No. 59


Sometime back I was asked to be the speaker for an "ol' timer's" breakfast at an Optimist District Convention that was held in Texarkana, Texas. In case you are not familiar with the Optimists, they are a service organization with over 4,000 clubs in the United States, Canada and a small number in Europe. The motto of Optimist International is "Friend of Youth." These men and women do a great job of working with young people in the various communities where one or more of their clubs are located.
It was a fun time, with lots of good, clean humor and at the conclusion of my presentation, they presented me with a framed copy of the Optimist Creed that they recite at each of their meetings. This creed contains such a timely and profound message that I asked if it were possible to share it with you in this column. Permission was granted, so 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 on to 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."
After you finish reading this column and some time has passed, if you will go back and reread the Optimist Creed and really think about what it says, I believe you will find a great deal of encouragement for your life. To my way of thinking, in today's times we have far too many people who are cynical and pessimistic and not optimistic about the future and their own chances for success and happiness. While doing research for this column, however, I came across a quotation about "Optimism", by Georges Bernanos, that really made me stop and think. Based on the tone of what I've been saying, this will seem out of place, but he said, "Nine times out of ten, optimism is a sly form of selfishness, a method of isolating oneself from the unhappiness of others."
This is just one man's view and it's certainly no reflection on the fine men and women of Optimist International and the good work they do, and I don't want to say or imply anything that sounds like it. I couldn't find anything at all about Georges Bernanos, but what I think he was saying is that if we are not careful, while we are optimistic and looking on the "sunny side of everything," we fail to see many hurting people and the unpleasant side of life that is all around us.
Certainly it's an individual thing and in most cases, what happens to us during the course of our lives is not nearly as important as how we react to it. It has been said that in most cases, life is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as more times than not, we will get what we expect. The wonderful thing to always keep in mind is that we do have a choice and if we begin each day with hope and optimism, expecting good things to happen, in most cases it will turn out that way. I don’t know about you but my glass is “half-full” if you know what I mean. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)