One SuperOptimist practice we never get tired of? Adding the phrase “And isn’t that great!” to any thoughts we may be having.  A recent example can be illustrated by the following:

“Goddamn, I’ve just broken a tooth on a macadamia nut. Now I’ll have to see a dentist.”

Simply add our four magic words, and you can turn this bummer into a blessing: “Goddamn, I’ve just broken a molar on a macadamia nut. Now I’ll have to see a dentist. And isn’t that great!”

Here you’ve taken a rather pedestrian situation in which pain, expense, and inconvenience are the assumed outcomes, and reframed it into something that may have positive consequences.  After all, with the proper attitude, who knows what might happen at the dentist? You could meet a new lover in the waiting room! Your dentist might be experimenting with laughing gas and offer you some! You could decide to spring for an additional ultra-whitening session and walk out of there looking like Hollywood royalty!  Your dentist might accidentally find you have a serious lesion in your mouth that was going to kill you if you hadn’t seen him in time!

Here’s another one:

“Christ, where did summer go? It’s back to cold again.”

Again, add the phrase that pays.

“Christ, where did summer go? It’s back to cold again. And isn’t that great!”

Why is it great? It’s great because the cold helps you burn body fat, leading to a slimmer figure. It’s great because the cold keeps away invasive insects, like the Asian Tiger Mosquito. Most of all, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not stuck in these temperatures for long, and there’s a cup of hot cocoa waiting for you at the end of your journey.

Here’s another: “Donald Trump is still president. And isn’t that great!”

On the surface, this seems like a nonstarter if you’re not a MAGA-hat wearing racist. But give it a moment to sink in. Instead of wanting to hide under the covers at the thought, you can feel good that nuclear missiles remain in their silos and Ivanka hasn’t been named Secretary of Defense. (Not yet, anyway.)

And one more: “With my mediocre attempts at art, I’m never going to be the next Van Gogh. And isn’t that great!”

So your work isn’t on display in MOMA’s permanent collection.  Instead, you’re making a living selling commercial real estate, or working as an attorney, or driving an Uber. Why is that great? The pressure on you to be the next artistic success has been lifted, freeing you up to do more experimental work that may one day be celebrated after your death.*

*Also, your day job affords you a few niceties, like food and shelter, so you don’t have to ask a family member to support you like Vincent did. And while we can’t be sure, your psychotic episodes probably won’t lead you to sever your own appendage, unlike the struggling post-impressionist.


The lame duck mayor of New York? “Why him?” you may ask. He’s a politician who is disliked by his own city, his own state, his own party, and probably every single person who’s reading this right now.

And that’s exactly the reason we’re naming the sanctimonious, arrogant and annoying Bill de Blasio as our SuperOptimist of the Week!

For even though everyone who comes in contact with Bill de Blasio winds up thinking he’s a giant a-hole, he keeps forging ahead. Undaunted by hecklers.  Undeterred by the polls.  Unapologetic for spending taxpayer dollars commuting to a gym in Park Slope when he could join a New York Sports Club two blocks from his Manhattan office.

In a world where the average person is desperate for validation and heavy “likes” on facebook, how does Bill do it? How does he ignore the fact that he’s a punchline for pundits, late night comics and even his wife Chirlane?

Bill has a special superpower that few humans have. He has succeeded in overcoming his negativity bias to accept and embrace himself without exception. And so, despite the carping of his critics, Bill de Blasio continues to like, respect and celebrate the most important person in his life: Bill de Blasio!

We should all enjoy our own company as much as “the Blas”. After all, there’s no other person we’ll spend more time with during our stint on Planet Earth. So why not start today by giving yourself a deck of affirmation cards to remind yourself just how beautiful you are.

Now maybe Bill de B. goes home to Gracie Mansion at night and cries himself to sleep. But we doubt it. According to Chirlane, he’s up late trying to restore heat to a constituent’s apartment in the Bronx.

