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Proud to be...Panglossian?

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 17, 2020
Jay's Bi-Monthly Empowerment Newsletter
~ For Trainers, Coaches, and Educators ~
Proud to be...Panglossian
Am I Naïve?
Recently I was asked by a journalist if I was Panglossian. As a writer, I was embarrassed to admit I'd never heard of the word, so I replied, "It's complicated, let me get back to you."
"Fair enough," the reporter replied. I escaped professional discomfiture.
After the call, I Googled Panglossian and a few definitions indicated the word meant:foolishly optimistic.Am I foolishly optimistic?
Look, I understand the glass is half empty. I know we are addressing extremely difficult, surreal, and unprecedented (in our lifetime) events. I see the death. I see the pain. I worry about my family's and my friends' health. I very clearly see my own mortality. In fact, since I am home 24/7, I keep my safe open with my will easily accessible just in case.
I'm not naïve. But, am I Panglossian?
Think back to January
Overall, life was pretty good for most of us - as life goes, right? We had a good economy. Planes, trains and automobiles were operating at near-full capacity. Weddings, proms, graduations, vacations, and golf (for me in Boston) were just around the corner; as was the baseball season, basketball and hockey playoffs, and the NFL draft. Except for Brady leaving New England, everything was just rosy. And then, the Covid-19 hit the fan.
My wise yoga teacher
When the economy started to tank, when the deaths began to mount, and when life as we knew it came to an abrupt halt, I reflected back to what my first yoga teacher said to me. She said, "Everything you have experienced in life has brought you to this moment. The good, the bad and everything in-between. It was all necessary."
And if you stop and think about it, up until this past January, everything that happened in the past 2 and a half thousand years of recorded history, led us to where we all were in January. And this includes all the wars, plagues, and tragedies humankind experienced andovercameincluding:
  • Antonine Plague: 165-180
  • Great Plague of Marseille: 1720-1723
  • Russian Plague: 1770-1772
  • Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic: 1793
  • Spanish Flu: 1918-1920
  • Polio - 1916-1954
  • Asian Flu: 1957-1958
Based on historical fact
I have no illusion that there are challenging times ahead. But I know, based on historical fact and my own lifetime experiences, that in every adversity lies seeds of greater opportunities, that is, blessings in disguise, as I have written previously.
So I called the journalist back the following day and said,"If you define Panglossian as foolishly optimistic, the answer is no. But if you mean faithfully and expectantly optimistic... without a doubt, yes, I am Panglossian.
I acknowledge the problems we face - the half empty. But I invest 90% of my resources and attention on solutions and opportunities - the half full. And no, it's not always easy. But then again, anything in life that's worthwhile, is seldom easy to attain and maintain.
So now I am a proud card-carrying member of the Panglossian Club. It's not foolish to be optimistic. It's liberating, healthy, and the key to rapid success.
I invite you to join me - it's free (and freeing).
Contrast Analysis
Excerpts below from the book,Kristallnacht, by Martin Gilbert (Winston Churchill's Biographer)
… in Hanover (Germany), a schoolgirl, Lore Pels, was walking to school with her brother, Erwin, when she passed a bedding store and was surprised to see policemen present. Windows were totally smashed, broken, Lore recalled, feathers were all over. My first thought was that a burglary was in progress!!The next block was our school.We were NOT able to go into the building; instead we were greeted by police, or Nazis. They told all the children upon arrival to go back home.
Lore said, Erwin and I had no idea what could have happened. Slowly word spread that our beautiful synagogue was burning… I remember being totally shocked, speechless, since we children spent so much time in the synagogue.
Returning home, Lore saw paper shreds - the burnt fragments of prayer books from the synagogue – flying in front of our windows.Her father Joseph Pels, switched on the radio, and turned the dial until he could hear a foreign radio station, something strictly forbidden for Jews. That was how her family found out that there was no burglary at the store and that the synagogue was burned, destroyed. A few days later, Lore, her parents and her brother were forced to vacate their apartment and to leave all their belongings behind. They were moved, with many other families, to a former Jewish school, with little more space than a bed for each person.
As for all those who witnessed Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), that night and day were a grim prelude. A cousin in the United States offered affidavits to Lore's father, Joseph, for all four of the family to emigrate. Her father refused, stating over and over, as Lore recalled, that he had served the Germans during World War One.One of his brothers, Ivan Pels, had been killed in action in that war, fighting for Germany. He and his family would be fine.
During the first heavy allied bombing raid on Hanover, Joseph had a heart attack. Unable to be taken to hospital because Jews were not treated at hospitals, Lore’s father died. A few months later, his wife and two children were deported to (the concentration camp), Riga. His wife and (Lore) survived; his son Irwin died shortly before the end of the war in (the death camp) Dachau, to which many of the surviving Riga deportees were taken.
My cousin
Lore Pels, the schoolgirl who endured being uprooted from her home, who was relocated to Riga, a concentration camp, who saw death everyday wondering when she would be next, and who miraculously survived and eventually came to America after the war… was my 2nd cousin, my mother’s first cousin.
And here’s the thing. If Lore’s father, Joseph, had accepted the affidavits for all four of the family to emigrate, it would have been my mother who would have not emigrated with those affidavits.
The moral of the story
When I contrast my current situation with what my cousin Lore and her family had to endure, and what my mother (at age seven), her sister, and my grandparents had to endure escaping from Germany...I have "no problems."
Contrast Analysis does NOT make problems or challenges go away. But this technique does empower us to appreciate what we have, in contrast to others who have, or have had it worse than us. And from thisgratefulperspective, we can better navigate the problems we are faced with... to better manage and successfully overcome our challenges.

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