• 77°

Motto offers great life lessons

Anyone who questions the value of civic organizations has never been a part of the Optimist Club, an organization whose creed still helps set my moral compass almost three years after my membership ended.
It was more than five years ago, while working in southwest Michigan, that I was asked to attend an Optimist meeting.
I had no idea what the group was, as there wasn’t a real active one growing up in eastern Kentucky. I did some homework and was intrigued.
Then its foundational principles sealed the deal.
The meeting, like many other civic groups, consisted of small talk, lunch and a program.
It ended with the recitation of a creed everyone should live by in their personal and professional lives.
It goes like this.
Promise Yourself …
— To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
— To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
— To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
— To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
— To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
— To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
— To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
— To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
— To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
— To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
As someone who has been called positive to the point of naivety — a characterization I would dispute because I consider myself a realist who just likes to overcome challenges — this creed still hits home for me to this day.
Quite simply, those tenets embody the way I try to live.
Do I achieve these lofty goals? No. I probably fall short every day. But I will always keep trying.
According to the organization, its purpose is to “to develop optimism as a philosophy of life utilizing the tenets of the Optimist Creed; to promote an active interest in good government and civic affairs; to inspire respect for the law; to promote patriotism and work for international accord and friendship among all people; to aid and encourage the development of youth, in the belief that the giving of one’s self in service to others will advance the well-being of humankind, community life and the world.”
Although community organizations across the world face challenges getting new members and keeping existing ones active, Kentucky still has about 25 Optimist clubs on the official roster.
Central Kentucky has a variety of great civic organizations — from Rotary to Lions to Kiwanis to garden clubs to arts groups to many others. I urge everyone to find the right fit for them.
The rewards are immeasurable when it comes to fellowship, making a difference in the community and having a positive impact on people’s lives.
That’s not optimism; just a simple truth.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. He can be reached at (859) 469-6452 or by email at mike.caldwell@jessaminejournal.com.