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The Optimist’s Creed

By Merrill Ogden - | Sep 7, 2022

Last week, I was listening to one of our Sanpete radio stations (KMTI) and heard the little message show “Focus on the Family.” Part of the day’s message was something which I thought was good advice.

The advice could be summed up in this concept: If something doesn’t happen the way we expect it to happen, we should always assume a positive reason first. Many of us have developed a habit of thinking of things negatively first.

One example given on the radio show was that if a spouse is late coming home from work, the first assumption should be that something came up that delayed them; not that they are having an affair.

There are lots of situations in life when people say and do things that I don’t expect. I admit, I frequently go to the negative way of thinking. I automatically feel like I know what motivated what was said or done. Then, I often find out that there is more to the story than I thought.

I think this all ties into the concept of optimism. The word optimism comes from the Latin word “optimus,” which means “best.” An optimist believes that good things or the best things will happen. I need to work on being more optimistic.

Some time ago, I heard a young lady give a talk in church about optimism. After the service, I asked her if I could get a copy of the part of her talk which I’ve been told is known as “The Optimist’s Creed.” I was impressed by it and thought it was good advice. Here it is:

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet. To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. To think only of the best, to work only for the best and expect only the best. To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press onto the greater achievements of the future. To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble. (attributed to Christian D. Larson)

I know some people in Sanpete who seem to be attempting to practice this creed. I admire them and their efforts. I too try to put some of these goals into my struggles for self-improvement. It ain’t easy!

I am aware of many fellow Sanpeters who are a huge distance further along the path of meeting life’s obstacles with calm optimism and a forgiving, nonjudgmental, cheerful heart than I ever hope to be. (There are a few though in that number that I suspect are doing it with the aid of pharmaceuticals.)

Really though, there are people here who deserve sainthood for the way they handle their lives and meet the bumps that are in the roads that they travel. You know them too.

They are steady, cheerful, genuine, salt-of-the-earth people. To be in their company is a pleasure. To visit with them is to have someone who is truly interested in you and your life. They are also the ones who are willing to share aspects of their lives on a level that has meaning and empathetic value.

Then there is the other category of people who just seem to have come a long way in perfecting the “Optimist’s Creed.” These are the ones who are often annoying to me. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about them. The word that comes to mind is “artificial” and maybe the word “ostentatious.” (Are my negative thinking patterns at work here?)

They are the ones who “wear a cheerful countenance” to the point of making me want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them while yelling: “Get Real!”

So, Sanpete, here is my plea. Let’s be optimists; but let’s be optimists with a down to earth human attitude. Let’s face our obstacles with hearts and minds committed to cheerful problem solving. As I heard the father of a friend of mine say once twisting a familiar saying, “Grab the bull by the tail and look it right in the eye.”

We’ve got much in Sanpete to promote optimism. As some have told me in the past, “We’ve been down so long here in Sanpete there’s only one way to go and that’s up!” Now that’s a good Sanpete brand of optimism, isn’t it? — Merrill


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