Hope and Optimism in Family Therapy, Reviewing Why It’s Important with Vancouver’s Shelley Behr

“What day is it?” a round yellow philosopher once wondered.
“It’s today,” answered his Panglossian friend, Piglet.
“My favorite day,” the fabled bear declared.

That storybook Socratic dialogue between Piglet and Winnie the Pooh, the sauntering sage of A. A. Milne’s children’s books, highlights with a charming clarity the importance of optimism in our lives.

A sunny perspective on whatever circumstances or obstacles we face is a powerful mental force, focusing positive energies on whatever may be holding us back or keeping us down.

Family therapist Shelley Behr has seen this irrepressible force at work in her Vancouver-area private practice. On a typical day, her in-office conversations are rarely as upbeat as a Pooh and Piglet dialogue. Many of her clients are coping with the break-up of a marriage, and often the larger family unit as well. Others are fighting addiction, grief or sorrow.

The most effective therapy, she has learned, is one that starts from a place of hopefulness, a foundation of promise and possibility. The professional literature is thick with studies proving a strong link between our mental state and physical health, mind over matter. Our negative thoughts can literally make us sick, and a joyful perspective is among the best prescriptions for healing. 

Over the years, Vancouver family therapist Shelley Behr has saved the best quotations about optimism she’s read in favorite books or heard from friends and colleagues, aphorisms that create hope and prompt reflection.

These quotations are fun to read any time, and especially worth saving for a rainy day. Here are a few of her favorites:

“Optimism is the only quality more associated with success and happiness than any other.”
― Brian Tracy

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. … No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”
― Helen Keller

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
― Anne Frank

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
— Colin Powell

“Optimism is the foundation of courage.”
― Nicholas Murray Butler

“Many an optimist has become rich by buying out a pessimist.”
― Robert G. Allen

“Optimists are right. So are pessimists. It’s up to you to choose which you will be.”
― Harvey Mackay

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.”
― Winston Churchill

“You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down.”
― Charlie Chaplin

“After 5,000 years of recorded human history, you wonder, What part of 2,000,000 sunrises doesn’t a pessimist understand?”
― Robert Brault

“An optimist is someone who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat and takes the tartar sauce with him.”
― Zig Ziglar