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Being Optimistic When
Things Suck

As I write this article, the world is being gripped by a complicated and gloomy financial situation. Much of this has been caused by people trying to make a lot of dishonest money. The rest of it can be attributed to many things, but my opinion is that one of the biggest factors is the negative energy spread by the media. For the last six months, average American citizens have pulled their money out of banks, avoided buying items, and have generally put out a whole lot of pessimism into the world. This has only fanned the fire, allowing it to spread. We should put an end to this rampant negativity. We must begin to take life with a grain of sugar.

A recession is a great time to take a risk. I'm not talking about throwing your money into some commodity. For better or worse, I don't know enough about stocks to advise you :). I mean that you should double your effort creatively. Now, you might have a feeling that since it's an economic hard time you have less of chance at succeeding creatively. The opposite couldn't be more true.

Since the recession began, TV watching is up, movie theater attendance is on the rise, and library patronage has grown as well. Whether it be for escapism or the realization that more expensive forms of recreation are not valuable enough, the number of eyes on creative work is rising. So what are you doing to take advantage of this?

Well, there are a few things you shouldn't be doing. You should not be sitting on the couch watching the Dow Jones numbers. You should not be checking CNN.com every couple of hours to read about the latest statistic or story that proves, "we're in trouble." Lastly, you should not be waiting for our world leaders to solve the crisis in one fell swoop.

First, you need to prove to yourself that you have the ability to create good in the world, not only for yourself but others. This includes the belief that things are going to turn out well for you. Second, you need to take action steps to prove that these beliefs will in fact come to pass. 

Reprogramming Yourself

It all starts with a desire to change. A few years ago, I knew that being optimistic would bring me more abundance than a pessimistic one. I held in mind the thought that I wanted to be more positive. Then I looked for parts of my life that needed to change to make that happen.

I found that verbally agreeing with the negative things that other people said was counter to what I wanted. I began to look for the positive response instead of responding like the negative drone I used to be. If someone said that the weather was gross, I would talk about the plants getting water. If a person brought up not wanting to go to work, I'd bring up the good he was bringing to others and the support he was bringing his family. I would stop myself from using my gut reaction and I would replace it with the way a person who is being optimistic all the time would react. Eventually, I started to shift into fully believing the things I was saying.

A few things happened from this simple change in language. I felt better about myself and the things I was doing. It was as if I had begun to respond to my subconscious pessimist with a new conscious optimist. The negative friends and acquaintances I had formed began to drift away from me. I resisted at first, but it was definitely for the best. Lastly, I attracted more positive people to replace the negative folks. By adding these new influences, it was even easier to be more positive.

The next step is to not worry about setbacks. Every so often, I will say, do, or surround myself with something negative. It is an old habit that is hard to break. An awful thing may happen to you or a loved one and you can feel that negativity creeping back in. Don't give up. Just know that you will be able to come back to the positive side of things. Know that even though it is difficult to stay emotionally afloat in these situations, it will help you so much more in the long run. 

The final step is believing that what you're doing is helping people and that it has the ability to succeed. The mindsets of "I wrote some stuff and it's just OK" or "This junk will probably never get me anywhere" are of no use to you. You need to convince yourself in whatever way possible that what you are doing is valuable. Write down a list of all the ways your writing can help people. Then write a list of the ways in which your writing can be successful for those purposes. Put together a self-presentation or write an essay about it. Figure out something, anything that will flip that switch that lets you know that what you're doing is worth it.

You may find that this change leads to opening the floodgate with new ideas and the sudden desire to write profusely. Do not worry. This is a normal reaction :). 


You have proven that thinking good thoughts trumps thinking bad thoughts. You know the ways in which your writing helps the world and that even (or especially) in a recession it can succeed. Now, you must create!

Do what you do best even if you don't see an immediate payoff. At the time of this post, I have written nearly forty articles and I have received absolutely no money from them. But I know that I am creating value and eventually that will lead to some kind of success. You need to take a chance with your new desires of being optimistic that what you're doing now will eventually help you reach the heights you dream of.

Trash the old phrase, "take it with a grain of salt." Believe in yourself, your work, and the potential of your future. Take it with a grain of sugar.

Related Articles
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Done with Being Optimistic?
Go back to "Personal Time Management"

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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