15 Profound Lessons On Optimism And Happiness From Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox - Life Lessons

Michael J. Fox, is an award winning actor, comedian and author best known for his role as Marty McFly in the hugely popular, ‘Back to the Future’ trilogy.

Apart from being an amazingly talented actor, Michael is also a great thinker and an advocate of optimism and positivity.

He has authored three books which include Lucky Man (2002), The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist (2009) and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned (2010) all of which reflect his positive attitude toward life.

This article is a collection of 15 quotes of Micheal and the important life lessons on optimism and positivity you can learn from it.

Lesson 1: Acceptance equates happiness.

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: When you are in resistance to a given situation, you are essentially living in the past and this cases a lot of . But when you accept a situation, you come to the present moment and start to look at the situation objectively. When you do that, you are bound to find the hidden gems that are present.

Lesson 2: Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation.

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: A lot of us think that acceptance is to become passive. But that’s not the case. Acceptance equals giving up resistance and coming to the present moment. Once you do that, you free up energy that can now be expended to find solutions to make a better future.

Lesson 3: You alone are responsible for your happiness.

“Remember, though you, alone, are responsible for your own happiness, it’s still okay to feel responsible for someone else’s.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: If you are dependent upon others to give you happiness then you will be disappointed because no one can give you happiness except your own self. Happiness comes from within.

Lesson 4: Don’t worry about what others think about you.

What other people think about me is not my business. – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: What others think about you is of no significance. The only thing that matters in the end is what you think about yourself. Cause your thoughts and beliefs have the power to make or break your life. So stay conscious of your self beliefs and constantly discard thoughts and beliefs that are negative and limiting.

Lesson 5: Always be optimistic

“Optimism is a cure for many things.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: Optimism is the ability to see the glass half full as opposed to half empty. It means that you focus your attention on the positives in a given situation. You focus on your strengths and on finding a solution, rather than on the problem. A simple shift in focus this way can sea change in how to respond to a situation.

Lesson 6: Have faith. Faith will push you forward.

“The only thing that separates any one of us from excellence is fear and the opposite of fear is faith.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: Fear deters you from taking action and keeps you stuck where you don’t want to be. Faith on the other hand gives you power. Therefore the best way to tackle fear is by having faith that everything is going to work out for the greater good.

Lesson 7: It’s not the challenge, but how you respond to it that matters.

“Our challenges don’t define us, our actions do.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: All of us face challenges in life, but what differentiates one from another is how one responds to that challenge. Are you going to let the challenge get the better of you? Or are you going to raise up to the challenge and come out a winner? Don’t let the challenge diminish you; use the challenge as a stepping stone to raise higher.

Lesson 8: Family is everything.

“Family it is not an important thing, it is everything.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: At the end of the day, what matters most are the people in our lives. Put them first every single day. Before work. Before the computer. Before your hobbies. Treat them like they are your everything. Because they are.

Lesson 9: Your weakness is your greatest strength.

“Frankly, my height or lack thereof never bothered me much. Although there is no doubt that it has contributed to a certain mental toughness. I’ve made the most of the head start one gains from being underestimated.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: There is nothing like a weakness, it is just in our perception and therefore by changing your perception, you can change the weakness into your greatest strength.

Lesson 10: Don’t strive for perfection, strive for excellence.

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: Perfection is a myth, cause it is deeply subjective in nature. What one person finds perfect, the other finds imperfect. Therefore, to strive for perfection is to strive for something unattainable. Instead, you should focus on giving your best and then leave the rest to God.

Lesson 11: Purpose isn’t assigned, you have to create one for yourself.

“The purpose that you wish to find in life, like a cure you seek, is not going to fall from the sky. …I believe purpose is something for which one is responsible; it’s not just divinely assigned.” – Michael J. Fox (The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist)

Meaning: People are not born with a purpose, they have to find one for themselves. To find your purpose, you need to find yourself first. You need to know and understand yourself and in doing so you find your purpose.

Lesson 12: Look for the hidden gems in seemingly depressive situations.

“When life takes away, something of greater value is always given in return.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: Like the say, every cloud has a silver lining. Every situation comes with its own share of positives and negatives. The important thing is the ability to see the hidden positives as opposed to the apparent negatives.

Every situation in life has two sides to it, just like the night and the stars. We tend to focus on the night and forget about the stars. Try to see if there is something this situation is trying to teach you.

Lesson 13: Express your creativity freely.

“A creative mess is better than idle tidiness.” – Michael J. Fox

Meaning: To express yourself creativity, you need to let go of fears and self doubts. You have to let go of the idea of being perfect and let yourself be free. Only then can you let the creative juices to flow freely. So do not be afraid to create a mess, let yourself be open and let your creativity flow out without worrying about what others will think.

Lesson 14: Always be curious.

“I think I benefited from being equal parts ambitious and curious. And of the two, curiosity has served me best.” – Michael J Fox

Meaning: Curiosity is a quest for knowledge; it is the need to understand something on a deeper level. Therefore, in order to be curious, you need to have an open mind that is open to learning new things. Curiosity helps you let go of judgments and prejudices, it helps you understand yourself and others, it helps you to be open and accepting. Therefore develop the habit of being curious. It is one of the best qualities you can have.

Lesson 15: Always focus on the solution instead of the problem.

“You suffer the blow, but you capitalize on the opportunity left in its wake.” – Michael J. Fox (The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist)

Meaning: In life, it’s all about perspective. When you suffer a blow, you can focus on the negatives and sulk about it or your can utilize your energy more effectively by focusing on the solutions that can help you use the problem to propel yourself forward. Just like a surfer uses the waves to propel herself forward, instead of focusing on how big, strong and destructive the waves are a surfers uses the waves to propel herself forward. Therefore a simple change of perspective is all that is required.


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Mukesh is the founder of Outofstress.com. He is a writer, author and meditation teacher. Having suffered from anxiety and depression for a good part of his adult life, he used meditation, attention training and self awareness to break free from these limiting mind patterns. You can learn more on his personal blog - ConsciousReset.com
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