By Larry Coker
Hey there, folks. It’s Larry Coker.
Today I want to talk about optimism. I’m a firm believer that the glass is always half full, and that belief has impacted my life in so many positive ways. Whenever I check my email the first thing I’m thinking about is getting a letter from a wonderful new pen pal, not how much junk mail I’m gonna find. Just the other day I met someone from England who won the UK National Lottery and wanted to share it with me because we both had the same last name, except I guess the Welsh spelling of Coker is “McDonaugh”. He was looking to give something back to his family and there aren’t a lot of Coker/McDonaughs in the world. I did the same thing with part of the $2 million dollars I got from my 2005 contract renegotiations, so I know how good he must be feeling.
If I had approached that situation “knowing” that the only thing you get in your email account is junk then I seriously doubt that in three months time I’d be getting 15,000 British pounds. That’s a lot of money because the pound is worth more than the dollar. Thanks to my optimism I connected with a new relative and found funding for my movie. My outlook on life has opened so many corridors, and I’d like to share the hows and whys with you. What’s the first step? Easy, friend.
Turn that frown upside down.
So how easy was that? You’re already on your way to success in life.
At this point it’s fair to ask, “Why am I turning this frown upside down? It doesn’t feel good inside yet.” I know. I know. When I quit my job and left my ‘Canes behind it was with a heavy heart, but I knew what I had to do. Still, those days were dark and for weeks and even months I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Wondering why I had to leave. Thinking about all the amazing friends I made. Wishing I could sit down and just talk with guys like Clinton Portis again, share a few stories, talk about our mutual love of model train sets and ham radio and reading the Bible quietly. Sometimes when August felt so hot you almost couldn’t move, me and Clinton would leave the stuffy old football offices behind and grab our fly rods and cricket lures and head down to the pond, and we’d just talk. About life. He’d cast his line and I’d cast mine and I’d say, “Hey, Clint. Do you think humans will ever live on the moon?” and he’d say something funny like, “Frankly, Larry, I find it much more likely that humanity will have terraformed both Mars and Venus before it ever gains a true foothold on Sol’s moon. Tangent: you may find it amusing to know that in order to make Mars habitable we must increase the amount of carbon dioxide in its nascent atmosphere – with the Christmas-like bonus of cooling the red planet through the greenhouse effect – but in order to sustain Venutian life man would need to dilute the planet’s already densely carbon dioxide based atmosphere and reduce its temperature of 770 kelvins by a significant factor,” and we’d stare off into the water wondering about life’s mysteries, not a care in the world.
I miss that. I really do. Sometimes just thinking about those peaceful, lazy days tears me up inside something fierce, like there’s a hole where my heart is and I keep trying to shovel love and understanding and good thoughts into there, and it ain’t having none of it so I keep trying anyway with all my might but the hole is getting bigger every day, and it hurts so much, my arms aren’t strong enough to keep the darkness from taking over everything and I’m only one man, and what can one man do?
He can turn a frown upside down, is what he can do.
So, step two: remember that every cloud has a silver lining. I don’t think I really need to explain this one.
Step three: if you see an empty glass, fill it up halfway. Then think about it being half full instead of the other way around.
This can be harder than it looks, but the solution is in the problem. If you’re optimistic, then nothing is as hard as it looks! See how that works? Good. Now you try. I recommend closing your eyes and visualizing anything else but the problem, and keep those eyes closed for a very long time.
Good. Your mind is totally at ease now, and you’re ready to optimize!
Let me just warn you: sometimes you’re not going to feel like optimizing every situation and believing in the best possible outcome. When Louisiana State beat us 40-3 in the Peach Bowl I had a hard time finding the bright spot and really seeing the good to come. We were all distraught. Every cloud was gray, every glass was half full (or empty!), every time Matt Flynn dropped back he was throwing another touchdown pass. It was awful, and we felt awful for a while afterwards.
But you know what? Every cloud does have a silver lining, every glass really is half full, and Flynn only had two touchdowns against us. So me and the coaches sat down, closed our eyes, thought about good and beautiful things, and we went out and really worked with the sun on our backs and optimism in everything we did. We had our doubters, but we believed in ourselves and, more importantly, we believed that smiling is the first step towards victory.
Nine months later we beat Florida A&M 51-10.
If you believe that good things will happen to you, then they will.