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Robert L. Heichberger: Optimistic outlook opens many doors

In the early days of my youth, I remember well a speech by Winston Churchill heard on radio. He eloquently stated: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” At that time, I thought his idea was good, but it was not until later in life that I realized the full and powerful impact of his statement.

When I was a child, back home on the farm in Colden, I so enjoyed Mom’s homemade root beer. After working on the farm in the hot outdoors, a glass of cold root beer was a special treat. I also remember that when I had a cold, Mom would give me a small glass of what I thought was bad-tasting medicine. That was no treat at all. But, for vastly different reasons, I appreciate what each had to offer.

Helping on the family farm could be demanding; it carried with it hours of heavy types of chores. However, I found that the chores seemed to be much lighter when they carried with them the anticipation of something special. For example, it helped to know that we were going to have a freshly baked blackberry pie for supper, from the wild blackberries we picked that morning.

Harvesting all kinds of vegetables was often an all-day chore. However, it didn’t really seem like work when anticipating that we might take a quick dip that evening in the cool waters of the Colden branch of Cazenovia Creek.

And then, there were those times when we made hay all day in the heat of the sun. But the task seemed much lighter knowing that we were going to have a softball game that evening on the newly harvested hay field. And harvesting grain all day did not seem like work at all, anticipating a hot dog roast in the apple orchard at twilight. The work seemed to move by swiftly, knowing that at the end of the day, there would be time for a pleasurable change of pace. Those hours of laborious chores seemed to be much lighter when supported by moments of optimistic anticipation.

Truly, it is helpful to have an optimistic outlook on life. It is all a matter of how one views a situation. Optimism seems to be the operant word. I have discovered that being optimistic is a matter of perception, of looking at things in the most positive light.

I realize that looking on the bright side in all situations is much easier said than done. Fortunately, however, there are ways to get your positive gears churning. I have found that anticipatory optimism works on immediate things, as well as on long-term hopes and aspirations. It works wonders on the events of the day and even has a way of opening doors to long-range dreams of possibility.

Optimism starts with what may be the most extraordinary of human talent. I call it “mental time travel.” That is, the ability to move through time and space in one’s mind. It is helpful to think positively about eventual possibilities. It helps to be able to imagine oneself moving in the direction of future possible endeavors. It allows one to plan and engage in possibility thinking, and prepare oneself to meet hopeful goals. It is helpful to meet the demands of the present, in anticipation of fulfilling future dreams and achieving worthwhile satisfactions.

Truly, I believe it is constructive to be hopeful and optimistic. For you see, there can be possibility in each and every hardship and difficulty. Possibility thinking? You bet. Therein is the grist that churns the gears of hopeful venturing opportunity.