Optimism 2020: A Manifesto

Choosing Optimism

I received some feedback from coworkers last year that I could perhaps be a little more positive. So in early January, before Corona had presented itself as a significant threat, I created a personal slogan for the year.

I called it Optimism 2020.

I was so sick of hearing about the presidential election, I wanted to create my ownkind of campaign for 2020.

A campaign to change my own thinking.

I’ve always felt like one needs to be able to justify their optimism. Which is stupid… the whole point of optimism is being able to think and dream beyond whatever your current situation is.

But I wasn’t mentally there yet, so I created Optimism2020 as a personal rallying call that would give me an excuse to be positive.

And now it turns out 2020 is quite the freaking year to start actively choosing to be optimistic. It’s like the pessimist’s nightmare become real… “the one time I try and be positive LOOK WHAT HAPPENS.”

Which honestly makes it the best possible time to increase one’s optimism. What better test for choosing optimism than the biggest worldwide crisis in possibly a hundred years.

To that end, I wanted to make Optimism 2020 official today and announce it to the world.

And so I created the below manifesto.

Optimism 2020: A Manifesto

1) Focus your time & attention on the things you can influence.

2) Do something today instead of daydreaming about tomorrow.

3) See problems as opportunities to learn, grow, and give meaning to our lives.

4) Keep promises to yourself, no matter how small. Telling yourself you’ll go on a walk and then doing it. Promising to call a friend, and doing it. Committing to your boss you’ll send that email, and doing it.

5) Have confidence you’ll be able to figure out how to fix that thing that just broke.

6) Choose carefully the stories you tell yourself about who you are and what you’re capable of.

7) Move fast. Most decisions can be reversed later.

8) Be you. Not because you’re entitled to be heard but because there is some unique thing you have to offer, if you can find it.

9) Believe we can think, and build, and create ourselves out of any problem.

10) Internalize that the pie is not fixed, that life is not zero sum.

11) Focus on why something could work instead of why it won’t.

12) See yourself as part of the solution, not a victim of the problem.

13) Pay for the drive thru order of the car behind you.

14) Recognize problems as temporary and specific, not permanent and expansive.

15) Believe problems are solvable. Maybe not right away, probably not easily, but that it can be done.

This was originally published in my free weekly newsletter, How It Actually Works.

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Spanish translation

Arabic translation

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