Many optimists I've met seem to maintain their positive worldview by ignoring all the selfish, shallow, downright evil energy in the world, or pretending that it isn't there, but Brody gives ballast to her half-full mindset by starting off with clear-eyed realism:
"Unlike Voltaire’s Candide, I’ve yet to be stripped of my optimism, though there are clearly forces in this country and the world that could subdue even the most ardent optimist.
"I am a realist, after all, and I do fret over things I may be able to do little or nothing about directly: economic injustice; wars and the repeated failure to learn from history; our gun-crazy society; the overreliance on tests to spur academic achievement; and attempts to strip women of their reproductive rights."
"Murphy’s Law — 'Anything that can go wrong will go wrong' — is the antithesis of optimism. In a book called 'Breaking Murphy’s Law,' Suzanne C. Segerstrom, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky, explained that optimism is not about being positive so much as it is about being motivated and persistent.
Dr. Segerstrom and other researchers have found that rather than giving up and walking away from difficult situations, optimists attack problems head-on. They plan a course of action, getting advice from others and staying focused on solutions."
"With the right guidance, many of the attributes of optimism also can be learned by adults, Dr. Segerstrom and other researchers have found.
"Noting that it is easier to change behavior than emotions, she eschews the popular saying 'Don’t worry, be happy.' Instead, she endorses a form of cognitive behavioral therapy: Act first and the right feelings will follow. As she puts it in her book, 'Fake it until you make it.'
"She wrote, 'People can learn to be more optimistic by acting as if they were more optimistic,' which means 'being more engaged with and persistent in the pursuit of goals.'”
In the final section of the article, entitled "Framing Your Thoughts," Brody writes:
"Both Dr. Segerstrom and the Mayo researchers recommend taking a few minutes at the end of each day to write down three positive things that happened that day, ending the day on an upbeat note."
I don't know that I would call myself an optimist just yet, but I'm working on it.