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The Fuel of All Things Good

A recent issue of Business Week has stuck in my mind. The cover story is “The Case for Optimism,” and it is full of inspiring stories and studies showing that optimism works. Students of Zen Buddhism and those knowledgeable with the way our mind functions might be saying “duh” to this. And serious Zen students may find a chat about inspired optimism a bit lame and Pollyanna-ish. Yet our very society and life success is dependent on inspiration and optimism — the fuel of all things good.I have been thinking about what we could learn about inspiration and optimism through a practical Zen prism. From my observations of successful and happy people, the roots of their power source go deep into a soil rich in optimism and inspiration. But why does one person’s root system choose a soil rich with these vital nutrients, while another’s withers in pessimism, inertia, and negativism? Business Week warns of failed companies and the resulting lost jobs for those silly enough to be uninspired. At the same time, my Zen muse, Dogan, is sitting on my shoulder saying, “Water the thoughts you wish to flower, weed the tho …

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland resides in Michigan with his four youngest kids, ages 5 to 10. He and his wife, Amy, try to be an example of Parenting for a Peaceful world, in which democracy begins at home.

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