A Smaller Prison Cell

I have just undertaken an intensive study on the concept of optimism. The results of this study will be released in an upcoming book of mine entitled The Art of Optimism. Optimism is the concept of looking for the best in every situation. I am keenly aware of the fact that bad things happen to good people, and we all deal with setbacks, but for every person who has been devastated by divorce, beleaguered by bankruptcy, or faced the despair of unemployment, I can show you someone else who has dealt with the same circumstance but found a ray of hope within.

Arguably the greatest writer and thought leader in the field of personal development, Napoleon Hill, wrote “Every adversity is endowed with a seed of equivalent or greater good.” This tells us that in every bad situation there is potential for greater good. In the midst of despair, it is often hard to recognize this. I believe we can achieve breakthroughs when we find others who have dealt with situations worse than our own and have triumphed.

I remember that fateful day when I woke up and instantly realized I had lost the remainder of my sight, and I knew I would live the rest of my life as a blind person. I was 29 years old and had never even met anyone who had dealt with a visual impairment or blindness. The only plan I could come up with involved moving into a small 9- by 12-foot room in the back of my house where I gathered my radio, my telephone, and my tape recorder. This little 9- by 12-foot self-imposed prison became my whole world.

As the author of over 40 books and nearly 1,000 of these weekly columns, I’m embarrassed to admit to you that when I could read with my eyes as you are reading these words, I don’t believe I ever read a whole book; but after losing my sight and discovering audiobooks, I became a voracious reader. So while my body was stuck in that 9- by 12-foot room, my mind expanded into the entire universe.

I read many books in a vain attempt to find someone whose circumstances I could relate to; but then, an audiobook about Nelson Mandela came into my self-imposed prison. I discovered that there was a man I had never heard of who lived in a faraway place and was confined for many years in an 8- by 7-foot cell. I did the math and discovered his prison was approximately half the size of my own. This gave me a spark of hope to imagine Mandela in his prison while I was in my own.

Then I read on to discover that not only did he emerge from his cell and live in the free world again, but he became president of his country and led his people toward freedom. I realized if he could do that, there was hope for me. That hope lead to possibility which led to belief which led to action that created my new reality.

Regardless of your circumstance, there is someone who has dealt with the same situation or something even worse. If you give them a chance, they will lead you out of the desert and into your own promised land.

As you go through your day today, remember Napoleon Hill’s words and Nelson Mandela’s life.

Today’s the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor; or follow Jim on Twitter @StovallAuthor.

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