Here’s to having that same sense of self-worth that Bill de Blasio has.*

*Without having to actually be Bill de Blasio, of course. No one would wish that upon themselves.


O glorious day! For July 3rd is the anniversary of Franz Kafka’s birth.

And yet, we prefer to roll out the sheet cake for his friend Max Brod.  If not for dear Max, we’d have no idea who Franz Kafka even was.

As it turns out, Mr. Brod was the reticent author’s lifelong pal and literary executor. In failing health, and having received little acknowledgement for his storytelling efforts, Kafka entrusted Max to destroy all his unpublished work upon his death. But when Franz finally met his maker,  Brod ignored his deceased friend’s wishes. Instead of torching Kafka’s manuscripts, he had them published instead.

Without Brod making that fateful decision, Kafka would have remained an anonymous insurance man who wrote fiction on the side. And we would not have  “The Trial,”  “The Castle” or “Amerika” to read, ponder and cherish.  So on this blessed July 3rd, we give thanks for Max Brod — and the reminder that it’s occasionally beneficial to listen to voices other than our own.


Another day, another set of absolute miracles taking place. And in every direction!

Wait, you didn’t see them?

Perhaps you have become inured to such marvels. You are not alone. Since humanity started about 6 million years ago with primates known as the Ardipithecus, miracles have become so plentiful in life, we take them for granted.

Yet all it takes to reignite the senses to the incredible phenomena that surround us is to pause and consider that it wasn’t very long ago that humans walked on all fours and had body hair they could neither groom nor shampoo. And today? In haircare alone, you have your choice of hundreds of fabulous shampoo brands! (Here are the statistics on the favorites from 2018.)

See how everyday occurrences we take for granted can become jaw-dropping revelations, just by reframing your perspective? Here are a few more examples that we’ve recently found deserving of deeper appreciation.

DAILY COMMUTE: We take a “train” pulled by a “diesel engine” that runs on “steel tracks” from one “state” to another. That’s amazing!

PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT: We work in a “building” that’s 52 stories tall, has 21 “elevators” and 189 “water fountains”. That’s amazing!

LUNCHTIME IN THE CITY: We eat a “pulled pork sandwich” from a “food truck” one block away, and they give us an “extra side of coleslaw” because it’s almost closing time. That’s amazing!

CHANCE AT GREAT FORTUNE: Twice a week we buy a “ticket” that qualifies us to win hundreds of millions of “dollars” if our numbers are chosen. That’s amazing!

MOBILE PHONE: We all stare at a “computer” the size of a human hand that offers endless news, games, televisions shows, weather, and “shopping opportunities”. That’s amazing!

STREET BUSKER: Every morning there’s a man near the 42nd St. “shuttle” who wears a “paper crown” on his head and plays “House of the Rising Sun” on a red Telecaster “guitar”. That’s amazing!

We could keep going like this all day. And you can too!  Any time you feel the heavy burden of routine starting to drag you into the darkness, close your eyes, click your heels, and remember that you have eyes and heels to close and click.  Then open your eyes, point at the nearest object, and marvel at it out loud.

“Wow, that’s a ‘metal file cabinet’ that contains sheets of ‘paper’ with words and pictures on it.  That’s amazing!”*

*Note: You may need to explain to onlookers why you are behaving like this, as they probably aren’t as attuned to the miracles of everyday existence as you are.

Conformity is so normalized, we are barely aware of it when we bow to safe, established standards. It’s like a river that wants to stay on its regular course, since altering that course may cause all kinds of unanticipated upsets, flooding, and chaos.

But maybe a little chaos is exactly what you need to reboot your internal hard drive.  Zen masters would give a monk a slap if they saw him getting too cozy on the cushion. If you are alive, it can be good to wake up, ask yourself what rules you are conforming to — and why?

