Words of the Prophet: The Spirit of Optimism


Gordon B. Hinckley
I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.

The Spirit of Optimism

There never was a greater time in the history of the world to live upon the earth than this. How grateful every one of us ought to feel for being alive in this wonderful time with all the marvelous blessings we have. … And on top of all that is the Restoration of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with all of the keys and authority, with all the gifts and blessings, with all the organization and doctrine of all previous dispensations all brought into one. And you and I are partakers of that marvelous restoration (from Church News, Aug. 14, 1999, 7).

I see so many good people everywhere—and there’s so much of good in them. And the world is good. Wonderful things are happening in this world. This is the greatest age in the history of the earth. …

We have every reason to be optimistic in this world. Tragedy is around, yes. Problems everywhere, yes. … You can’t, you don’t, build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen (from Ensign, June 1995, 4).

Truth will triumph

I suppose you have heard the story of the absent-minded professor who went shopping and lost his umbrella. Discovering his loss, he retraced his steps. At the first three stores on which he called, the clerks denied having found his umbrella. At the fourth store the clerk handed him the missing umbrella. He grumbled, “Thank goodness for an honest man. The other three told me they didn’t have it.”

I am inclined to think that notwithstanding the gains we see in the work of the Lord, notwithstanding the reformation we see in the lives of many people, we are prone to emphasize the problems and disregard the progress.

I [am] an optimist concerning the work of the Lord. I cannot believe that God has established His work in the earth to have it fail. I cannot believe that it is getting weaker. I know that it is getting stronger. …

I have a simple and solemn faith that right will triumph and that truth will prevail. I am not so naive as to believe there will not be setbacks, but I believe that “truth crushed to earth will rise again” (from Improvement Era, Dec. 1969, 97–98).

Be happy

I have a great and compelling sense of gratitude and optimism about the youth of the Church. In saying this, I do not wish to imply that all is well with all of them. There are many who have troubles, and many who live far beneath the high expectations we have concerning them.

But even considering these, I have great confidence in our young people as a whole. I regard you as the finest generation in the history of the Church. I compliment you, and I have in my heart a great feeling of love and respect and appreciation for you (from New Era, Sept. 1993, 4).

I have little doubt that many of us are troubled with fears concerning ourselves. We are in a period of stress across the world. There are occasionally hard days for each of us. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you. Do not let the prophets of gloom endanger your possibilities (from Ensign, Apr. 1986, 4–5).

The Lord has said: “Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made” (D&C 25:13).

I believe He is saying to each of us, be happy. The gospel is a thing of joy. It provides us with a reason for gladness. Of course there are times of sorrow. Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety. We all worry. But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice. I see so many people … who seem never to see the sunshine, but who constantly walk with storms under cloudy skies. Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine (from Ensign, Nov. 1984, 91–92).

The good news

Let us not partake of the negative spirit so rife in our times. There is so much of the sweet and the decent and the beautiful to build upon. We are partakers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel means “good news!” The message of the Lord is one of hope and salvation! The voice of the Lord is a voice of glad tidings! The work of the Lord is a work of glorious accomplishment!

In a dark and troubled hour the Lord said to those He loved: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

These great words of confidence are a beacon to each of us. In Him we may indeed have trust. For He and His promises will never fail (from Ensign, Apr. 1986, 6).

Be positive

I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we “accentuate the positive.” I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort. I am not asking that all criticism be silenced. Growth comes of correction. Strength comes of repentance. Wise is the man who can acknowledge mistakes pointed out by others and change his course.

What I am suggesting is that each of us turn from the negativism that so permeates our society and look for the remarkable good among those with whom we associate, that we speak of one another’s virtues more than we speak of one another’s faults, that optimism replace pessimism, that our faith exceed our fears. When I was a young man and was prone to speak critically, my father would say: “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve (from Ensign, Apr. 1986, 2–4).

Let us go forward in this glorious work. How exciting and wonderful it is. I do not know how anybody can feel gloomy for very long who is a member of this Church. Do you feel gloomy? Lift your eyes. Stand on your feet. Say a few words of appreciation and love to the Lord. Be positive. Think of what great things are occurring as the Lord brings to pass His eternal purposes. This is a day of prophecy fulfilled, … this great day in the history of this Church. This is the day which has been spoken of by those who have gone before us. Let us live worthy of our birthright. Keep the faith. Nurture your testimonies. Walk in righteousness, and the Lord will bless you and prosper you, and you will be a happy and wonderful people (from Ensign, Aug. 1996, 61).

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Greer