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One could argue that Martin Luther King was the most important political activist in modern American history.

He was certainly the most hated man in America during the 1960s, for railing against the inequities suffered by African-Americans at the hands of whites, advocating for a guaranteed basic income for all people (60 years before Andrew Yang) and stumping for a redistribution of wealth (beating Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren to the punch).

In other words, the guy was a stone-cold radical who shook up a country coming out of the “Happy Days” of the 1950s.

So you might think that Martin was a dour sort. After all, when he wasn’t exhorting millions to rise up and claim their share of the American Dream, he was busy protesting the Vietnam War and fighting consumer exploitation by industry.

But did you know, five minutes before James Earl Ray gunned him down, Dr. King was busy having a pillow fight? This according to Andrew Young, who was with him that day in Memphis.

As all SuperOptimists know, it’s important to let off steam by hitting one of your trusted personal advisors with a hammer blow of feathers when they least expect it.

King was also known for laughing at his posse for jumping in front of him in crowds, ostensibly to protect him but, in King’s eyes, more likely trying to get their pictures in the paper.

May we continue to humanize the people we venerate as saints, while not judging their mirthful side as being at odds with the seriousness of their purpose.

 

 

Editor’s note: This post was first written when Betty turned 98. But death need not be the end of her influence. Though she has gone into the Great Googly Moogly, her spirit will continue to inspire.

Who among us has a sunnier disposition than the indomitable Betty White? She turned 98 last week, which is no surprise, given that she’s still a force in the entertainment industry. *

So what’s the secret to an existence like Betty’s? Research shows that optimism contributes to 11 to 15 percent longer life span, and to greater odds of living to the age of 85 or beyond. But White has exceeded that by more than a decade. To what does she attribute that extra oomph?

“I know it sounds corny, but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside” she said in a recent interview.  That’s right, Betty knows it’s best to look at every situation, even the crappy ones, and at least get a laugh or two out of it. (Like her first marriage to a rural chicken farmer that lasted six months.) As Betty is proving, it’s not just optimism, it’s SuperOptimism that can propel you to the century mark in style.**

And while you’re at it, it never hurts to light a votive candle just in case.

*Guinness has awarded Betty the world record for longest TV career for an entertainer — 75 years (and counting).

**You’ll also find vodka, hot dogs and red licorice on Betty’s training table. 

***Final note: Betty said she had no fear of death. Her mom taught her that,’It’s the one secret that we don’t know. Whenever she would lose somebody very close and very dear, she would always say, ‘Well, now he knows the secret.’ Now Betty knows the secret too!

At any given moment, the entire fabric of reality could be perched on your fitful consciousness and the world is only manifest because of you. Since you can’t be certain which moment it is, you are best served by acting as if every moment is that moment of great importance.

Example:

You’re shopping at Costco and bang your cart into a terrorist saboteur disguised as a chubby suburban housewife. You give him a look as if it was his fault you were crowding the aisle. This frightens him into thinking Federal Agents are keeping tabs on his every move and he abandons his plan to blow the place sky-high. You have just saved the world from a terrorist attack by shopping at Costco. You may never know you thwarted a nefarious plot – but when you believe your existence is vital to the planet, even small actions become extra special acts of valor in the bigger scheme of things.

Also, remember what Tolstoy said: “The most important person is the one you are with in this moment.” Given that recent circumstances have many of us spending more time alone, you need to factor yourself into that equation.

Quit vaping. Start making big money in the stock market. Quit dating losers. Start learning how to code.
2022 is here, and with it the pressure to halt all our bad habits, right all our wrongs, improve our posture and lose 15 pounds.
But is attempting the impossible the best way to start the day, much less the decade? We think not. In our view, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ringing in the new year by eating an extra helping of gourmet chocolate while watching reruns of “30 Rock”.  (If that’s what you enjoy doing, of course.)
Here’s the resolution the SuperOptimist always adopts, whether it’s New Year’s Day, Arbor Day, All Saint’s Day, or just another Wednesday: “All is well, life is swell, and I’m good just the way I am.”
By starting the new year accepting every screw-up, flaw, and mistake as the price of being human, you have a 130% better chance of enjoying the first days of the new year.  So ignore all those life coaches with their exhortations to improve everything about yourself.  If they want to drink celery juice and get on the scale five times a day, that’s their problem, not yours!
Remember, the definition of resolution is “the firm decision to do or not do something.” Why not make a firm decision to make no decisions about your future, and enjoy the first month of the year without putting undo pressure on yourself?
By starting 2020 this way, you might find this turns out to be “your year” after all.*
*If you are compelled to figure out how to improve your life in 2022, we suggest looking back on what worked in 2021.  Here’s a short quiz to separate the pluses from the minuses. By doubling down on the good stuff, you’ll assure yourself of more personal victories in the coming year.
MY PERFORMANCE REVIEW 2021
 What was the best thing I experienced in 2021?
 What was a huge waste of my energy?
 What activity gave me the most pleasure?
 What was my bravest failure?
 What can I try that I haven’t?
 What error can I avoid now that I see it?
 What did I fear in 2021 that I survived?
 Did I handle the bad shit well?
 How many times did I feel joy?
 Who did I like hanging out with?
 Who would I prefer never seeing again?
superoptimist half full

