By International Trustee Irin Shim

“Everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” — Candide 

Now, I’m not saying that we should strive to be blindly optimistic, but I do believe that there is validity in the timeless works of Voltaire.  

We live in the ultrafast-paced world of TikToks, “Rise and Shines” and “OK Boomers.” Now, as student leaders, we Key Clubbers strive to make the most of every hour of the annual 8,760 hours we have to our disposal. However, of these 8,760 hours, the average teenager sleeps, or rather should sleep, a minimum of 2,920 hours. That leaves us with a mere 5,840 conscious hours. Assuming that we do not sleep in class, of these 5,840 conscious hours, high schoolers spend a mandated 1,260 hours at school. This leaves us with an even slighter 4,580 hours in a year, because we’ve already spent half of our year either sleeping or being educated. 

Now, I am not suggesting that you forfeit sleep or education to maximize your time  on a side note, please do NOT forfeit your sleep or education; both are equally important  but I am suggesting something else. 

Our barebone everyday routine has already cut our time to make an impact in half. With that in mind, we as students and servant leaders have already distinguished a need to spread kindness, inclusiveness and compassion, but how can we accomplish all this while juggling all our household and academic responsibilities, a social life and everything in between?  

We accomplish this by spreading positivity.  

Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore life’s less pleasant situations. It does not mean that you stop to smell the roses and never start moving. Positive thinking simply means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You believe the best is going to happen, not the worst. 

Positive thinking is often stimulated by self-talk. Self-talk is the constant stream of unspoken thoughts that circuit through your mind. It can be positive or negative and come from logic, emotion or reason. Self-talk may arise from overthinking and misconceptions created due to a lack of information. 

If these spurring thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, your outlook on life is doomed to be pessimistic. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you’re likely an optimist.  

As a self-proclaimed pessimistic optimist, I can promise you both can be learned.  

Positivity is an ideal easy in theory, but rather difficult when the stresses of everyday life hit. I have an intrinsically pessimistic persona, so I understand how positive is easier said than done. Yet I can vouch that spreading positivity makes for more self-confidence, more love being given and reciprocated and a healthier mind, body and spirit. It also has a domino effect: one kind action can spur a lifetime of kind reactions. And science agrees.  

Although researchers continue to explore the effects of optimism on health, what is known of positive thinking is, well, positive. It: 

  • Increases life span. 

  • Lowers rates of depression. 

  • Lowers distress levels. 

  • Increases resistance to the common cold. 

  • Betters psychological and physical well-being. 

  • Betters coping skills during hardships and times of both immense and slight stress. 

It is unclear as to why positive people experience such health benefits. One theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body. 

But whatever the case may be, spreading positivity is a proven way to not only better someone else’s day, but better yourself … and what could be better than a simultaneous positive streak?