Become a prisoner of hope...again...

The categories of optimism and pessimism don't exist.Optimism is a secular construct -- a calculation of probability. Better to be instead, a prisoner of hope. Hope wrestles with despair without generating optimism. Hope gives people the courage to "bear witness" and "see what the end is going to be." There is no calculation with hope. When we embrace it, we commit ourselves, without any guarantees, to a better tomorrow. -Cornell West

This is the paraphrased quote expressed by Cornell West as reported in the 40th anniversary edition of Rolling Stone Magazine. That was last December but given the extraordinary and wonderful things that have happened this year -- from the presidential election to the tumbeling of high gas prices, becoming a prisoner of hope remains a powerful idea worth repeating.

Embrace hope.

Most of the time we weigh the odds in a situation and then make a decision to be optimistic. Do I have enough gas? Will I make it home? Can I close this deal? Will I beat this deadline? Can I get this job, promotion, house etc...

We calculate all the variables we can think of in our mind. We check the gauges, run through the probable scenarios and settle on the one we want to happen based on the facts we think we know. And generally, this approach works.

We choose to be optimistic because we can calculate a positive outcome.

But what happens when the variables are too fluid? What happens when we can't wrap our minds around the possible positive outcomes? Am I safe? Will the world be a better place? What will happen tomorrow?

We abandon optimism and embrace pessimism.

Ultimately, weighing the odds as a path to optimism fails us. Optimism's doppelganger pessimism is always there, lurking in the back of our mind. Whatever positive outcome we can think of based on the odds, the inverse is there too, waiting to creep out of the shadows of doubt in any optimistic calculation.

We are prisoners of the formula we use to navigate everyday life.

If we must be prisoners, then let it be inside the bright walls of hope. There is no calculation with hope, no variables to be weighed, no possible negatives to weigh against.

We hope because we believe against all odds.

We hope because we have faith despite the circumstance.

We hope because we can.

Embracing hope is contrary in an age of instant information. The facts, the variables are all their to serve us in our calculations. From news to statistics, from text messaging and cell phones to portable GPS navigation systems -- we have endless sources of facts for our formulas. All of it waiting at the touch of a button.

In the end, information itself is not enough. There's too much, the scenarios are too many, the possibilities for a negative outcome too high.

When faced with the darkest times, we often become a prisoner of hope by default and we achieve what we thought was impossible.

Stop doing the math. Erase the formula.

Believe against all odds.

Have faith despite the circumstance.

Hope because you can.

Yes is the new no...

'I wasn't open to stuff before. Now I am and things are changing for me."
- Jim Carrey, Yes Man, opening 12/19/08

Think of all the times we said "no" instead of "yes" to good things that had come our way.

What would life be like if we had only said yes?

How many times could "yes dear, I'll make time for us to take that trip/go to dinner/catch a movie" have improved the marriage or relationship?

What kind of adventure did we miss out on because we couldn't bring ourselves to say, "yes, I am open to relocating for the promotion?"

How many times did we chip away at our own heart by not being able to simply say, "yes, in fact I do have some change to spare."

For many people "no" has become a way of life and they don't even realize it.

No, I don't have time.

No, I can't move.

No, I don't have any change.

No, no, no, no, no. We say it endlessly. Flipping that "no" into a "yes" is the premise behind Jim Carrey's new movie Yes man. In it, Carrey plays a guy who turns his life completely around for the better by saying "yes" to everything for six months.

Some people are probably already saying no, they would never be interested in seeing this kind of movie because it's too unrealistic.

They would be wrong.

The movie is based on the real life escapades of British journalist and comedian Danny Wallace.

"I, Danny Wallace, being of sound mind and body, do hereby write this manifesto for my life. I swear I will be more open to opportunity. I swear I will live my life taking every available chance. I swear I will say yes to every favour, request, suggestion and invitation," he writes on

The results are captured in his book which shares the same title as the movie. Wallace goes from being a grumpy, depressed working stiff to a guy who lives the adventure life has to offer. He wins $45k, rockets up the corporate ladder, travels the world, finds love, etc... All by learning how to say yes instead of no. And he doesn't tell anybody he is doing it either.

We could do the same in our own lives. Pick a month, a week, a day, heck even an hour where saying yes replaces the automatic no to opportunity in life.

Make yes the new no in your personal vocabulary. And get ready to experience life in ways that you may have only dreamed of before now.


p.s. get pumped up with saying yes here

Give the people what they want.

People across the U.S. are clamoring for it.

Mike O'Neill is asking for it in Alaska's Bristol Bay Times...

"For once, business and community leaders ought to step up to the podium with no paper or notes or power point presentations and speak from the heart."

Suzanne Garment hopes for it in New York's Forbes Magazine...

"Maybe we would finally escape the tyranny of Beltway talk and hear America speak from the heart."

David Norville asks for it in Alabama...

"What ever happened to being able to speak your heart?"

We want it. Speak from the heart.

We need it. Speak from the heart.

We desire it. Speak from the heart.

Imagine the possibilities if everyone just began to speak from the heart.

No more words of hurt, fear or pain.

No more scheming or manipulating.

No more lying for convenience's sake.

If we want honesty from our leaders, more compassion in this world and positive change; then we have to speak from our heart in every conversation we have with people.

That's every conversation.

Not just on special occasions. Not just when tensions are high. Not just when we need a breakthrough moment with a loved one, co-worker or acquaintance.

We have to speak from the heart every single time.

So let's do it.

Let's take time to give each other the love, care and concern we deserve. Let's find the words we need to break any walls of fear and mistrust in our own lives -- friend, family member, co-worker or stranger.

Let's give everyone one the things they really want from a conversation -- love, compassion, understanding.

We can change the world for the better.

And it starts with the next conversation. No matter how big or how small. No matter if it's with one or one hundred. Remember to give people what they want.

Speak from the heart.

Remember who you are...

Remember who you are. You are more than
just the circumstances that you deal with everyday.
- Kelly Carroll, Canyon News 9/28/08

Remember you are more than just the circumstances you deal with everyday.

How true. How true.

Leave it to the Californians to remind us how our individual humanity extends far beyond the confines of our job, title, status or daily circumstances. In this case, it's Kelly Carroll writing for L.A.'s Canyon News.

We are more than the circumstances we deal with everyday...

Take for example Terence Gerchberg and Sara Leshner. The New York couple chucked their daily circumstances of working real estate and Wall Street respectively to compete in this season's Amazing Race contest on CBS. Each had to look beyond their current circumstance to do something new and amazing with their lives.

Will they win the $1 million grand prize for zipping the fastest across five continents and 30,000 or so miles? We'll find out in a couple of months. In the meantime, it's enough to know that at some point, they realized they were indeed much more than their daily circumstances would allow and broke through to a new reality.

We can do the same because...

We are more than the circumstances we deal with everyday...

This week, the story of one amazing person hits the screens in Flash of Genius. The story chronicles the life of Robert Kearns and his legal battle with automotive giant Ford Motor Co. over rights to his invention -- the intermittent windshield wiper.

Kearns realized early on that he was more than his circumstance the minute he got popped in the eye with a champagne cork on his wedding night. In one flash of fizz, Kearns began to reach beyond his circumstance to create something new. And it led to an amazing life of his own that continues to impact millions of people around the world today.

We can do the same because...

We are more than the circumstances we deal with everyday...

Where ever you are sitting right now,

whatever you are doing at this hour,

however you may be feeling at this moment,

take heart.

As Kelly Carroll tells us, "there is always another dream calling you to what will happen next."

Find the dream that works for you because...

You are more than the circumstances you are dealing with today.

Remember that.