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The Power of Positivity (Rather than Optimism)


In reflecting on my attitude, I have come to realize how much I rely on the power of positivity rather than the assumption of optimism. On the 5 month anniversary of my last run and 3 weeks before the Boston Marathon, in which I was supposed to run, I am taking a look at my outlook on life.

Thank you all so much for the good juju regarding my back/hip/sacro-iliac joint from yesterday’s post.. I think I was dealing with some acute ligament inflammation/strain, but the past few days of resting seems (?) to have helped. Not 100%, but definitely better. 

The Boston Marathon Runners Passport packet, which I will not get to use this year.

Still, a bit of a slap in the face to get this letter and watch as everyone else opened theirs on Instagram. Mine is still unopened. But I’m at peace with the matter. It is obvious that I am not going to be running Boston this year. I might not be running it next year. But that is another discussion for another day.

The Power of Positivity

The Power of Positivity. In my mind, positivity is so much stronger and more empowering than optimism, which relies on the assumption of everything going right. Join the discussion at @suzlyfe

In reading the comments yesterday, I was again struck by how many of you see me as a “positive” person. I would definitely agree with that label. A long, long longlonglonglong time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote a post in which I ruminated on whether or not I was a closet optimist, and I thought that it might be timely and germane to bring the discussion back to the front.

So let’s break, break, break it down, as you know I am fond of saying:

Positivity vs Optimism

Positivity: The Quality or State of Being Positive (thank you, Merriam Webster, for that fine forensic analysis (NAME THAT MOVIE))

Positive:  (one definition of many) thinking that a good result will happen : hopeful or optimistic

Optimism: a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future : a feeling or belief that what you hope for will happen

(all definitions from Merriam Webster)

Ok, so those are the definitions of positivity and optimism per MW, but what about in real life?

Positivity vs Optimism (Suz Version)

Positivity: the quality or state of being hopeful, at peace, or happy with life; an outlook that focuses on the other aspects of life than the negative

The Power of Positivity.

In my mind, positivity is so much stronger and more empowering than optimism, which relies on the assumption of everything going right. Join the discussion at @suzlyfe: assuming and believing without doubt that the “best” outcome will occur.

In other words: one can be positive without being an optimist, and thus one can have positivity without optimism. And I think that perspective plays a huge part in this. I also think that positivity, like happiness, is a state of mind, while optimism is more a state of being. Sort of like your sexual orientation: with optimism, you are just kind of born that way.

I am a positive person, but I am not what I would consider to be an optimist. I do not believe that it will “all work out” in the end. However, I have positivity via my perspective that I am where I am, and all that I can control is my reaction to the situations in which I am placed. I guess you could say that I have positive pragmatism. And pragmatic positivity.


I have to believe that I will get better, that America isn’t going to go down in flames with this Presidential election, that I will have a family. Because otherwise I don’t think that I could go on. But notice what I said: I have to believe. In my mind, an optimist would believe without question that things will work out. 

Ultimately, I think that the point of this post is to say I do agree with you: by and large, I have a great degree of positivity in my outlook and persona. It is that positivity that empowers me because I am making the choice to be positive about the future. If I just believed that things would work out, perhaps I wouldn’t work so hard, I wouldn’t fight with every fiber of my being. I might not have anxiety attacks, or question everything that I know about myself in certain moments. 

But that questioning, that wondering if I really am making the right choice, is exactly what is the power of positivity: because every time I wonder if I can and I make the choice to try, I am getting so much farther with my positivity than I ever could with optimism.

That is the power of positivity: the decision is in your hands. You fight your fight.

Get Empowered by positivity: why @suzlyfe chooses it over optimism #motivation #sweatpink Click To Tweet

What is your take?

How do you see the let downs of life?

Linking up with Amanda

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