Be Optimistic

Fragment from Effective Advocacy of Animal Rights
by Bruce Friedrich

The last Carnegie principle I want to address here is that we should be optimistic, upbeat, and positive. In the face of so much suffering, it can be difficult to be optimistic. Believe me, I know. It is so hard knowing about the horrific suffering of animals without being constantly down about it. But again, we have to ask ourselves: What will be most effective in helping animals? Depression and anger, however understandable, clearly will not be as effective for animals as a good-natured attitude. Think of the people who are the most popular. They are the ones who are smiling, upbeat, laughing out loud, and having a good time. We have to strive to be like that.

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell analyzes the people who turn fads into trends. He has found that in every case, they are friendly, optimistic, and interested in others. They express a genuine interest in others, and that is returned by the people they’re talking with.

Gladwell also offers a slew of interesting anecdotes that show that how things are said is at least as crucial as what is said—people, whether they admit it or not, are deeply influenced by body language and tone of voice. And of course, a positive tone and upbeat demeanor are far better at influencing people than the reverse.

To put this into practice, just before doing TV interviews or going out leafleting, I smile into a mirror and laugh out loud. It sounds odd—but don’t dismiss it until you’ve tried it. It can really turn your mood around. It helps put you into a frame of mind in which you’re upbeat, even if the interviewer or the person on the street seems intent on bringing you down.