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optimism by helen keller

Optimism, the book written by Helen Keller was published in 1900 shortly after her autobiography, My Story.

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about optimism and helen keller

Helen Keller Wikipedia page


Helen Keller with Anne Sullivan

This is one of my favorite quotes from the book

"If I should try to say anew the creed of the optimist, I should say something like this: I believe in God, I believe in man. I believe in the power of the spirit. I believe it is a sacred duty to encourage ourselves and others; to hold the tongue from any unhappy word against God's world, because no man has any right to complain of a universe which God made good, and which thousands of men have striven to keep good. I believe we should so act that we may draw nearer and more near the age when no man shall live at his ease while another suffers."

"Deep, solemn optimism, it seems to me, should spring from this firm belief in the presence of God in the individual; not a remote, unapproachable governor of the universe, but a God who is very near every one of us, who is present not only in earth, sea and sky, but also in every pure and noble impulse of our hearts, the source and centre of all minds, their only point of rest."



Helen was not born blind and deaf; it was not until she was 19 months old that she contracted an illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain", which might have been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind.

In 1886, her mother, inspired by an account in Charles Dickenss' American Notes of the successful education of another deaf and blind woman, Laura Bridgman, dispatched young Helen, accompanied by her father, to seek out Dr. J. Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist in Baltimore, for advice. He subsequently put them in touch with Alexander Graham Bell, a Canadian, who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell advised the couple to contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind, the school where Bridgman had been educated, which was then located in South Boston. Michael Anaganos, the school's director, asked former student Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired and only 20 years old, to become Keller's instructor. It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship, Sullivan evolving into governess and then eventual companion.

Helen Adams Keller was an American writer and social activist; an illness (possibly scarlet fever or meningitis) at the age of 19 months left her deaf and blind.

No matter how dull, or how mean, or how wise a man is, he feels that happiness is his indisputable right. It is curious to observe what different ideals of happiness people cherish, and in what singular places they look for this well-spring of their life.

Many look for it in the hoarding of riches, some in the pride of power, and others in the achievements of art and literature; a few seek it in the exploration of their own minds, or in search for knowledge. Most people measure their happiness in terms of physical pleasure and material possession.

Could they win some visible goal which they have set on the horizon, how happy they could be! Lacking this gift or that circumstance, they would be miserable. If happiness is to be so measured, I who cannot hear or see have every reason to sit in a corner with folded hands and weep.

If I am happy in spite of my deprivations, if my happiness is so deep that it is a faith, so thoughtful that it becomes a philosophy of life, - if, in short, I am an optimist, my testimony to the creed of optimism is worth hearing. Helen Keller was left blind and deaf by a terrible disease at the age of 19 months, trapped in a shell of incomprehensibility.

With the help of Annie Sullivan, she was able to overcome these handicaps and educate herself. Shortly after her autobiography, My Story, appeared in 1900, this book on Optimism was also published.