We invite you to join us in deviating from your norm and trying something out of your comfort zone. For example, if you wear casual clothing every day, try putting on something ostentatious: say, a hooded cape or a butterfly hat. Even better, try mimicking Katy Perry’s outfit from her evening of Met Gala-vanting. If you’re thinking of taking a vacation, close your eyes, spin a globe and pick a spot. Before you have time to reconsider, book the flight immediately. (Short on money? use a map of the surrounding counties in your area.)

Stuck at the office? How about turning your supervisor’s desk drawer into a fish tank? Or if the boss already has an expensive fish tank that he spends an inordinate amount of time tending to, put a plastic figurine of a skeleton in it and see how long it takes him to notice.*

Of course, if you decide to tell your friends about your actions, prepare for the social pushback you’ll receive. “You’re going to do what?!” “Don’t you need to get permission for that?” “If you were going to __________, don’t you think you would have done it before now?”

Take their admonishments in stride. They remain asleep and are startled by your awakening. Let their incredulousness be your motivation!

Remember, there is immense social pressure to conform and stay in one’s habitual role.Japan demonstrates some of this particular creativity problem in the popular Japanese saying “出る釘は打たれる” or, in English “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.”

Admittedly, if nobody showed up for defined tasks, social order would fall apart in a matter of days. But don’t worry; most people will continue with their narrowly defined jobs, activities, and labels, while you go in search of the new!

*Note: properly clean the skeleton before placing in tank, lest the bacteria kill off the sensitive longnose hawkfish and royal gramma. Should this happen, it could be grounds for dismissal. (Which might actually be a much better fate than continuing to abide by a fishy boss anyhow.)


First, the lawn. According to noted biologist Edward O. Wilson, “Lawns are a monoculture of alien species, a rapacious consumer of water, and require toxic chemicals to maintain which eventually make their way into aquifers and stream headwaters.”

Now, Kim. According to the tabloids, “Kim Kardashian has had fat transferred from less desirable areas and put into her buttocks and hips. She has most likely had an open septorhinoplasty to slim the bridge of her nose. She has undergone breast enlargement and uplift. And she has most likely had laser treatment on her hairline to make it neater.”

So how have we arrived at a point where we’re attempting to contour nature the way a pop culture celebrity surgically alters her body?

We owe the start of lawn maintenance to the British aristocracy of the 1860s. These sophisticates first introduced the idea of the “weed-free lawn” in an attempt to show affluence. Homeowners were encouraged to display their wealth by keeping pristine grass lawns instead of using the space to grow food. Before this trend took over, people actually pulled grass out of their lawns to make room for weeds, which were often incorporated into family salads and herbal teas.

Today, homeowners proudly display their “green thumb” by making sure their yard is micromanaged like a Martha Stewart dinner party. Most have no idea that this carpet of chemicals ranks just above bare concrete as a pox on our planet.

To which we say: let thy lawn go native!* Not only will this positively impact the environment by dispensing with gasoline, pesticides, and unnecessary irrigation, you’ll immediately begin to enjoy the simple pleasures of fresh air, blue skies, and plenty of extra hammock time! Plus you’ll gain an appreciation for the beauty of wildflowers, and learn to love such growths as Digitaria Sanguinalis.

If you still have a hankering for landscaping, then it’s best to choose species indigenous to your area, rather than planting exotic trees and shrubs with no concern for their geographic origin. The local variety produces more insects, which in turn attracts birds that provide a check on pests. It is personalized conservation at its best, or what landscapers refer to as “biophilic design” – integrating nature into our modern environments.

It may be too late for Kim Kardashian.  But it’s not too late for us!

*Even better, knock down your house and live in the wild. Your neighbors might object; it can take awhile for humans to adapt to new situations. Offer them some tomatoes and beans from your new organic garden, and perhaps they’ll think twice about calling the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission to have you removed.

We are raised to believe that there is “good weather” and “bad weather.” So we learn to say 80 degrees and balmy is good, and 33 degrees and rainy is bad.  Above 90 degrees is “miserably hot,” below 20 degrees is “freezing cold,” and what we are experiencing now with the polar vortex is just plain awful.

