An Affirmation of Optimism
I must offer special thanks to Rebekah Basinger, author of the blog Generous Matters, who’s catchy blog title “Thumbs Up to Optimism” caught my eye the other day. Despite my often self-proclaimed cynicism, I’m a sucker for optimism, hope, positive transformational change, and the like. I had to read through Basinger’s blog and even clicked through to read the Time magazine article she referenced, “The Optimism Bias.”
Here’s the bottom line folks – we are optimistic creatures. According to the Time article authored by Tali Sharot, “both neuroscience and social science suggest that we are more optimistic than realistic.” Science appears to be on the side of community benefit organizations (CBOs) that count on leveraging hope and optimism to make social change. As someone who has made their career in CBO management (a move my parents probably deemed more optimistic than realistic) I could not be more thrilled.
The “optimism bias” that Sharot refers to is inspirational, keeping people moving forward rather than just throwing up their hands and calling it quits. Inspiration and forward movement are valuable capital for CBOs that need both staff and supporters to remain confident about the visions and missions that drive the work and the courses that they are following. I whole-heartedly second Basinger’s “thumbs up” to the men and women who are called to serve the community, who wake up ever-enthusiastic that more people will embrace their cause than not, and who demonstrate their optimism with gifts of time and finances. These truly are signs of hope.
I consider myself blessed because each and every day I have the opportunity to imagine a future reality that – optimistically – is better than today’s reality. I am blessed to embrace a job that will never be done because we can always improve. Why wouldn’t we want to? Let’s set goals and achieve them. Let’s create a world that is safer, healthier, more positive, more compassionate… more optimistic. Complaining gets us nowhere and is a big turn off.
It’s time for CBOs to embrace science – the science of optimism – and reap the benefits and rewards that it offers to our present and our future.
Ifeoma Aduba, AWP Associate Director