Learning to Look on the Sunny Side

My staff, coworkers, and fellow surgeons call me the "Energizer Bunny" because of the constant energy and good mood I maintain, even if I've just gotten off a fifteen-hour flight from China. Why do I put so much effort into staying positive, even when I don't necessarily feel like it? Because I've found that having an upbeat attitude is more motivating to my staff and team that any complaint about my lack of sleep ever could be. My attitude spreads to them, and everyone generally performs better and has a better outlook on the future. When we have optimism and when we have hope, we possess the two vital ramparts of the victorious spirit.

Optimism is vital precisely because, throughout the course of life, so many things will go wrong. Trivial or catastrophic, setbacks and upsets pepper our existence, but they have to. We wouldn't be human if we didn't run into problems. We wouldn't develop without the experience of them. Our lives aren't measured in a vacuum. We define ourselves—and are defined by others—by how we react to the things that happen to us. Every occurrence, good or bad, presents an opportunity for knowledge and growth. A negative experience doesn't warrant a negative reaction. We have to surpass our temptation to resent or withdraw from our afflictions if we are to learn from them.

Combining an optimistic attitude with exercise and sport is the fiber that connects all the elements. It is always fun, except going up the hill. It is always an adventure, as there are endless trails, races, and personal bests. There is nothing that provides more hope and optimism that the elation, joy, and euphoria that you achieve at the completion of a workout.

Do you consider yourself an optimistic person? Either way, has this been an advantage or disadvantage in your life?