"Optimism" is, according to the Mayo Clinic, "the belief that good things will happen to you and that negative events are temporary setbacks to be overcome." Another way of putting it is that looking on the bright side of things has proven to be beneficial to mind, body, and soul.

On the other hand, many men and women persist in viewing optimists as pie-in-the-sky dreamers living in another world. They would rather align themselves with Murphy's Law which states, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

One of the early pioneers of the New Thought spiritual movement and its emphasis on optimism and gratitude was Christian D. Larson (1874 -1962) who was born and raised in the American heartland. He enrolled in a Lutheran seminary but dropped out and in 1901, at the age of 27, founded Eternal Progress, moved to California, and began to make a name for himself in New Thought philosophy and the art of positive thinking.

Jeremy P. Tarcher has done us all a service by providing in this single paperback an anthology of separate books by Christian D. Larson: The Pathway of Roses, Your Forces and How to Use Them, Mastery of Self, The Ideal Made Real, and Just Be Glad.

Larson is best known for his 1910 meditation "The Optimist Creed," which was adopted as the manifesto of Optimist International in 1922. You can read it in the excerpt (see right sidebar).

There are many wisdom bits scattered throughout Larson's books on giving your best to the world, the faith that moves mountains, God's beautiful gift to you, the art of changing for the better, imagination and the master mind, count it all joy, when all things become possible, and just be glad.