Lead an optimal way of life

Alice Herz-Sommer cheerfully optimistic

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

What if you were to lead your life with an underlying feeling that all situations you encounter are optimal?

It turns out that every single thing you face in life, no matter how demanding it may be, is actually conducive to you leading a calm and purposeful life.

The pessimistic path of loss

When you lose someone close, it can feel like your own life energy has been sucked out of you.

Suddenly it feels as though the world is collapsing around you and you’re falling apart along with it.

Wherever you look, all you notice is pain, hardship, struggle, darkness.

All you can see is negativity, which somehow makes sense to you so you hold onto it with all your strength. Down this path, slowly but surely, you take on the life of a pessimist.

And then you go downhill. You lose interest in your work, you push away others who love you so dearly, and your health suffers.

Embracing optimism

But the life of an optimist – well that’s a whole different way of living.

The definition of optimism is:

“Optimism is a mental attitude or world view that interprets situations and events as being best (optimised), meaning that in some way for factors that may not be fully comprehended, the present moment is in an optimum state.”

Embracing optimism brings about:

  • Better relationships – focusing on fulfilling our duty towards those close to us.

  • Purposeful work – doing the daily work that matters the most, bringing about fulfilment and joy.

  • Great health – the vitality to do the work we need to do, for the people who we need to care for.

  • Peace of mind – being content in the moment and enjoying the serenity that this contentment brings.

Even when some of these may come up a little short (because life is not necessarily plain sailing and there will be hiccups along the way), you will find yourself able to calmly endure whatever life throws your way by seeing the opportunity in the circumstance.

Leading an optimal life

So what does it take to lead a life of optimism?

  1. Look at the bright side of life: By taking your boundless inner energy and shining it onto all that you perceive, you will be able to see the opportunity in a previously gloomy situation. Acting on that opportunity can transform your entire life. Looking at the brighter side means you’re leading an optimistic life.
  2. Live with equanimity: All situations that happen in your life, take place because they were meant to. Such is the nature of the world within which we live. All things that come will eventually inevitably go. Such is the way of this world. So to be able to understand that that’s how life is, to calmly accept the reality of our world, is a way to let go of the emotional ups and downs that often arise from witnessing change. Living with equanimity means you’re leading an optimistic life.

  3. Look for the beauty in life: The 109 year old Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer was asked in an interview about the secret to feeling good. Her response was: “Optimism… and looking for the good. Life is beautiful. You have to be thankful that we are living… Wherever you look is beauty.” Looking for beauty means you’re leading an optimistic life.

  4. Live with awareness: Life isn’t rosy (a phrase often used by pessimists!), but life is real. Go about life with your eyes wide open. Stay vigilant, prepare for your adventures and protect yourself from harm. As the interview came to a close, Alice uttered “I know about the bad things, but I look for the good things.” You don’t need to actively go out looking for trouble or negativity – just be aware that this is a life of struggle and you will face many challenges, but within it is also an opportunity for greatness. Seek out the greatness of what life has to offer. Living with awareness means you’re leading an optimistic life.

I urge you to watch this extract of Alice’s interview (1m22s video) so you can hear the congruency in her voice and see the radiance on her face. You’ll agree that she is a true model for leading an optimal life.

A special mention for my friend Menka whose reason for optimism is that every experience is an opportunity to build awareness. Thank you, Menka, for transforming my mundane cliché’d understanding of “optimism” into an empowering way of life.

Water – thirst-quenching, body-purifying, life-enhancing water

Written by Suraj Shah.

We were helpless. We were hurting. We so desperately wanted to quench mum’s thirst, but we were not allowed to.

In September 2006, when mum was on her deathbed, there was one thing that she craved. You could see the sadness and anguish in her eyes.

The one thing that she asked for, above all else.
The one thing her own children wouldn’t give her at her time of greatest need.
The one thing that the doctors refused her, no matter how much she pleaded.


Her mouth was dry, her throat was sore, she was thirsty, and asked for just one thing to quench that thirst.


She was too weak to talk or to move. The tumours had affected her whole body. Mum would try to mouth some words but we couldn’t really understand her. Now I realise what she was trying to say:

Water… water… water…

We would use an alphabet sheet, where we would point to each of the letters of the alphabet, one by one, and mum would blink her eyes at the relevant letter so that we could construct words and sentences together.

W… A… T… E… R.

But the doctors refused it. They said that due to the state of her medical condition, any water she drank would go straight to her lungs, and that would be disastrous.


So we were helpless. We were hurting. We so desperately wanted to quench mum’s thirst, but we were not allowed to. All we could do was to dip a swab in some water and then apply it gently on her lips and inside her mouth.

That wasn’t enough for her. That didn’t give her any real relief. She knew that we were all helpless. It’s just the way it was. We couldn’t do a thing about it.

We take water for granted

As I write this, sitting here on the sofa, with a tall glass of water placed on the windowsill, I realise just how much we take this simple life-enhancing liquid for granted.

All the coffees and teas and fizzy drinks and sugared ‘juices’ we consume… at the end of the day, the only thing that our bodies need, to stay hydrated, is water, and water-rich fruits and vegetables.

What holds us back from having enough water?

So why do we consume foods that are so dry and dead? Why do we consume drinks that dehydrate us rather than give us life. Why do we fill ourselves with toxins, rather than taking in the foods and drinks that purify our bodies?

It’s our sense of taste. Our need to consume and enjoy things that we think taste delicious. It’s our sense of touch. All the subtle textures we place in our mouth. It’s our sense of smell. The wonderful aromas we breathe in while preparing and devouring our foods.

So much happiness we derive from food and drink. More so, we receive so much happiness by indulging in good foods and delightful drinks.

The truth of our indulgence

But the truth is that these foods and drinks are temporary. They will not stay the same. They will not stay forever. They will change form. Foods and drinks will not keep bringing happiness forever. That happiness is temporary.

These external objects, that we think bring us happiness, are simply keeping us on the rollercoaster of ups and downs, likes and dislikes, greed and hate.

We are so caught up in indulging in tasty toxic foods. We don’t realise the truth behind it. That indulgence in things we consume every day are making us over-eat, over-drink, and over-indulge.

A better choice

In day-to-day life, lets choose:

  • Refreshing tap water over cold fizzy sugary drinks.
  • Hot water over coffees and teas.
  • Water-rich fruits and energy-giving nuts over crisps and fatty snacks.
  • Simple foods over complex meal plans.

Great links for getting more water in your diet

Any other links or suggestions you have for getting more goodness into our diet?

(Photo courtesy of artemisphoto)