In The Trenches

Spreading Optimism

Published on January 24, 2022 Back to blog
A sampling of my “Life is Good”​ collection

Those who know me well, know that I’m a big fan of Life is Good. Not only do I love their products (and, according to my wife, wear them a bit beyond their “expiration date”), but I also love what they stand for. In short: optimism. So, when I had the chance to interview Steve Gross, the Chief Playmaker at Life is Good Kid’s Foundation, on our Brand Heart Podcast earlier this month, I jumped at the opportunity. 

In my brief interview with Steve, the power of optimism became more apparent than ever. I walked away from our conversation with a big smile on my face, a renewed/enhanced sense of confidence, and the inspiration to share the “gospel” with others. Here are a few key takeaways.

  1. Optimism is a state of mind. We are not optimists or pessimists. It is not a binary trait. Optimism is one of many ways in which we view life and the world around us. The challenge is in finding and acknowledging the good amidst the bad (which often tends to overshadow all else). 
  2. Bad is often the impetus to good. Society tends to focus on the negative. However, it’s often the bad things in life that give rise to and/or help us appreciate the good. Consider how many amazing non-profits, advocacy groups, and social movements have been started as a result of something negative. That’s certainly something to be positive about. 
  3. The silver lining can be hard to find. I’m writing this post on a flight home from my brother-in-law’s funeral, where I am beyond saddened. But, I find some comfort in knowing that he left this world with little suffering, while in a beautiful place (Patagonia) with one of his favorite people (his daughter). Try to find the silver lining.
  4. Show, don’t tell. Few people like to be told to “look on the bright side” or even worse, “cheer up.” That’s not welcome in times of suffering or grief. The best way to spread optimism is by demonstrating it. Just like a good hearty laugh, optimism is contagious. (Be careful, so is pessimism.)
  5. Optimism takes practice. Society teaches us at an early age to dwell on the negative. It’s like having an incredible vacation with the family, but then telling everyone about your lost luggage when they ask how it was. (Hey, it takes practice. I’m working on it…)

Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. And, it’s often challenging to be optimistic in times of darkness (and a global pandemic). But, infusing a bit of optimism (different than being 100% optimistic), can often ease the pain and lead to a more positive outlook. I’m certainly going to take Steve’s message to heart. I hope you do too. (Listen here for the full podcast interview.)

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners