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Image: child holding an adults hand, walking away from the camera into the woods towards the sun

Why Optimism Is Our Most Powerful Tool for Change

Can we transform the reality we’re given into the reality we want?  What if being optimistic wasn’t a passive “Pollyanna” mindset, but a headstrong, stubborn refusal of anything other than the life we desire? Christiana Figueres, one of the world’s most accomplished diplomats, is about to show us all a novel yet familiar way to get the results we want: a little notion she coined stubborn optimism.

What if we dug in our heels and said “no” to the doom of whatever impending future we’re presented? Would that really change anything? Let’s hear what Christiana has to say on being stubbornly optimistic about our future, and how this can usher in a brighter reality for us all—even in some of our biggest fights, like climate change!

Image: child holding an adults hand, walking away from the camera into the woods towards the sun
Source: Pixabay

“Optimism means envisioning our desired future and then actively pulling it closer.”

—Christiana Figueres

Now, that’s a different definition of good ol’ optimism, isn’t it? Any goal, any vision for our future requires that we approach it with this state of mind. We have to believe a brighter future is possible before we can start reaching for it. I mean, when was the last time you hit something out of the park after having a pessimistic view of your likelihood of success the whole time? In order for success to happen, we first need to believe it will. It’s as simple as that.

Being the first in your family to go to college, starting a small business, raising a family, falling in love—these are all moments when we have had stubborn optimism. We have harnessed grit and determination and set aside despair and naysayers to reach our goals before. So what if we applied that same outlook to the big problems that face the entire world?

What if we saw the problems like climate change, poverty, access to clean water with stubborn optimism instead of future fatalism?

As is always the case, the best place to turn for wisdom are the thought leaders around us. And when it comes to stubborn optimism, there is no better expert than Costa Rican diplomat and central architect of The Paris Agreement, Christiana Figueres. She learned this philosophy from her father at a young age, and her message is one that if more people were to embrace would—for sure—change the world.

Here’s her incredible TED Talk!

Via: TED 1

‌If you’d like to see more from TED, check out their YouTube channel. There you’ll find an endless library of inspiring talks that will have you seeing the future with fresh, open eyes.

To connect with Christiana, head on over to her website.

 “Any reality we are given is not set in stone, it can be changed.”

—Christiana Figueres

It’s not silly, crazy, or “seeing the world through rose-colored glasses” to believe that change is possible. If we want a future for ourselves and our grandchildren, we have to trust that it can actually happen, first.

We are all active participants in our collective future—and that isn’t a daunting statement. Imagine if instead of just a few people working tirelessly day in and out, asking for change in a positive direction, all of us contributed a little to creating this reality? What if we all refused to believe any other future was even possible?

Not all of us can go live off the grid or keep our garbage to the size of a mason jar (though both are great lifestyles for those who choose them) but we can all be more stubborn about bringing forward a better world.

All it takes is that denial, then the rest can fall into place. We can all seek out causes to support, with the resources we have. Together, we can be changemakers.

Just like with our personal goals, to reach our global objectives we will need our collective stubborn optimism. And there’s no better place to find reasons to be optimistic about our world than here at the Goodness Exchange. If you want a few reasons to see that a brighter future is actually possible, you just have to look at these articles from our library next to see who is leading us there.

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A feeling very familiar to most of us almost kept this life-changing treatment for spinal cord injuries from making it to testing! Here’s how Andrew Pelling and his fellow researchers overcame self-doubt to create this breakthrough innovation.

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Proof That You Can Endure! One Paraglider’s Story of Adversity

Soar to new heights with Jezza Williams! This outdoor enthusiast shows us how to navigate the bumpy winds of change with a recipe for personal success that can be replicated by anyone. It’s a story of innovative perseverance we all need to hear! 

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Easy Ways to Go Green: The Compost Pick-Up Services Coming to a Stoop Near You!

Wait! Before those food scraps in the garbage, here’s an easy way to make a positive impact as you go about your daily routine. Turn your food waste into a resource without having to make a compost pile in your own backyard by having it picked up and taken away, right from your front door!

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What will you apply your stubborn optimism to? Where might this new mindset take you?

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!


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  1. TED. “The Case for Stubborn Optimism on Climate | Christiana Figueres.” YouTube, 29 Oct. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVVW5eGiETI&feature=emb_title. Accessed 2 Feb. 2021.
Image: Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber


Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and is now the CEO at the Goodness Exchange. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often root-tripping—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV

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