“That sounds too happy clappy for me,” someone said to me the other day when we spoke about an upcoming event and I laughed. But this expression made me think. Did people become tired of the seemingly relentless pursuit of happiness? Or did we get too tangled in what we call “reality,” not making an effort anymore and drifting into a paralysing bitterness?

Last weekend I went to the JCI National Convention 2019 as a member of Junior Chamber Cork and went to the “JEDx talks” on Saturday afternoon. I listened to incredibly inspirational stories from people who hit or started at rock bottom and worked their way up again. There was Paul Coghlan, a Westport man who was told he has a 10% chance of surviving and used his 10% to exactly do so. Then Stephen Downey told his story about losing a family member and learning to enjoy the small but precious moments again – every single day. Patrycja Jurkowska made it from a disadvantaged family background to a successful business woman, stronger than ever before. Darren Cawley was diagnosed with kidney failure and is now the fastest sick man in Europe and inspires others as an international motivational speaker.

What I became very aware of that day was that you don’t have to be to be optimistic. But you have to be optimistic to survive the small and big bumps on your very own and journey. Finding a reason to get up every morning and being present in the moments that matter. Believing in better times although your heart is broken. Taking care of yourself and others while your whole world seems to fall apart. Trying new ways after Plan A, B and C didn’t work out. Optimism means being scared but keep going anyway.

Lean into the happy moments and don’t hold back. This is a reminder to set goals, be present and mind yourself – even if you’re down and heartbroken. It’s your choice and responsibility every day to make this life work for you.