This We Believe

Separated by Differences, United by Beliefs

Optimism: A New Way to Cope

on February 20, 2013

Silence filled the air that morning in Daytona Beach, Florida. I noticed the dark overcast looming above my head while leaving my apartment. As I approached my vehicle, my footsteps became progressively slower with every stride. A swift explosion of fear unleashed inside of my body. Reality was difficult to comprehend while frantically searching my surroundings. It was gone – my car was stolen! My stomach knotted while fearfully walking towards the place where my car once stood. There before me laid nothing but the bare cement of an empty parking space.

This left me with two options: stay angry, or figure out a solution. Being penniless with no money for another vehicle sent me on a search for a bicycle. I eventually arrived at a garage sale to find a gorgeous black bicycle propped up on its kickstand. “How much for the bike?” I said to the man in charge of the garage sale. “Hmm, how about forty bucks?” he responded. Only one twenty dollar bill stared back at me from my wallet. “Well, all’s I have is twenty dollars, but let me tell you a funny story…”

The warm breeze combed through my hair while speeding home on my new bicycle. “Riding a bike for transportation isn’t so bad after all!” I thought to myself. Suddenly, my shoulders released tension as that single thought seemed to liberate me from the weight of my stress and worries. For the first time in my life, an unfamiliar sense of serenity overcame me. I realized that my own thoughts were controlling my reality. If I could learn to be optimistic, then the chaotic state of my emotions would be manageable.

Overcoming pessimism was extremely difficult at first. I endured a five mile journey to work every day, and my bicycle made the trip somewhat easier. The hot Florida sun always seemed unforgiving as it forced every molecule of sweat out of my body. Negative thoughts constantly consumed me, and fighting them proved to be a difficult challenge. “This bicycle ride is terrible… But at least I am getting good exercise!” I would reassure myself. Continuing to be angry at an uncontrollable situation seemed irrational. I refused to let stress and worry deteriorate my quality of life any longer.

I believe in constantly remaining optimistic. Sometimes we focus so much on what is wrong with our lives, we forget to appreciate what is right. Negativity holds us hostage from attempting to change our way of thinking. I learned that optimism helped me cope with my misfortune, and freed me from the emotional struggle I experienced. By concentrating on how my thoughts influenced my attitude, I was able to rise above negativity and continue living a satisfying life. When we are unable to control the outcome of a situation, we can always control how we react.

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