the minds and hearts of listeners who then spread to their friends, family, and coworkers. Yes, fear and pessimism can travel just like a virus.
Pessimism is a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen. Sound familiar? How many people do you know live this way? A pessimistic outlook causes lack of hope or confidence in the future. It’s a terrible feeling to live without hope. Even worse, pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you live your life believing the worst is coming, your mind and body conspire together to make it so. What you look for, you usually find.
We speak often about optimism and the opportunities for a successful and happy life. But like the typical optimist, I usually avoid pessimism like a nasty virus.
The typical pessimist doesn’t realize he or she is a pessimist. They say things like, “I call them the way I see them,” or, “I’m a realist.” When you believe the worst is coming, what do you think you look for? And when you look at life through pessimistic eyes, everything looks negative. When you see the worst in situations and people, you respond in kind, while creating a negative and unhappy life.
I spent a lot of years in leadership positions and as a CEO. In searching for future leaders, experience and education was always important but took a back seat to attitude and outlook. I always sought out the optimists. I wanted people who saw a successful and bright future at the helm. If they were optimistic about success, they were far more likely to succeed. No, optimism alone will not always win, but an optimistic person with the right experience and training will.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s appropriate to mention again. On Feb. 15, 2020, an oncologist told me that I had nine months to a year at the most to live. I was stunned, and asked, “so what’s the plan?”
He shrugged and said, “We’ll make you as comfortable as we can until the end.”
“What are my other options?” I asked.
He looked confused, so I rephrased the question. “What is our plan to beat this cancer?”
He said firmly, “You have stage four gastric cancer. It’s inoperable and unbeatable. You need to get your life in order and enjoy what time you have left.”
That type of pessimistic outlook just doesn’t compute in my optimistic brain, so I decided to find a doctor more in line with my philosophy. I began my search for an optimistic physician who would fight with me and find a way to extend my life or beat this cancer all-together. I found Dr. Kasi at the University of Iowa, Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and he said, “We’ll explore every option and fight this cancer. There’s a new treatment that’s a combination of an immunotherapy called Keytruda and chemo that’s creating promising results. I like our chances.”
I thoroughly checked out his education and background and realized I had found the best physician for the job and he was an optimist. I’m past the nine-month death prediction and I’ll fly by the year. I promise you I’ll be writing this column for years to come.
If you think optimism isn’t important, think about this. If I were a pessimist, I would have accepted my first doctor’s death proclamation and gone home to die. But the eternal optimist inside me screamed, “No way!” I searched and found a way, and today, I’m still living my life fully and making plans for the five-year anniversary party of my death proclamation and I fully expect to attend ... and you are invited!
No. Being an optimist will not cure cancer but being an optimist will push you to not give up. Your optimism will search for a positive outcome. Being optimistic doesn’t always mean you’ll find a solution, but it will give you a dramatically better chance than pessimism.
I’m roughly four weeks away from my projected “death day” and I believe I’m healthier now than I was a year ago. And that’s not just optimism. My blood tests and scans agree.
So, what about you? There is a cure for the “Pandemic of Pessimism” and it’s the choice to become an optimist. What is your picture of a happy and successful future? Believe the best is yet to come and go to work to make it so.
I’m optimistic that 2021 will be my best year ever. What about you?
Will you join me?
Gary W. Moore is a freelance columnist, speaker, and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com