Be optimistic —- but not just today

Editorial Board

Today is Groundhog Day. While the ancient Romans, early Christians and other groups had weather-forecasting holidays involving hibernating animals and shadows for centuries, it was the German immigrants in Pennsylvania who started the custom of using a groundhog as a weather predictor in the 1880s. The tradition continues today with the well-known Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, as well as Canada’s albino groundhog Wiarton Willie and New York City’s weatherman woodchuck Pothole Pete.

Although many today probably don’t think of groundhogs as much more than potential road kill, it is easy to imagine how it must have been in ancient times, when people placed a great deal of relevance on whether or not an animal saw its shadow.

Back then the hopes would have been relatively simple: Let the plants yield fruitful crops, let families be well-fed, let everyone survive another winter.

This year, let spring come early.

Today, our thoughts about the future tend to be more complex.

From obsessing about what type of job one will obtain upon graduation to figuring out what to wear to parties, constantly thinking about the “next thing” is as common as the five-fingered hand and as prevalent as air. One word sums up many people’s feelings about tomorrow, and all the tomorrows that will come after that: worried.

It’s in faces, with all-night study-induced lines etched in young skin. It’s in shoulders, hunched from the strain of a full class schedule and the incessant pressure to succeed. Most of all, it’s obvious that we are so lost in a desert of stress and unhappiness that a smiling person is seen as an anomaly, if not an outright weirdo.

People seem to have forgotten about hope and its sister emotion, optimism. They think that cheerfulness is outdated. After all, we live in a society where apathy and annoyance are chic, detachment is expected and bluntness is the norm. Positivity has become a pariah.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Contentment and happiness are generally not as hard to achieve as some might think. It’s not about wearing rose-colored glasses or whistling about bluebirds on shoulders. It’s about making a conscious choice to look on the bright side. It’s about demonstrating gratitude in all circumstances.

Gratitude is about realizing that while school may be tough right now, there is an end in sight. When completed, the education earned is priceless. Gratitude is about knowing that while unrequited love is painful, at least the pain throbbing in your chest proves that love can exist in your heart. Gratitude is about the joy of seeing the shimmering light of a silver moon sparkle on the snow, rather than bemoaning the fact that there are no buses running at 11 p.m., and your jeans are wet and icy around the ankles. Gratitude can change everything.

So, this Groundhog Day, let’s root for the buck-toothed rodent that represents the future and all the possibilities of tomorrow. Root for hope.

Let me have the fortitude to make it through the class, let me have the courage to be myself, let me have the strength to smile.

This year, let spring come early.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board, whose members are listed to the left.