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In Praise Of...

Choosing Optimism

by Mason Spector

So much of life is about how we perceive things. Two people can share an identical experience, yet feel completely different about it. This phenomenon is something I’m truly fascinated by. What makes one person view something poorly? And what makes another have a positive experience? A simple answer would be: it’s all in your head. Much of what goes on in the world is beyond our control, and the more we focus on these things, the more anxiety we will feel, and the less change we will actually be able to make. On the flip side, the more we focus on what is within our control, the more we are able to choose how to view things. 

At Madhappy, so much of our brand is about optimism, but being optimistic isn’t something that just happens. It is, more often than not, a choice. A mental attitude that we chose to adopt in order to feel more positively about the world around us. When I first launched the company with Noah, Peiman and Raf, it was all about bringing something fresh and exciting to the fashion industry - positivity and optimism. Since then, it’s evolved into a community of local optimists driving forward a collective conversation about the ups and downs of mental health. Things we all battle in our own way. 

Studies show that when we remain optimistic about something we are working on, we have a better chance of being satisfied in our work than if we are negative about it. It is that same mindset that I try to approach each and every day with. There’s a quote by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi that I love, and seems to tap into the time we’re living through right now: “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”

As I sit here in quarantine writing this, I admit things have been hard. Some days I am able to stay positive, and other days I feel completely lost and hopeless. 

There is no doubt that all of our lives are going to be vastly different for a while.. What is happening around the world is largely out of our control. However, it seems that when it comes to stopping the spread and making life go back to normal in a shorter amount of time, the control is somewhat in our hands.

Whether it is social distancing, washing our hands, donating money or checking in with loved ones, it has been amazing to see the goodness in humanity these last couple months. We need to remain optimistic now more than ever and continue to practice gratitude. 

Sure you can’t go out to that restaurant you love, but you can learn to cook your favourite dish at home. You can’t go meet up with your friends right now, but you can FaceTime them and confide in them the same way you always have. 

I’ve always believed that happiness is relative. Madhappy isn’t about always being happy, but rather about the process. It is realising that we will all have bad days - and that is ok. More than ok. It becomes a process of self improvement, about finding the things we enjoy doing most in life that lead to our happiest moments.

We all have things that we want to do, changes that we want to make and somehow life always seems to get in the way. This is the time to start. There is no time like the present. 

I will leave you all with the serenity prayer from the twelve step program, which has never rang more true for me. It’s a good one to come back to when times are trying. 

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. 

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