While philosophers can spend an eternity wondering whether a glass of water is half empty or half full, the SuperOptimist sees it for what it is — a partially filled glass waiting to be sipped. 7 1/2 glasses more, and he will be well-hydrated for the day. 4 more after that, and he’s super-hydrated!

The philosophy behind the SuperOptimist glass view? If you don’t need to worry about it — then don’t! Let a committee of experts, professors, and doctoral candidates try to answer the unanswerable. Even the best minds can get stumped on the toughest problems, like these:

1. Why are there no words that rhyme with “orange”?

2. What color are things in the dark?

3. If Earth were struck by a giant meteor, who would survive and what would happen to real estate prices?

 

The experience of discovering something new may be the most dopamine-inducing activity on earth. What SuperOptimists have termed the “Eureka Cure” clears out the cobwebs, revs up the inner motor, and helps you remain a curious sort who relishes a discovery. (Especially one that 2 billion people haven’t already absorbed via memes on facebook).

The pleasure of the find may actually elicit a cry of joy, whether it be unearthing an old campaign button from the 1976 presidential election at a neighbor’s yard sale, or stumbling across a fact we weren’t aware of that brings clarity to strands of thought that had been rolling around in our heads for awhile. It can also lead to new experiences, experiments, or daydreams, all of which are welcome.

Of course, sometimes you don’t know what it is you’re seeking to discover, but you’d still like to elicit the Eureka reaction. In this case, you need a way to bypasses the biases — especially your own.  One favorite is the Wikipedia “Random Article” button. Just today we discovered this place we had no clue about:

“Moneva is a municipality located in the province of Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain. According to the most recent census, the municipality has a population of 123 inhabitants.”

Here is the official seal of Moneva:

7 miles away is the Hotel Rincon del Cierzo,* a 10-room establishment. Among the activities one can pursue during their stay is birdwatching. If you’re lucky you might see one of the “ghosts of the paromo,” the Ricoti Lark.

Be careful if you pass by the local church in Muniesa. They like to toss a lot of rice and confetti at their brides and grooms.

Moneva! Muniesa! Wifi gratuito! Now what will we do with such information? Maybe nothing. Maybe we’ll move there. Who knows? But one thing’s for certain: Staying open-minded is the surest way to gin up enthusiasm for each new day ahead.

*The Hotel Rincon offers the following amenities:

  • Salón-bodega de 60 m2, para 30 personas
  • Cocina completamente equipada
  • Televisión
  • Piscina Cubierta, no climatizada
  • Rústico y muy acogedor
  • Wifi gratuito
  • Calefacción
  • Aire acondicionado
  • no se admiten mascotas

It’s only human to want to amass a fortune, and the quicker the better. Anyone that says they’d prefer to scratch out a living and barely make ends meet is what Italians call “un bugiardo.”

Investing in stocks, bonds or crypto is one way to attempt the speedy accumulation of wealth, although as with casinos, it seems the house always wins. We are repeatedly humbled by forces beyond our control, and timing the market only works for government officials, corporate insiders and that neighbor who smugly claims they bought Bitcoin when it was at $100 even though they’re still driving a 2003 Impala.

Playing the lottery can also provide a windfall — though the odds of winning are smaller than a neutrino.*  Granted it does promote daydreaming as you imagine the possibility of a better life. But you have no control over those little numbered balls vacuumed from the basket; your two bucks are better spent at the racetrack, where at least you can tear up your ticket while seeing the beauty of horses in full gallop.

