Optimism is a tricky thing. We live in a world of extremes and more often than not I have found myself balancing the mix of a belief for myself and a belief to inspire others. At first, I didn’t know how I felt about putting on a smile when I didn’t always mean it, or helping someone see the light when I was going through a dark time… but the truth is that regardless of the origin of WHY I choose to be optimistic, I have found the results to be identical. The practice of optimism, whether it be false or real, can actually turn you into an optimist. It’s incredible!
For as long as I can remember, my parents were always teaching me to dream. They would talk about manifesting, praying, and visualizing what I wanted. I remember my mom teaching me to visualize the different goals I would score in soccer games and how I would score them. At first I thought it was nuts but then it actually started working. As I got older, this became something that was subconscious in my life and I didn’t have to always remind myself to practice visualizing every little thing. It started to become something that I did automatically and felt in my body. Now, as a man, a husband, father and business owner, this core practice is not only necessary for my own well being, it’s crucial for all areas of my life.
The world can be a dark place. Everywhere we look we are surrounded by awful news, mass shootings, hate crimes, marriages that fall apart and a planet that is literally melting. It is so easy to look out in the world and lose hope. But what if positive thinking was followed by action? What if optimism could become the norm and when bad things happened we conditioned ourselves to immediately counteract it with love and then did something about it? We could use good to suppress the bad. One of my favorite quotes growing up was “When a thought of war comes we must oppose it by a stronger thought of peace, and a thought of hatred must be destroyed by an even more powerful thought of love.” -`Abdu’l-Bahá
When I co-founded my company, Wayfarer Entertainment, I did so to try to create some much needed content that celebrates the human experience. Content that could hopefully inspire people to believe in something and then when affected actually go and do something. Now, I don’t necessarily believe that entertainment can change the world, but I do believe it has the power to inspire others to make small changes in their own lives. So whether it’s telling the stories of terminally ill heroes who are living fuller lives than I ever could, or throwing a carnival for the homeless to create awareness and help them be seen by their own community, or just being a present father to my little girl and husband to my wife… I have to be optimistic and then follow it up with action, because like everyone else I have a dream. And that dream is to see a world united in love. We all need love, we all crave love… so now we just need the belief and the faith that we can create it for ourselves.
Justin Baldoni is an actor, director and entrepreneur focused on creating and effecting positive change. He can currently be seen playing Rafael on CW’s Award winning phenomenon Jane the Virgin.
In 2012, he created the most watched digital documentary series in history “My Last Days”, which has gone on to help raise over 1m for various families and charities. He has since directed documentaries, commercials and music videos through his compassion-fueled production company, Wayfarer Entertainment. He believes giving back to the community isn’t a choice but a responsibility and travels the country speaking to youth and companies on how to make work and personal life a form of service.