- They only thing we have to fear is fear itself. [Franklin Delano Roosevelt, first inaugural address]
- Roosevelt relished being president. His buoyant energy and unshakable optimism transmitted itself to everyone he met. [Jean Edward Smith, FDR (Random House, 2007), p. xiii.]
Optimism is a positive attitude about what may happen in the future. Because they all look to the future, none of the values expressed in this week is an action, per se. Yet it is my impression and firm belief that an optimistic attitude, buttressed by hope, cheerfulness and our innate resilience, directed by the identification of a goal and focused by a resolve to achieve that goal, poises us to succeed.
Biographies on Franklin Delano Roosevelt:
- Jean Edward Smith, FDR (Random House, 2007).
- Conrad Black, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom (Public Affairs, 2003).
- Alan Brinkley, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Oxford University Press, 2009).
- John W. Sloan, FDR and Reagan: Transformative Presidents with Clashing Visions (University Press of Kansas, 2008).
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Crisis of the Old Order: The Age of Roosevelt, Volume I, 1919-1933 (Houghton Mifflin, 1956).
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming of the New Deal: The Age of Roosevelt, Volume II, 1933-1935 (Houghton Mifflin, ).
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Politics of Upheaval: The Age of Roosevelt, Volume III, 1935-1936 (Houghton Mifflin, ).
Technical and Analytical Readings
On the discipline and practice of positive psychology:
- Shane J. Lopez and C.R. Snyder, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2009).
- Alex Linley, Susan Harrington and Nicola Garcea, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Work (Oxford University Press, 2009).
- Michael L. Wehmeyer, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology and Disability (Oxford University Press, 2013).
- Stewart I. Donaldson, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly and Jeanne Nakamura, eds., Applied Positive Psychology: Improving Everyday Life, Schools, Work, and Society (Routledge, 2011).
- Alex Linley and Stephen Joseph, eds., Positive Psychology in Practice (Wiley, 2004).
- Alan Carr, Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Human Strengths (Routledge, 2nd Edition, 2011).
- R. Snyder, et. al., Positive Psychology: The Scientific and Practical Explorations of Human Strengths (Sage Publications, 3rd Edition, 2014).
- Christopher Peterson, Pursuing the Good Life: 100 Reflections on Positive Psychology (Oxford University Press, 2012).
- Martin E.P. Seligman, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment (Free Press, 2002).
- Isaac Levitan, Sunny Autumn Day (1897)
Music: songs and other short pieces
Film and Stage
- Oklahoma!, the Broadway musicalmade into a film
- On the Town, Bernstein’s song and danceclassic
- Miracolo a Milano (Miracle in Milan): though the film is interpreted as a spoof, it portrays the unfailing optimismof a boy-into-man
On the shadow side, Peter Greenaway has created remarkably cynical views of the human condition:
- The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, one way of looking at inventiveness
- Drowning by Numbers: murderas a family heirloom
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Many of Franz Josef Haydn’s symphonies and other works reflect an unwavering optimism, especially during the early stages of his writing. Each of these is in a major key.
- Symphony No. 9 in C major (1762)
- Symphony No. 10 in D major (between 1757 and 1761)
- Symphony No. 11 in E-flat major (between1760 and 1762)
- Symphony No. 12 in E major (1763)
- Symphony No. 14 in A major (between 1761 and 1763)
- Symphony No. 15 in D major (between 1760 and 1763)
- Symphony No. 16 in B-flat major (between 1757 and 1761)
- Symphony No. 17 in F major (between 1757 and 1763)
- Symphony No. 18 in G major (between 1757 and 1764)
- Symphony No. 19 in D major (between 1757 and 1761)
- Symphony No. 20 in C major (by 1762)
- Symphony No. 21 in A major (1764)
- Symphony No. 23 in G major (1764)
- Symphony No. 24 in D major (1764)
- Symphony No. 25 in C major (between 1761 and, most likely, in 1763)
- Symphony No. 27 in G major (probably before 1760)
- Symphony No. 28 in A major (1765)
- Symphony No. 29 in E major (1765)
- Symphony No. 30 in C major, “ (1765)
- Symphony No. 31 in D major, “ (1765)
- Symphony No. 32 in C major (between 1757 and 1763, probably 1760/1761)
- Symphony No. 33 in C major (1760/1761, or 1763-65)
- Symphony No. 35 in B-flat major (1767)
- Symphony No. 36 in E-flat major (first half of 1760s)
- Symphony No. 37 in C major (by 1758)
- Concertos for Two Lire Organizzate
In his early piano concerti, Nos. 5, 6 and 8, Mozart likely drew from Haydn’s example, which he added to his natural, youthful enthusiasm.
- Piano Concerto No. 5 in D major, k. 175 (1773)
- Piano Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, k. 238 (1776)
- Piano Concerto No. 8 in C major, k. 246 (1776)
Adolphus Hailstork’s contemporary American music expresses the idyllic spirit of American optimism.
- “Shout for Joy”
- “Sonata da Chiesa” for String Orchestra (1992)
- “Seven Songs of the Rubaiyat” for Chorus
Other works of sunny optimism:
- Albinoni (1671-1750), Oboe concerti, Op. 7 and Op. 9
- Witt, Flute Concerto in G Major, Op. 8 (1807)
- Nicolai, Symphony in D Major, WoO 99 (1835)
- Laderman, Decade
From the dark side (pessimism):
- Paul May and Carolyn Hume, “Kill the Lights”
He had his dream, and all through life,
Worked up to it through toil and strife.
Afloat fore’er before his eyes,
It colored for him all his skies:
The storm–cloud dark
Above his bark,
The calm and listless vault of blue
Took on its hopeful hue,
It tinctured every passing beam—
He had his dream.
He labored hard and failed at last,
His sails too weak to bear the blast,
The raging tempests tore away
And sent his beating bark astray.
But what cared he
For wind or sea!
He said, “The tempest will be short,
My bark will come to port.”
He saw through every cloud a gleam—
He had his dream.
[Paul Lawrence Dunbar, “He Had His Dream”]
Novels and stories:
- Sarah Perry, Melmoth: A Novel (Custom House, 2018) “For all the swirling jackdaws and oppressive doom, this book has a ruddy optimism at its core.”