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ESL Story: The language of optimism

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To Shakespeare’s mind a bachelor lives a life that’s as merry as the day is long and this expression sometimes changed slightly to as happy as the day’s long has come to describe a sunny cheerful disposition. And oh how I envy them! - these optimistic types who always look on the bright side. Take the man who’s just lost his job, had his car stolen and has a huge overdraft at the bank. Does he complain? No, not on your life. He gets a letter in the post saying he’s won two whole pounds in a crossword puzzle competition and he announces with a wide grin on his face: “Ah, well things are looking up.”

Politicians, of course, are past masters at the art of optimism especially when they are members of the party in power. They’re very good at seeing light at the end of the tunnel when the rest of us see only unrelieved gloom.

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In fact, one former Prime Minister coined a phrase to remind us all how lucky we were to be under his administration. Again with that characteristic smile of confidence he said: “You’ve never had it so good.”

For the nature lovers among you here is an expression that denotes complete satisfaction and bliss and don’t forget to utter it with the broadest of smiles: Everything in the garden is lovely. And if ever you should be brave and strong enough to reach the summit of Mount Everest and happen to be asked how you feel, how apposite this next expression would be: “Oh,” you’d say with a sweep of the hand, “I’m feeling on top of the world.” And that particular expression must be one of the few we actually use when talking about ourselves for mainly we reserve these descriptions for use about other people. Maybe it’s that Anglo-Saxon reserve at work again. Old George, we say, is full of beans this morning as if somehow doubting why he should be so cheerful.

And come to think of it, we are rather serious-minded in these climes, always trying to find a psychological reason or other for that sunny disposition. Perhaps it’s time we had a Raise a Smile Week. Mind you, it would take a bit of doing. You’d have to keep up Shakespeare’s happy as the day is long for seven days, to start with. Yes, I can see it all now. I’d be down there at the bus stop, keeping the crowd happy in the pouring rain and just to prove that, I’d read that other national poet, John Milton, I’d proclaim with the true mirthful gesture: “Hence loathed Melancholy!” Well, you never know, someone might laugh.

Now while you’re still in a good mood I’ll remind you of the expressions we use for being cheerful or looking on the bright side. Politicians will insist that under their government the standard of living is higher than ever before: We’ve never, they say, had it so good. And even when trade is bad, they will see light at the end of the tunnel - they will see the possibility of a better life on the way. For general situations when life is treating you well you say: Everything in the garden is lovely and when a situation starts to improve: Things are looking up. At the precise moment when your ambitions are realised, you announce: I’m feeling on top of the world. Finally, full of beans and as happy as the day is long describe those who strike us as being highly contented with life. Oh and don’t forget when you want to create a dramatic effect, proclaim in a loud clear voice: “Hence loathed Melancholy.”

Dear Friend,
If you have any questions or comments regarding this essay, please post your answers on the forum here: Optimism.

Many thanks.

If you have any English grammar or vocabulary questions,
please post them on this English Grammar Forum.


Next:ESL Story: The language of relaxation

Author: Alan Townend


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