EP. 23 Lessons From Historical Optimists


Today we chat this week about optimism and how we can learn from the positive outlook of some well known historical figures.

During these uncertain times (COVID-19) it is easy to feel down and have a pessimistic attitude. BUT it is truly possible to change your outlook and choose the happy side! It may not change the challenges we face but the way we face them and how we choose to tackle them.

These 3 incredible people who have lived before us are the epitome of optimism… in unfortunate - even tragic - situations. Their words are wise and true.

NELSON MANDELA - South Africa’s first black president, Nobel Peace prize winner and anti-Apartheid icon.  Spent 27 years in prison.

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” – Nelson Mandela

“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” – Nelson Mandela

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela

“When people are determined they can overcome anything.” – Nelson Mandela

ANNE FRANK – Diary of a Young Girl – She started her diary at the age of 13 while hiding from the Germans during WWII.  She hid for 2 years, writing all the while until she and her family were found and sent to Auschwitz…the infamous concentration/death camp.  She died before she was 16.  Her father, Otto, survived and published her diary.  

“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.” – Anne Frank

“I've found that there is always some beauty left -- in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself; these can all help you.” – Anne Frank

“I can’t imagine how anyone can say: ‘I’m weak’, and then remain so. After all, if you know it, why not fight against it, why not try to train your character?” – Anne Frank

“We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.” – Anne Frank

HELEN KELLER – Author, activist and lecturer – Helen was left deaf, blind and mute as a result of an unknown illness at the age of 19 months. Her lifelong instructor and eventual companion, Anne Sullivan, taught Helen to communicate by spelling words with her hands, using sign language.  Helen couldn’t see, so she had to feel the hands of the person communicating with her.  The process was really difficult for her and as she recalls, she became extremely frustrated because she didn’t even know the words existed. 

On January 22, 1916, Keller and Sullivan traveled to the small town in Wisconsin to deliver a lecture at the Mabel Tainter Memorial Building. Details of her talk were provided in the weekly Dunn County News on January 22, 1916: 

A message of optimism, of hope, of good cheer, and of loving service was brought to Menomonie Saturday—a message that will linger long with those fortunate enough to have received it. 

When part of the account was reprinted in the January 20, 2016 edition of the paper under the heading "From the Files", the column compiler added 

According to those who attended, Helen Keller spoke of the joy that life gave her. She was thankful for the abilities that she did possess and stated that the most productive pleasures she had were curiosity and imagination. Keller also spoke of the joy of service and the happiness that came from doing things for others ... Keller imparted that "helping your fellow men were one's only excuse for being in this world and in the doing of things to help one's fellows lay the secret of lasting happiness." She also told of the joys of loving work and accomplishment and the happiness of achievement. Although the entire lecture lasted only a little over an hour, the lecture had a profound impact on the audience. 

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." – Helen Keller

"I take happiness very seriously. It is a creed, a philosophy and an objective." – Helen Keller

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope." – Helen Keller

"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows." – Helen Keller

"Many of us delude ourselves with the thought that if we could stand in the lot of our more fortunate neighbor, we could live better, happier and more useful lives…It is my experience that unless we can succeed in our present position, we could not succeed in any other." – Helen Keller

“True happiness... is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller

We hope this brings you a new optimistic outlook for life. We can do this!

xo Stephanie & Kayla


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