Embrace Optimism

“The most important thing is to teach your kids to be optimists—to train them to be optimists—because without that, you’re lost. With the ability to see the silver lining, to see the benefits of even a very dire situation, you can at least look for and see solutions. And if you conversely have a pessimistic lens, you could look at the same situation and see only problems.”
—Mike Maples to Tim Ferriss

Optimism is a childlike state, an outlook on life that is rooted in a certain amount of blissful or perhaps even willful naiveté. It is the perspective that, one way or another, things will always work out, that, no matter how far down we go, there is always an upside. Optimism is the ability to find hope in the hopeless, light in the darkness, and opportunity in emptiness.

Life is not always great, it does not always go smoothly, and it certainly does not always go as we planned it. As children, all we see is hope and possibility, but, as we get older and have more experiences, experiences that hurt us, frighten us, and cause us worry, pain, anger, and grief, we are given many reasons to be pessimistic and cynical. To remain optimistic through all of this, in spite of all of this, becomes a choice.

We will all have troubles, trials, and even tragedies in our lives, but we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our loved ones, and we owe it to the future we will create though our mindset and our actions based on that mindset to remain hopeful and to create hopefulness in others. As adults, optimism is the conscious choice to see the world like a child, to look for the bright side, to see the world as a place of color and joy, and to add light, smiles, and laughter to every situation and relationship we find ourselves in. It is up to us, each and every day, to embrace the childlike state that is optimism and create the world we envision and hope for.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

‘Dress and Scar’ artwork by Ana

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