Monday, September 7, 2009

Partial Solutions, Appreciation and Color

Did you ever want something so much you could taste it? Have a dream so vivid you could see it. Have a clear picture of a life that could be yours despite obvious obstacles?

Ever second-guess yourself? Convince yourself that you could have that life if only (insert excuse here)?

I’m pretty good at second-guessing and over-thinking. I’ll pause for a moment to give those of you who know me in real life time to laugh. Actually if you know me well, you know I eventually get everything I want, or at least an acceptable version of it. “Optimists look for partial solutions” is one of my favorite lines from Alan Loy McGinnis’s book “The Power of Optimism.” I live that line.

There is a difference between “partial solution” and “compromise.” Compromise often refers to giving up something important or accepting a lower standard in the name of achieving some goal. A partial solution to a problem, however, can mean breaking a big problem down into smaller, manageable parts and dealing with each of those, one at a time. Eventually the big problem gets solved.

Breaking a dream down into smaller parts and making each of those come true, one at a time, could make the whole dream come true.

“Appreciation” is another characteristic McGinnis attributes to optimists. He illustrates many of his points with religious references, too many for my taste, but the essence of his chapter on appreciating things is summed up well by this:
Said a sympathetic friend to a crippled woman, “Affliction does so color life.”
“Yes,” she replied, “but I propose to choose the color.”

While dreaming about something you don’t have, it is often difficult to appreciate what you do have. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow your dream, or that you should ignore the obstacles, but it does mean you can relax and not try so hard. Appreciate what you do have while you work at finding what you really want.

Paint the rainbow one color at a time.

No comments: