Optimism in Practice

In my last blog I discussed the case for optimism, re-characterizing this extremely difficult period of economic turmoil as a necessary transition to a period of possibility best approached with openness rather than fear. That begs the question as to how to participate in this process in order to take full advantage of the opportunities it presents.

This is where Elizabeth Gilbert, speaking at TED, is so wonderful. In discussing the pressure she felt to write a follow-up novel equal to the success of her international bestseller, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, she articulated in brilliant terms where the responsibility for those much needed ideas or solutions resides. To everyone’s relief, she explains, it is not with us.

The inspiration, genius, or elusive idea we seek ultimately doesn’t come from us but is loaned by whatever creative force informs all our existence. This force is given various names by different cultures, but no matter how you conceive or articulate it, your role is to simply show up, do your work and trust that a force far greater than yourself and even more capable of solving your problems is constantly at work around you.

So the case for optimism is two-fold; firstly, from the point of being expedient during a period of painful but necessary transition; and secondly, from a practical point of view, in that we can rest assured that the responsibility for generating those new ideas lies not with us but with a higher creative force that cannot help but speak through us as long as we remain open. That undefined but undeniable force requires only our participation for its wonder and our new world to emerge.