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Optimism and its impact on life

Optimism and its impact on life
A few months ago I had the privilege of meeting a really amazing couple. They are both in their early thirties and have had to face more trials than most people do in a life time, if ever.
In July 2011, Naven the husband, was completely paralysed from the chest down after a tragic car accident. From the time that he was told of his condition, basically that he only had use of his shoulders, arms and thankfully full brain functioning, he made a decision. He chose to live.
Naven Really Chose to Live
I don’t mean that he didn’t do anything like try and take his life etc but that he really chose to live. Despite being told that his company no longer had a position available for him due to him being wheelchair bound, a case which he is still fighting, he has embraced his new life with all the courage and enthusiasm that I have ever seen.
He is supported by his amazing wife and lovely five year old daughter. Together this family have had to move home, to accommodate Naven’s new lifestyle and together they are living a fun and active life. Naven has set several goals for himself, of which one was to stand and be able to move around with callipers on his legs, this he has done successfully.
This is made possible by Naven’s three hour gym work out every day to make his arms and shoulders strong enough to support his body weight on crutches – this is no mean feat for a man in excess of six foot. His longer term goal is to compete at the next para-olympics. We are working to support Naven on this as we try to acquire a racing wheel chair that will be suitable for him. Everything comes at a huge cost but we are confident that somehow we will make this happen.
Story of Bravery and Courage
So why am I sharing this story of bravery and courage? Honestly, because how many times in our lives do we feel sorry for ourselves, feel that we are victims of our circumstances and that we don’t always have choices in our lives. Well you know what, Naven and Lee didn’t choose for this accident to happen or for their lives to change so dramatically but it did and they decided to make a choice – to live a new but equally fulfilling life to the one they had before.
They embrace their lives as they now are, face each challenge head on and keep moving forward. In addition, Naven now also does amazing charity work especially at schools for the disabled.
What is it that Naven (and Lee) have that stops them falling into the victim trap and gives them the energy to keep moving forward in this positive and selfless manner?
This is what we call OPTIMISM.
Optimism Allows us to See Beyond the Present
Optimism allows us to see beyond the present and take ownership of the future (ref Heart of Leadership by Joshua Freedman). Optimism is what energizes us and is essential to restore your vitality. One of the main causes of stress is when we perceive that we have no choice and are powerless, this leads to pessimistic thinking.
The good thing is that optimism can be learnt and it has been shown that optimists live longer, are more successful and have better relationships. The secret to optimism is challenging our inner voices that say things will never get better and I am helpless to change it.
So when next faced with a challenge ask yourself;
  • Is this situation permanent – will it last forever or is it temporary?
  • Is it all encompassing or is it isolated ie doesn’t have to affect your entire life
  • Finally if you put in enough effort can you change the situation or your feelings around this?
Six Seconds : The TIE Method
Six seconds call this the TIE method (TEMPORARY, ISOLATED, EFFORT). So next time you are feeling helpless and can’t see your way out of your negative situation, try asking yourself those questions and then remember what Naven has achieved and continues to achieve.
Optimism predicts 20.5% of health – so do you really want to be a pessimist?