Its my greatest asset and its my biggest character flaw.
The great Zig Ziglar said, “Positive thinking won’t allow you to do everything. But it will help you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
I accepted this as truth when I first heard it in 1998, and went from a “glass-half-full” person to a “glass-overflowing-and-spilling-out-all-over-my-shirt” person. But over the years I’ve discovered that there’s a big difference between being positive and being “overly” optimistic. There’s a difference between being negative and being realistic. (And how I hate that word).
Full disclosure: the last thing I’d ever do is encourage someone to be realistic . . . I mean, who would want to ever do THAT?! . . . BUT, there is definitely a time and a place for it.
For example, I’m a horrible gambler. As much as I love to play most of the games at the casino, as much as I love poker, as much as I love professional football and fantasy sports, I lose a lot more than I win. Why? Overconfidence.
I always think everything is going to go my way. I always think that I’ll get that five-of-diamonds on the river to complete the straight flush even though the odds are two percent. I always think “15 Black” is about to come up on the roulette wheel. I always think my team is going to comeback from three touchdowns down with 54 seconds left in the game. And my problem is, I REALLY believe it.
Thank God I don’t gamble a lot!
I’ll never be more than an average golfer because I always think I can fade my driver around the trees and hit pitching wedge to the green. I always believe I can make that shot out of the woods through the tiny opening in the trees. I mean, “I didn’t come to lay up!”
I always think the stock will come back. Why sell?
I always think the pain will go away on its own. Why see a doctor?
I always think tomorrow will be better than today. Well, <wink> I’m usually right on that one!
The fact is, everybody’s life is better when they rock a pair of rose-colored glasses. But you can’t glue them to your head. Sometimes you have to take them off.
An optimistic view on life is the greatest drug ever discovered. But when you’re in the quicksand, its not a great idea to smile and pretend you’re at the beach.
As much as it pains me to say it, sometimes you have to examine the situation and be realistic.
It’s important to look at life with extreme optimism. But sometimes you have to leave the driver in the bag and hit a five-iron off the tee.
When I was a kid I got caught lying to my parents and my father told me the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
For years after that, I’d have a recurring nightmare that I’d be down playing on my swing set and a wolf would come running out of the woods after me. I was too paralyzed to run and would wake up just as it lunged for my throat.
Clearly this was a traumatic experience (as I remember it vividly, 40 years later).
Horrible as it was, though, it did teach me the importance of honesty.
If you “cry wolf” people won’t believe you and will turn their backs on you in your time of need.
This was, of course, my father’s intent when he scared the hell out of me.
What my father didn’t predict, though, is what also happened as a result of these dreams.
I learned to adapt.
Eventually, when the dream would return I would realize that it was a dream and I learned how to alter it.
When the wolf would come, I would tear open my shirt (exposing the “S” on my chest) and – as Superman – I would punch the wolf in the face, grab it by the back legs, and throw it over the mountain behind the woods. Like 100 miles, or something.
The nightmares ended and I’ve always had the ability to alter my dreams, ever since.
I always dreamed of a great life when I was a little guy. No, I didn’t understand money or wealth (no kid really does) but I DID understand happiness. When I blew out my birthday candles I always wished that I could be Superman. I also wanted to be a pro baseball player. Again, not for the fame and fortune, but because I could spend my life doing something I loved; playing.
By age 18, I came to the realization that I’d never play professional baseball (I’m still holding out for Superman) and I eventually did what everybody has to do . . . wake up and join the “real world.” Lots of meaningless jobs led me to a sportswriter job which actually fit me.
I wasn’t making very much money there, though, and so my “new dreams” became about fame and financial success. But that’s all they were; dreams. Dreams with no action. A recurring daydream that I didn’t know was a dream. And suddenly ten years went down the river.
Thank goodness I was only 33 when, through a combination of ambition and good fortune, I woke up and learned that people also have the ability to alter their “real-life” dreams. The good ones! And over the past 17 years I’ve been living that dream of fame and fortune and, most importantly; playing!
I meet so many people that are still stuck in their nightmares. They don’t understand that all it takes is to realize the nightmare and alter it. Then there are many people who aren’t in nightmares at all, but they spend so much of their time doing things they don’t enjoy doing. They’ve stopped dreaming altogether. They’re just “existing” their way through life and watching the years evaporating behind them. I see it in peoples’ eyes and it makes me sad.
I wish I could encourage more people to “dust off their dreams.”
As my girls get ready for the last day of school (and summer vacation) I think back on that exciting feeling. Remember? No more school! For the next few months, you can do pretty much anything you want! Stay up late, sleep in, play with your friends, have fun every day!