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Senior Moments: Seize the day, be a champion of optimism
Rich DeLong

I was right where I was supposed to be yesterday at 6 a.m., in the gym working out. I didn’t say I wanted to be there, but it was probably the best place I could be considering I had a long day ahead of me and no chance of getting any physical activity later that evening.

It was also very cold outside - 34 degrees - which didn’t push my “get-up-and-go button” even a smidgen. I loathe the cold weather. Too many years growing up in the mountains of Pennsylvania will do that to a person. Unless I am snow skiing on a sunny day in Utah with a 100 percent chance of eating some Deer Valley Turkey Chili at the end of my run, cold weather has no place in my life.

Is it possible that Punxsutawney Phil was wrong this year? Yes it is. As the legend goes, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on Feb. 2, six more weeks of winter weather lay ahead. No shadow indicates an early spring. Phil, a groundhog, has been forecasting the weather on Groundhog Day for more than 120 years and this year predicted an early spring. Apparently, he was wrong.

Turns out, Phil is not very good at his job. Punxsutawney Phil was first tasked with predicting the upcoming spring weather in 1887, and the process hasn’t changed much since. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (yes, there is such a thing), takes care of Phil year-round, and on each Feb. 2, members of the club’s Inner Circle rouse Phil at sunrise to see if he casts a shadow.

Contrary to popular belief, Phil doesn’t actually have to see his shadow. He just has to cast one to make his wintery prophecy. Oh, well then, that explains everything - not really.

History shows that Phil’s six-week prognostications have been correct only 39 percent of the time. Holy cow! Let’s sign Phil up to be a member of the local weather team as he is right on par with most other prognosticators. Then again, what do you expect? Phil is a groundhog.Let’s go back to the gym where this all started. So I am pumping iron with all the other crazy people that get up this early and there it was – a t-shirt worn by a tall, lanky guy – that had written on the front the following: “Champion of Optimism!”

At that moment I felt like dropping a dumbbell on my head. So it’s cold outside, big deal. So many times we let the trivial stuff in this world rule our thinking and our lives. It’s time to put a stop to negative thoughts and be a champion of optimism.

Research by Puri and Robinson at Duke University shows that optimistic people work harder and get paid higher wages. I like the sound of that already. Optimism is more than just a positive state of mind. It’s also a competitive advantage in many areas of your life.

This research demonstrates that your attitude helps create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because optimists believe in a positive future they actually “delude” themselves into working harder to make it possible. They believe and thus are willing to take actions to achieve.

So there you go. The statistics suggest that over your lifetime you will have your share of bad weather. The key to weathering these life storms, my friends, is optimism and hope. Put on some more clothes and go out there and seize the day!

Rich DeLong, formerly of Richmond Hill, is the executive director for The Villas & The Grand of Seagrass Village in Panama City Beach, Florida.

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