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Why whyoptimism.com?

Whyoptimism.com is a blog that pr0motes optimism as the inspiration for a healthier, happier and more successful life. There’s a lot of science that confirms the benefits of the optimistic lifestyle. That seems to be a well-kept secret for most people. Here you can read about that science. You can find the stories that show that—contrary to what the headlines and front pages tell you every day—the world is, in fact, a much better place than you think.

Optimism is not about rose-colored glasses. Optimism doesn’t mean denying reality. It’s not about seeing sunshine when it’s raining. According to the dictionary, the everyday meaning of optimism is “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.” But the root of the word comes from Latin (optimum) and the more precise definition of optimism is “the doctrine that this world is the best of all possible worlds.” Optimism is a fundamental attitude. It’s not an opinion about reality; it’s a starting point for dealing with reality. At every moment, you can decide you’re in the best situation to handle a given challenge. That is optimism. Optimism is searching for the yes in every situation and finding it.

There will always be problems. That won’t ever change. What you can change is the way you approach those problems: with gratitude for the chance to learn a new lesson, gratitude for the opportunity to find a path that may provide new fulfillment and thanks for everything that is working and for everything that makes your life good. That gratitude is the converse of the pessimist’s disappointment.

The Brazilians have a saying that might explain why they always place near the top in the list of most optimistic countries. Da um jeitinho: “There’s always a way.” It’s true. That’s why I took the initiative for whyoptimism.com.

About Jurriaan Kamp and the journey from problems to solutions

When I worked in the newsroom of the leading daily newspaper of The Netherlands in the 1980s and 90s, I learned something we all know: Media are only interested in problems. I had a great job. I was in charge of the economics desk, and I worked with a terrific team of journalists. And yet I missed something.

I discovered what I was missing at that time during my weekends. I lived in Amsterdam. It was the pre-Internet age, and I used to spend part of every weekend visiting the bookstores in the center of the city. In those bookstores I looked mostly for non-fiction books. Books about innovation, about new visions, about pioneers finding new ways. In short, I was looking for solutions.

That was my disconnect: During the week I spent all my time on problems, and in my free time I went to look for solutions.

As a young father at that time, I learned something else too. Human beings get motivated when things go well and depressed when they are constantly reminded of their failures. I saw our young children become stronger and more confident when I complimented them on their successes. I saw them lose confidence when they were reprimanded too often.

My bookstore visits, my experiences as a father and many inspiring nighttime conversations with the love of my life, Hélène de Puy, made us do the crazy thing in 1995: We launched a magazine about solutions and the lifestyle of optimism. For almost 18 years, it was called Ode as a tribute to the people and ideas that are making our world a better place. Then we gave the magazine a new name that better reflected our mission: The Intelligent Optimist (click here if you want to receive a free digital copy).

Creating Ode/The Intelligent Optimist was my way of choosing optimism. A prominent newsweekly in the Netherlands once called me “the most optimistic person in the country.” I’m not sure they meant it as a compliment, but it confirmed my commitment nonetheless.

Today we still publish the magazine in Dutch in the Netherlands as well as an international English edition from San Francisco.

Our four children, three daughters and a son, are busy building their own lives in universities and in their first jobs—one as an a mediator, another as a human-rights lawyer. We remain nicely busy and occupied with our “fifth child,” the magazine. Visit www.theoptimist.com to learn more.

We live in beautiful Marin County where we feel daily blessed that we have been able to exchange the Dutch clouds and rain for the almost-permanent sunshine of California. We hike and bike, and we keep dreaming about an even better vegetable garden.

I’d love to tell you more. Please email me at info[at]whyoptimism[dot]com with speaking opportunities or to find out how I can help you spread optimism. You can also connect with me on TwitterLinked-In, Google Plus or Facebook. I look forward to helping you inhabit the better world of your dreams—by seeing reality through new eyes and falling in love with it afresh.

Jurriaan Kamp