Look for situations where the energy is already flowing downhill. Invest in relationships where there is already mutual respect. Create products that tap into a desire people already have. Work on projects that play to your strengths.
And then, once the potential of the situation is already working for you, add fuel to the fire. Pour yourself into the craft. Act as if you have to outwork everyone else—even though the wind is at your back.
The idea is to sprint downhill, not grind uphill.
— James Clear
I’ve been feeling very fortunate lately to have many friends, time to invest in self-care, and enough opportunities to create a path I can be proud to walk along. And it’s all helped by being an optimist by nature, which is something I no longer doubt coming into 2023.
Intuition has been a great guide for most of my life’s decisions: teaching me who I am early on as I weaved the inadvertent hard lessons from dating, building relationships, and work into my current values. All so I would learn how to see a light at the end of any situation and through the mist of any confusion or uncertainty. The past three years were then about carefully curating the best of my intuition in order to forge it with excellent execution. It has been one of the most important steps in my life because intuition and execution are very different. And, as Ava says, we tend to underestimate or overestimate the difficulty of the execution step.
I experienced heartbreaks, loss, financial struggle, near-death accidents and mental difficulties from bullying early in life. I’m also glad I did. I wouldn’t describe my life as “tough” by any means, but as one of my readers once told me: tough is relative—a definition derived from personal interpretation. I like to be mindful that others have it worse in this world. But that doesn’t mean I don’t ever have it rough. It’s something I need to learn I guess.
Anyway. Despite all of this, I’ve always been seen as a very positive person, even since I was a kid. An energy giver. It means a lot to me. And a few emotional stories I heard much later about the positive impact I tried to have on people from friends and family when I was younger are now some of my favourite memories.
To get a little more granular, my tendency to be overly optimistic sits deep between the grooves of my happiest moments. I’ve only appreciated this recently. The incredible people I’ve met, the places and events I got to experience in awe, and the work I’ve created so far—which has already awarded me some amazing opportunities. This would have hardly been possible if I wasn’t myself—someone I struggled to support in the past.
I’ve always been someone who tilts the scales towards positivity. The importance of rational optimism aside, I see no point in being unduly negative about life or when something in or out of our control goes wrong. And I see little use for worry. It’s not always easy, but I know that what often goes against us is not the end of the world. Don’t get me wrong: it’s okay to feel emotions, to let it all get to you for a moment and make room for natural feelings. But many people design themselves to want negativity and carry tainted memories throughout their lives. I’ve never been able to understand that.
I feel optimism in every nucleus of every cell I have. I strive for soft skin and a strong core. Because, in essence, I want to be better at taking what’s necessary (and sometimes unnecessary) criticism and challenge without it indenting my values or being a negative-sum effect. And I want to be the person who helps infuse optimism and happiness within everyone I meet.
Not everyone I meet will want to share the same level of optimism. And not everyone will even agree with how I think, move, and live. That’s okay. I’m not here to preach and force my values down anyone’s throats. Smart people like to let their actions talk and share positive-sum without needing to manipulate anything. Plus, happiness to me is partly choosing to leave a lasting positive impression on the world through being myself.
And lately, I’ve seen how it all works.
I booked a deep-tissue massage as part of a ritual to start the year well. I usually ask for the same therapist as they remember my weakest areas, and we tend to have quite stoic conversations.
I’m an advocate for regular massages and therapy. They can be costly, but the benefits easily outweigh it—especially if you want to avoid pain or deeper problems later in life. Deep tissue massages are one of the best (and most painful) things you can do for your body. It seems a little bit like torture—but trust me, it is no gimmick. It’s like a therapy that helps alleviate all the tension, anger or resentment you’ve been holding onto. You learn how to tactfully understand and strip away layers of stress, one by one. Both mentally and physically. Two birds with one stone.
She was running late. And the massage started off silent. But once things settled in and the feeling of rush began to evaporate, she broke the silence and said randomly, “I can tell you are a very positive person positive person and people want to be around you”.
Puzzled, I replied, “What makes you think that?” She then said proudly, “I can tell. I can feel it in your energy.”
I was trying to work it out in my head. I know optimism is an energy I want people to see and sense. But is it really that fragrant? We hadn’t spoken before this. And yet, she said it was something she could feel. After that, we chatted non-stop for the entire hour. She gave me her lessons about life, hardships, happiness and work. And I learned so much from her, which put a huge smile on my face. I can be forever grateful for that moment.
Another example like this was at my job recently. I love the people there. And they seemingly love to give praise more than I feel is necessary—though it’s a beautiful thing, and I’m grateful for it as I know how rare it can be. During a team bonding day, we played a game that required a leader to be elected. My team instantly elected me. And despite unelecting myself, I was re-elected, being told they strongly believed I would make a great leader. Later during the game, we had a conversation that went deeper than expected about working with me—and me saying how important they are as colleagues in keeping me going and enjoying what I do. I used to fear toxic work cultures, but I lose all sense of it here. It’s a nice feeling when there’s a healthy balance of fun and laughter versus seriousness and professionalism.
So what has given me the ability to be a consistently positive person in other people’s eyes, to be the type of person people want to spend time with? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s to do with the fact I care about making people feel heard and understood. I don’t mean I go up to every stranger or friend trying to cheer them up. But I love to listen. I love to help people open up without the worry of judgement and act without the fear of failure. I don’t desire these things—I don’t get strange urges to do them because the outcome might help me feel better. I do these things because positivity is my happiness in motion. To be positive, smile, laugh, and enjoy the moments we often let fly by. That’s what happiness is. As Charles Kingsley says, “all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about”.