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  • Writer's pictureMark Olivito

The Spark of Optimism

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

Pessimism is one of life’s great energy suckers. It is flat out draining, and at times, SELF DESTRUCTING.

Optimism is Pessimism’s arch rival. It’s the force multiplier for action and positive energy. It came to life last week on a trip….

On a business trip last week, I had the privilege of traveling with some fascinating, lifelong Memphians and we talked about a variety of topics. But the most fascinating (to me at least) was when a past blog post was brought to life and we all went through one of life’s great questions: Where are you from? It’s a question that never fails to reveal a gold mine of learning….

One thing has struck me over the past year: Memphis seems to be in a consistent fight with a self-imposed image problem. I hear countless people focus on problems, almost all negative, with no end in sight. It’s a complex indeed.

I find it odd when people speak negatively about the very place they choose to call home. The reasons are far and near, from crime, politics, school systems, you name it. I’ve lived in multiple cities in a handful of states: NJ, MA, CT, IL, OH, and Memphis for past 7+ years. And I have never seen a city that fight with negativity more than Memphis. And I still can’t figure it out. Yes Memphis has some problems it deals with.

EVERY city has their challenges, no exceptions. In short, Pessimism often tips the scales on the “sentiment” of Memphis.

But the negativity was nowhere to be found on this trip, far from it. What did we talk about?

  • Great restaurants, one after the other. From dive bars with great sliders to white table cloth to Vietnamese…

  • Great entertainment, family entertainment and surprise visits from stars in great local venues

  • Infrastructure that has great building blocks for a foundation of growth

  • Cost of living advantages, character and grit. Great hotels, spots for a quick weekend getaway with family or just a couples retreat.

  • And in a meeting this week, something simple that too many take for granted: “Great tap water, no need for bottles!”

In short, what I took away is Optimism, not Pessimism. 2 views of the world that were could not be more opposite.

After the trip I started writing things down. Places to explore and visit that I have not yet done. A feeling of possibilities. Then I texted my wife with a couple, told her to check them out so we find them. And her excitement increased too.

Don’t think psychology matters for economies and wealth? May I present you the stock market! Many a fortune has been made or lost on less than rational thinking, but I digress….

What if I was not engaged with Optimism for multiple hours? What if I were speaking with Pessimists who found every reason to feel bad about the place they call home?

I’m a pretty thick skinned person who always believes tomorrow will be better than today. But I would be flat out lying to say I would have texted my wife with an idea or two had I’d been with Debbie Downers. In fact, 4 hours of negativity probably would not have ended there.

Whether we like it or not, intense negativity lingers in the brain, few people are able to completely hit the Ctrl-Alt-Delete reset button on negative experiences. The only way not to endure this? Try your best to avoid negativity. Like the plague.

Optimism by its very nature is contagious. Unfortunately, so is Pessimism.

Optimism is a spark that creates forward momentum, energy and action. Positive change.

Sometimes, the change is something simple, like a text message to your wife.

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