Yet what if we were to drop the designations of positive and negative, and just accept that the weather is simply weather; constantly changing, oft times challenging, and always interesting!

Sometimes when the weather seems ungodly, it is a fine exercise for to run out the door and experience the truth of it.  Bitter winds, jaw-dropping temperatures, the works. If the spirit moves you, scream and howl and let your body awaken to it.  Feel the truth in your body, not what the 5-day forecast is telling you. You will almost immediately discover that the weather may not be bad at all — but is actually quite stimulating.*

On the flip side, severe weather can remind us that the world is made up of forces bigger than we are, which makes our issues feel minor in comparison. Plus, there’s less social pressure to get together with others, which means you won’t have to make small talk about “how f-ing cold it is” or hear about your neighbor’s latest trip to Florida “where it was sunny and 85 degrees.”  Better to hunker down with a good read and a cup of soothing Djarling. How about Nikolai Gogol’s “The Overcoat?

*It’s also recommended to take your camera with you, for as the professionals say, “Bad weather makes good photographs.”


New day, old patterns?

If you find yourself making an effort to bust out, yet already backtracking on this promise to yourself, you are not alone.  But rather than being pulled by the forces of same old same old, perhaps it’s time to deprogram yourself once and for all.

“But wait!” you might say. “I’m not part of a cult. Isn’t the term ‘deprogram’ going too far?” We may think we operate on the strength of our own free will, but the truth is, we’re all members of many cults:  The cult of the smartphone, the cult of mindfulness fads, the cult of artesan cheese boards, the cult of “what will my friends think of me if I opt out of all these cults.”

Still questioning your cult status?  Ask yourself, “Is that really me in those retouched Instagram photos, or is it a reflection of belonging to yet another social media cult?”

Here at SuperOptimist Central, we find ourselves similarly brainwashed, most prominently by the cult of Wall Street.  Like Pavlov’s dogs at the sight of a white lab coat, we’ve come to salivate whenever a stock ticker appears in our field of vision, followed by a hit of dopamine when the market is going up.  Of course, we suffer the tug of disappointment when a the numbers are in the red, and a full blown anxiety attack when the losses become precipitous.

We’ve been duped into thinking that our investments are the engine that will provide us the opportunity to one day be “free.”  Yet how much time do we spend being free, as opposed to counting and recounting the amount we need to survive into dementia-land?  You already know the answer.

Still, there’s nothing to be gained by flagellating ourselves; everyone becomes ensnared by the trickery that society imposes. Even the last of the self-sustaining hunter-gatherers, the Bushmen, now face societal pressure to “get with modern life.” Which shows you how insidious the pull of today’s cults can be.

So what can we do about our entrapment? It’s time to deprogram!  While there are experts who can perform interventions to cure you of brainwashing,  here’s a short guide to doing it yourself whenever you’re reaching for the lever in your Skinner box:

  1. Step out of the matrix.  Whether at work, with friends, or in the arms of your family, remember you exist in the middle of a vast scheme that has secretly created all your cravings and desires.  By detaching for a moment, you can see just how nuts the whole kit and kaboodle really is.  This allows you to reassert your power of authority over that next slice of strawberry cheesecake, new car smell, youth-enhancing cream, and mindless responsibility.
  2. Replace materialism with creativity. The best way to get even with cult-like vise grip is to make some art that has nothing to do with success, beautification, or binge-watching.
  3. Seek knowledge from experience, not the internet. All too often when in doubt, we turn to the latest reports, studies, or youtube videos to find out how to handle our problems.  This is another form of cult-like behavior.  Take a walk outside instead.  Instinctively, you know how to handle what you’re facing better than a whole day googling “why do I have body dismorphia when looking at pictures of Olga Sherer.”
  4. Read a good book. Here are some suggestions, but don’t take them. Go to the library and see what your hand touches first.