Which brings us to an activity that is affordable, offers you exercise and plenty of fresh air, and gives you the opportunity to add to your net worth.  And that’s the search for buried treasure. Finding old coins, jewelry and relics from past generations is a heck of lot healthier than sitting around staring at a stock ticker. Why, a 1936 Buffalo nickel is worth more than 100 times it’s value today, and is sure to keep going skyward.*

All you need is a sense of adventure and the visual acuity to spot the precious items in your path. Consider Milly Hardwick from Suffolk, England. She was out detecting in a field with her dad Colin, when the 13-year-old made the find of the century. Or make that 130 centuries. The axes and other objects she found date from around 1,300 BCE. Milly turned in the find to official archeologists and is awaiting a giant reward.

Of course, Milly couldn’t have done it without her own metal detector.

We recommend a lightweight model that’s easy on the back, with enough features to make your search a fortunate one. Having done the research, we prefer the Garrett AT Pro. It’s an all-terrain detector that has 40 different settings to help you uncover various types of ferrous metals. And like the more expensive CTX 3030, the AT Pro is fully submersible up to 10 feet.

Venturing outdoors with your metal detector is a reward in itself, leading to aerobic fitness, healthier heart, improved circulation and flexibility, and increased vitamin D levels. Even if you find nothing, you’ve found nature — and she’s the greatest teacher of all.

So take a couple bucks from the clutches of Wall Street and invest in a metal detector. You’ll be glad you did.

*Neutrinos are the smallest massive particles currently measured and catalogued. The average characteristic size is r2 = n × 10−33 cm2 (n × 1 nanobarn), where n = 3.2 for electron neutrino, n = 1.7 for muon neutrino and n = 1.0 for tau neutrino.

**Remember to consult with a numismatic expert before polishing your treasures to a gleaming shine.  The value of the old coins you uncover can be destroyed with too much scrubbing and scratching. 

 

 

 

 

Life can become a bit tedious on the best of days, but during a pandemic that stretches on (and on), the walls can really close in. Yet despite the close quarters, the same faces, and a dearth of outside stimulus, you can still add adventure into your life.

We like to create a list of words to start the process. By mixing and matching, you can conjure an interesting exploit for yourself; one that can go a long way towards jumpstarting the adrenals. We advise taking a pad and paper and jotting down the first words that come to mind. Don’t edit yourself; the fun comes in seeing how you might configure some or all into your next escapade.

  1. blindfold
  2. hang time
  3. wager
  4. accelerant
  5. shoestring
  6. Delray
  7. amateur
  8. midnight
  9. coyote

How can number 1 and number 9 work together? What happens when “wager” and “hang time” are paired? Just considering the possibilities is enough to take us away from the headlines and springboard us into the unknown.

*Other words to consider: odds, uncertainty, randomness, hazard, and surprise.

The doorman. The custodian. The bartender, barista, night clerk, postal worker, tree surgeon. ‘Tis the season when many people expect a tip for the services they’ve provided during the year. At SuperOptimist headquarters, we couldn’t be happier about this. After all, you can’t take it with you, so why not spread the wealth? Especially to those who least expect it!  

As an experiment, go into the office of your superior and give him $5. When he asks what it’s for, you can say: “That’s a tip for being such a good manager, enjoy!” It’s worth the $5 to see your boss try to figure out what just happened. Then try it out on the street. Pick a pedestrian at random and hand them $5. “That’s a tip for walking in the proper direction. Thank you!” Who knows? You might set off a chain reaction of perfect strangers tipping each other all over town!

A SuperOptimist measures true wealth by exactly how much they are ready to give away at a moment’s notice. This is calculated by a simple SuperOptimal math formula: (Give more) x (have less) = much better.*

Double bonus: you’ll end up with less clutter, and may even be treated better.

Every holiday known to man has started as a positive exercise and then been co-opted by corporate interests, sucking all the real meaning and joy out of it. To think that Jesus being born is a cue for Cyber Monday sales and drowning in credit card debt is a real head-scratcher.

That said, there’s no reason to follow the herd down to the mall every time some representative from the National Retail Federation yells “March!” Step aside, open the door for the mob, and walk due east to the nearest open space. There, think about a holiday honoring whatever interests you, and invite your friends, neighbors, the town alderman, and newspaper reporters over to celebrate.

Suggestions:

Fred’s Day

Bonus Friday

Velvet Underground Appreciation Day

Rhubarb Pie Eatathon

Heel and Toe Polka Day

No Underwearensday