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The optimistic outlook is never far away here

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Is the cup half empty or half full?

The answer depends on whether you're an optimist or a pessimist.

There are those who are an optimist by nature, so they tend to look at things in a more positive light.

Then there are those who are pessimists and can't see the good in anything. Their negativity overflows and takes others around them down to their level.

Typically, our lives are graced by people of both persuasions. And we ourselves fluctuate between the two extremes.

That's pretty much true everywhere.

It's all in our outlook. When we feel overpowered and ineffectual, we can still control how we feel and deal with situations. We determine whether we remain positive, whether we make lemonade out of lemons.

After having the opportunity to visit with a number of different people with different backgrounds in our towns, it's clear that there are a number of differing viewpoints on all matters. And often, it's a matter of perspective.

Yet, what differs, what sets towns and communities, businesses and industries, civic and social clubs apart -- from the thriving and vital to the dead and dying -- can be found in just how many of those "full" people are around.

The interesting thing I've found here is that in our area, I've been fortunate enough to meet a lot of people who are by nature positive, can-do people.

Our towns are comprised of can-do people with a positive outlook. They may have things they'd like to see done differently, so they set about it doing them differently.

The same volunteer cooperation that goes into constructing city parks, youth playgrounds and community activities can be found, if one only looks.

Many businesses are also adapting and a number are succeeding -- even at a time when many would say, and rightly so in a number of sectors of the economy, that it's a daily challenge.

But after visiting with a number of city and county leaders and with business owners and managers, it's clear that the optimistic outlook is never far away.

That spirit is often found in those who came before us, clearing the way through hardships, natural obstacles and adversity.

A children's book, "Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport," takes a whimsical look at perceptions that are often created by stereotypes and misconceptions.

It describes the journey of a young boy and his family west, leaving the relative "safety" back east. The boy wrestles with a number of concerns -- making new friends, fitting in, leaving the comfortable behind. That's exemplified in the belief that "gila monsters meet you at the airport. I know it's so."

En route he meets another boy, who is coming east from the west. This boy too is dealing with the same issues, believing that "crocodiles live in the sewers. I know it's so."

Yet what our main character finds is that his new home is not much different from what he knew before. And the differences are something to be explored and enjoyed. In essence, he returns to youth's natural positive outlook.

Here in our region of the country, it's nice to find a home where "full" is the norm and positive is expected, rather than "half empty" and dwindling.

Floyd Jernigan is the publisher of The Fort Scott Tribune.