#OverstatingProblems #optimists #pessimists #poverty
“Can’t overstating problem energize us in terms of solving them?”
So asked Philip Galanes, during lunch with Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University and author of 10 books.
Galanes wrote about his conversation with the two for The New York Times. The article was also published in the Feb. 11, 2018, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“There’s a paradox in letting yourself be very, very upset about what remains to be done (for the common good),” Gates said. “There are still parts of the world that are still like 40 years ago. But to read (Pinker’s) book and think it says, ‘don’t worry, be happy’ (borrowing from a Bobby McFerrin title), is to misread it. Because seeing the world through the eyes of that poor kid ideally wants to make you give some money, even though there are many fewer such kids than 50 years ago,” Gates said.
“Extreme global poverty has been reduced from 90 percent 200 years ago to 10 percent today. That’s great! Or you can say: more than 700 million people in the world live in extreme poverty today. They’re the same fact, and you have to be able to describe them to yourself in both ways,” Pinker says.
This snippet of a long conversation illustrates that there is more than one way to look at the world.
Some of the information we hear would lead us to believe that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and perhaps we need to straighten it out. Or, others would have us believe that past efforts to solve problems have had a great effect, and that, though the problems are not completely solved, the situation is much better than it was years ago.
It’s perhaps the classic difference between an optimist and a pessimist. The old adage talks about viewing a glass of water as either half empty or half full. But it is more than that.
It starts with how you feel about yourself each time you wake up in the morning, or later in the day if you work at night. Is every day you do so a good day? Or, is it just another day?
Do you long for weekends, and dread the weekdays? Do you feel as if you are on a treadmill during the week, and finally get a break from it on weekends (or whatever your regular days off might be)?
Experts say you can change how you think. You can take stock of what’s good in your life, and be thankful, rather than think of what’s not so good and be resentful, or sad, or feel doomed.
You can think about what you really want in life, or you can presume you’ll never get what you really want, and settle for something OK, or tolerable.
You can see retirement as a goal to allow you to do what you want, or you can do what you want sooner, rather than later. Or, worse yet, you can see yourself as working at a job you hate until you die.
So, are you thankful, or dreadful (meaning full of dread, as opposed to an awful person)? Give yourself a break. Always – and you can pull this off – look at yourself as blessed and grateful.
If you need a vehicle to help you turn your life around, there are several such vehicles out there for those willing to look for them. To check out one of the best, message me.
Meanwhile, if you are on that treadmill of dread, stay on it only as long as you need to. Start looking for things that will help get you off it.
Your thoughts have the power to improve your life. Be an optimist, for there are very few, if any, successful pessimists. Take stock of the good in your life and build on it. It could start you on a path that will allow you to achieve your dreams sooner rather than later.


Smile when you talk.
Sweat the small stuff.
Get your hopes up.
Andy Andrews, a New York Times best-selling author, discussed these simple ideas at a presentation Aug. 3, 2012, at the Team National convention in Orlando, Fla.
Let’s take them one at a time. Have you ever talked to people who always seem to have a scowl when they speak? Life has gotten them so down, and they are so miserable, that they – at least subconsciously – want to drag you down with them.
There are others who are so angry much of the time that you can hear their anger, even if they are not angry at you. They have that look about them. You could be talking about something funny, and they would still have that anger about them.
Then, there are those who smile when they talk. They just seem to exude a persona that you would gravitate to. To a few folks, smiling while talking comes naturally. Most, however, have to work at it. Andrews, who wrote “The Butterfly Effect,” among other books, believes smiling while talking is the key to health and wealth. If people want to be around you, they are more than likely to do business with you, or otherwise want to work with you.
Smiling does not mean a big, toothy grin. It means always having a happy look as your mouth moves. It’s OK that it may not come naturally. But if you work at it, it may become more natural with time. Of course, the key is to always be happy, even when things are not going as you would like them. People want to be around happy people. Good things will come to those who smile while talking.
Smiling while talking may seem like a little thing, but Andrews, and others, have said that we need to be concerned about little things. When someone says to you, “don’t sweat the small stuff,” think about how successful they are at whatever they are doing. Successful people sweat the small stuff. They watch what they eat. They watch what they do. They watch what they say. It’s the small stuff that people see. If they see attention to the small stuff, like always showing up for appointments on time, they will believe you’ll be a great performer on the bigger things.
Even things like buying – or not buying – that candy bar can make a difference. The extra calories will require some effort to work off. It’s likely overpriced — $1 or more. So the buck you spend is a buck that you don’t have any more to use again. Multiply those bucks over weeks, months and years, and you see why Andrews says to sweat the small stuff.
When you start a job, project or something for which there is a long-term commitment, has someone ever told you not to get your hopes up? When you apply for a job, has someone ever told you not to get your hopes up, because if you don’t get it, you’ll take the rejection better?
Most successful people are optimists. They ALWAYS have hope. They approach everything they do anticipating, even expecting, good outcomes. They know not every outcome is going to work out, but they also know that expecting failure begets failure. If you expect success, you’ll see success. If you expect good things in the future, they will come. So, go ahead. Get your hopes up!
Incidently, if you are the optimist who watches the little things and smiles when he talks, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. It will enhance your hope, make you sweat less and encourage you to smile!