By Henrylito D. Tacio
THREE years ago, at four in the morning, our neighborhood was suddenly in mayhem when a mother shouted for help. Her daughter took sleeping pills - several of them - to end her life. The reason for her
suicide: her boyfriend of five years eloped with her best friend. They were slated to tie the nuptial knot by December - or five months away.
Fortunately, the doctors were able to save Anna (let's call her that way to protect her privacy). Her family and friends consoled her. "Maybe, he's not really the man for you," the mother said.
True enough. Anna's brother came home two months after the incident. Together with him was his American friend. They were introduced and before they knew it they were smitten by each other. To make the long story short, they got married. Today, the couple is now living in the United States and has a son.
Whatever happened to Anna's former boyfriend? Well, he was separated from his wife, with whom he has two kids. A drunkard, he has no steady job. "At that time, I didn't know that what he had done was the best thing that ever happened," Anna said. "I should have known better."
Because of that lesson, Anna now always looks at the brighter side. And that's what optimism is all about.
As Zig Ziglar puts it: "No person ever ended his eyesight by looking on the bright side."
Here's an advice from Bob Losure: "People have been wonderful to me in the good times and the bad, and I've come to believe that you do indeed reap what you sow. For those who constantly gripe about life, I turn and walk away. For those who speak negatively about people behind their backs, I move on."
Christian D. Larsen urges: "Look at the sunny side of everything. Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your won.
Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give everyone a smile. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others. Be too big for worry and too noble for anger."
Some optimists people from history I know included Napoleon Bonaparte ("Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools"), George Eliot ("Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand"), Duke Ellington ("Gray skies are just clouds passing over"), Ralph Waldo Emerson ("Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year"), Anne Frank ("I don't think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains"), and Benjamin Franklin ("Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight").
The other side of optimism is pessimism. This means that when two pessimists would meet in a party, they would shake their heads instead of hands. "Sometimes, I don't think we realize how wonderful today is until tomorrow," Jim M. Owen. That's the reason why the past is called "the good old days."
Hollywood film actor Woody Allen contributes: "More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."
Helen Keller deplores: "No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land or opened a new heaven to the human spirit." Michael Arlen contributes: "She not only expects the worst, but makes the worst of it when it happens." A quintessential optimist, indeed.
So, what's the difference between the two? "The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds," says James Branch Cabell, "and the pessimist fears this is true." Albert Schweitzer
differentiates: "An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight. The truly wise person is color-blind." American author Joe Karbo illustrates: "The pessimist sees the bottle as half empty. The optimist sees it as half full."
Here are more thoughts. William A. Ward penned: "The optimist pleasantly ponders how high his kite will fly; the pessimist woefully wonders how soon his kite will fall." Felix Adler wrote: "An optimist is a person who sees only the lights in the picture, whereas a pessimist sees only the shadows." Winston Churchill said it all: "The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity."
The pessimist allows a disappointment in one area of his life to pervade the rest. For instance, he's laid off from work. The pessimist not only feels bad about losing his job, but he also starts to worry that his marriage is in trouble and his kids are out of control. On the other hand, the optimist doesn't let one setback contaminate his whole life. He may say:
"So at the moment I don't have a job. My wife and I are still close, and my kids made the honor roll."
In an article which appeared in 'Good Housekeeping,' Tamara Eberlein wrote: "Positive thinking is a lot more than blind faith - and its power over people's lives is awesome. Optimists fare better than pessimists in almost every aspect of life, often achieving more and enjoying greater social success."
According to Robert J. Flint, when it comes to business, people are far more likely to agree with the optimist than to disagree. "Conversely, people are far more likely to offer a 'No' to the sour, gloomy pessimist. A pessimistic man's words may be completely unheeded or inspire a lack of confidence, but a healthy, vital, optimistic man uttering the same words may rock the world."
Studies have shown that optimistic people are less susceptible to depression and physical ills. "There's evidence that optimism bolsters the immune system,"
reports Dr. Martin E. Seligman, an American psychology professor.
This must be the reason why American comedian and talk show host Joan Rivers believes in optimism. She points out: "I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can't make it through one door, I'll go through another door - or I'll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present."
In other words, the sun has a sinking spell every night but rises again in the morning. Behind the clouds, there's a silver lining.