Tragic Optimism Can Help Even on the Darkest Days

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It’s a mess out there right now. With the pandemic, riots, looting and killer bees on their way, it’s like we’re trapped in some sci-fi movie. The only difference is – we don’t know when this story will end. So how do you deal with all the fear and confusion and anger.

Something that helps me is knowing that there is a choice. Every morning when you wake up, you get to choose how you will spend that day; you get to choose if your emotions will consume you or enlighten you. Make no mistake about it, you are the only one who can make that choice.

Yes, there are days when it is hard to find the good, I’m not denying that. Other days when it’s beyond difficult to find a reason to get out of bed. On those days, remember the words of the famous holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl: “tragic optimism”. He said that to survive the concentration camps, it helped him and others find meaning in every single day.

Now, I’m not asking you to deny your emotions. In fact, I encourage you to feel the anger and the sadness and the pain. Just don’t let them consume you. No matter how dark a situation may be, look for that flicker of light. Make a choice to find meaning in every single day and ask yourself each morning: What can I intentionally do today that will bring meaning to my life.


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Instinct – aka: That Feeling in the Pit of Your Stomach

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In last week’s blog post, I told you about the bird’s nest I found hidden in the flower pot right outside my front door.

Well, this week I’m thrilled to announce that the babies have arrived!

When I first saw them all curled up together, I couldn’t help but whisper in a sing-song voice:

“Good Morning”.

Suddenly, six hungry mouths opened wide. It was absolutely hysterical!!!

It truly amazed me – how did this little bird know how to build this nest, and more importantly, find a safe place to hide it? How did she learn to protect her babies?

Instinct – that’s all I could think of.

And you know what? We have that same instinct inside of us. It’s that feeling we get in the pit of our stomach, telling us that something isn’t quite right.

It might be:
Don’t walk down that dark street – it doesn’t feel safe
Don’t take this job – it’s not what you’re looking for
Don’t stay in this relationship – you can definitely do better

The trick is to listen to it. Sure, you can come up with lots of excuses to ignore it. But I’m guessing, just like that little bird knows how to protect her babies, you also know how to protect yourself. You know what’s best for your own survival.

Pay attention to that feeling in your gut, listen to that inner voice. It may know you better than you know yourself.

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Stand Your Ground

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Like I mentioned in my previous blog, I learned three distinct life lessons from the Polar Bears.  On my recent trip to Churchill, Canada, I saw these animals in the wild, and I couldn’t help but notice how their behavior can be adapted to our everyday life.

Last week, I talked about focusing on your goal – relentlessly.  Well, today, the second lesson I’m going to share is: Stand Your Ground.

You may be thinking: “What in the world is she talking about?”

But here’s how I see it.  You’ve decided on a goal, you’re passionate about it, you’ve thought it through and you can describe it down to the last detail.  In fact you can feel it in your bones.  You can see it, smell it, taste it, and you live for it every single day, working toward it with a vengeance.


When you share your vision with someone – a friend, family member, anyone who will listen – their reaction isn’t exactly what you expected.  They may doubt you, question you, and even worse, cause you to lose belief in yourself.  Without even realizing it, you begin to reevaluate your goal.  You wonder if it was such a good idea in the first place.  You question if this is the right direction for you.

And that is what I learned from the polar bears – STAND YOUR GROUND.  Because the bears  are left to their own devices to survive, they must have a belief in themselves that is beyond doubt.  They stand tall and move forward, never losing sight of their goal.

So, don’t be frightened by what others think, and don’t feel like you have to justify anything.  Stand up tall, and in the face of diversity, show how powerful you can really be.

Have a belief in yourself, in your goal, and tell the world that it cannot be shaken.

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