Living the Philosophy of Optimism | Inspirational Podcasts

Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you in part by Book of Zen, makers of inspirational fashion and gift ideas. Visit them online at BookofZen.com. Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from the work of Helen Keller, who despite being both deaf and blind, lived a life of unbridled optimism and accomplishment.

The test of all beliefs is their practical effect in life. If it be true that optimism compels the world forward, and pessimism retards it, then it is dangerous to propagate a pessimistic philosophy. One who believes that the pain in the world outweighs the joy, and expresses that unhappy conviction, only adds to the pain.

Schopenhauer is an enemy to the race. Even if he earnestly believed that this is the most wretched of possible worlds, he should not promulgate a doctrine which robs men and women of the incentive to fight with circumstance. If Life gave Schopenhauer ashes for bread, it was his fault. Life is a fair field for most of us, and the right will prosper, if we stand by our guns.

Let pessimism once take hold of the mind, and life is all topsy-turvy, all vanity and vexation of spirit. There is no cure for individual or social disorder, except in forgetfulness and annihilation. “Let us eat, drink and be merry,” says the pessimist, “for to-morrow we die.”

But if I (being deaf and blind) regarded my life from the point of view of such pessimism, I would be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears. I should beg night and day and never be satisfied. I should sit apart in awful solitude, a prey to fear and despair. But since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation.

Who shall dare let their incapacity for hope or goodness cast a shadow upon the courage of those who bear their burdens as if they were privileges? The optimist cannot fall back, cannot falter; for we know our neighbors will be hindered by our failure to keep in line. We will therefore hold our place fearlessly and remember the duty of silence.

Sufficient unto each heart is its own sorrow. We will take the iron claws of circumstance in our hands and use them as tools to break away the obstacles that block our paths. We will work as if upon us alone depended the establishment of heaven on earth.

Let it be remembered that the world’s philosophers—the Sayers of the Word—were optimists; so also are the men and women of action and achievement—the Doers of the Word. No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.

The optimist believes, attempts, achieves. They stand always in the sunlight. Some days the wonderful, the inexpressible, arrives and shines upon them, and they are there to welcome it. The soul of the optimist meets its own and beats a glad march to every new discovery, every fresh victory over difficulties, every addition to human knowledge and happiness.

We have recognized that our great philosophers and great men and women of action are optimists. So, too, our most potent writers have been optimists in their books and in their lives. No pessimist ever won an audience commensurately wide with their genius. And many optimistic writers have been read and admired out of all measure to their talents, simply because they wrote of the sunlit side of life.

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