“My Year of Rest and Relaxation” – Ottessa Moshfegh

“Killings” – Calvin Trillin

“Instant Zen” – Thomas Cleary

“Winnie-The-Pooh” – A.A. Milne

There’s lots more ways to deprogram yourself and reboot your internal mainframe.  But at least these can get you started when you find yourself being tickled by the vagaries of societal conditioning.  Here’s to a great year of disentanglement, and the new adventures it brings!

*It’s interesting that “cult” and “culture” sit close to one another in the dictionary.  When you wander into a Chelsea gallery and see a Jeff Koons play-doh sculpture for $20 million, you realize why.  Best not to confuse the two words or else you’ll join the cult of overpriced art owners!

Moving slow? Feeling snarky? Having trouble getting started? Now that it’s back to “la course de rat,” you may well be cursing what society has labeled the worst day of the week. 

But here’s the good news: Monday is not the ungodly descent into Hades we’ve been conditioned to think.

A recent survey revealed that day-of-the-week stereotypes (i.e., “Monday blues”, “Wednesday hump day”, “TGIF”, etc.) were only pronounced when subjects predicted their moods for each day of the upcoming week.  Which means if you reframe today as “tolerable” or even “pleasant,” there’s every chance you can bury the Monday stigma and the angst it can cause.

So what’s Monday got going for it? First off, you’ve probably stored up a few more winks thanks to “no alarm Saturday” and “slept through church Sunday.” Plus, two days away from the office is a restorative in itself. That’s good, solid energy you can draw upon during the course of the day.

Then there are the remarkable stories you can spill to your work mates regarding your blissed-out triumph of a weekend.  Like how you piloted your 40-foot sloop to victory in the local regatta and then rolled sevens at the World Dice Championship. (And don’t forget the models.  Of course there were models!) Remember, everyone exaggerates his or her own adventures. Feel free to do the same.

Finally, Monday gives you the perfect excuse (“for christ sake, it’s Monday”) to drag your heels a bit before you tackle that inbox full of projects, deadlines, and ass-ripping notes from your churlish supervisor.

If you really want to really bitch about a day, try Tuesday. That’s when the work has backed up, the boss is getting testy, and the heavy-duty shit hits the fan. Yep, Tuesday’s the day you’re most likely to work through your lunch break due to the realization that you screwed around on Monday, and now you’re behind the 8-ball.

In fact, almost one in five employees will leave the office late on a Tuesday, as they work after hours to salvage the week after putting in a poor effort the day before.

So rather than predetermine that Monday is going to suck it big time, why not look at the facts. And then enjoy showing people your pictures from that Saturday evening rave, where the cops arrested everyone but you!

Enjoy your Monday.  You’ve earned it.


“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” – A. Einstein

Sure, we all know the classic E=mc2. But did you know Albert worked with with fellow physicist Leo Szilard to develop a more energy efficient refrigerator (shown above)?

At the time, traditional ice boxes were being replaced with modern machines that ran on electricity. Unfortunately (for the people able to afford them),  they relied on poisonous gases like methyl chloride, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide as refrigerants.  When newspapers reported the death of an entire family in Berlin due to toxic fumes from a broken refrigerator seal, Einstein and Szilard set out to find a better solution to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

The need for irrational thinking helped them circumvent the standard wisdom of the day and use a heat source to provide coolant, with thermodynamics driving a combination of gases and liquids through three interconnected circuits.

Unfortunately, none of Einstein and Szilard’s alternative designs for refrigerators ever became a consumer product due to the expense of manufacturing them.*  It was the introduction of freon in 1930 that propelled refrigerators from death traps to non-toxic storage units for cold cuts, ice cream, and leftover Chinese food.

*The good news? Today there is renewed interest in their designs due to the impact of freon and other chlorofluorocarbons on the ozone layer. The need for alternative energy sources means humanity may yet benefit from the Einstein-Szilard Fridge.