“Keep your face always toward the sunshine—and shadows will fall behind you.” —Walt Whitman
(Please note that some people attribute this quote to Helen Keller. We are not sure who said it.) When things are bad, it seems many of us tend to stare into the abyss and perpetuate our sense of darkness and despair. Whether it is a career issue, family matter or health concern, the immediate impulse is to be pessimistic and let the events cast a long shadow.
Imagine the sense of loss and sadness at a health diagnosis of a loved one. Or a breakup with a partner. Or losing a job. Or the prospect of foreclosure and financial ruin.
Each of these events is serious, and the prospects look bleak, and the future looks grim. This is where we can make a choice. We can wallow in our misery which makes shining a new path and blazing a new trail impossible.
Or we can keep our face toward sunshine and let the shadows fall behind us. Walt Whitman’s quote reflects how our sense of optimism and pessimism can determine the outcomes.
An optimistic person tends to focus on the positive and despite the setbacks pursue a path toward light.
May losing the job is not all that bad as it was just a job, not a career. Now it may lead to better career prospects.
The health issue may help bring the family closer, and through the medical advances and resilience, it may be possible to emerge stronger on the other side.
A breakup with a person that is not genuinely compatible may lead to internal reflection and finally to a soul mate.
Once you realize the length and density of the shadows is not the true barometer of the size and scope of the problems we face, it lightens our burden and opens our minds to new possibilities.
So, instead of staring into the darkness and seeing ghosts where none exist, keep your chin up, face the sunshine and leave the shadows behind.
A positive frame of mind that seeks brightness and light will get you far.