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Book Excerpt: Kimberly Reed’s “Optimists Always Win!”
It’s a super power, even when things aren’t going your way

In challenging times, Cherry Hill’s Kimberly Reed puts aside anger and instead chooses to be grateful. She knows that’s not the easiest way to cope when life throws curve balls (like during a pandemic). But it’s the way forward.

In 2012, Reed lost her mother and grandmother within 3 months of each other. Soon after, she received a cancer diagnosis. Pain and struggles, she says, are unavoidable parts of life.

In her recently released book, “Optimists Always Win!: Unlocking the Power to Reach Life’s C-Suite,” Reed outlines her blueprint to facing life with hope. She’s chosen this excerpt, which has been edited for size, for SJ Magazine readers.

When I think about the most challenging days of my life and how I persevered, one word comes to mind: gratitude. Gratitude fuels both our resiliency and our faith. As I write these words, the amazing actor Chadwick Boseman just lost his battle with cancer at the young age of 43. The media has been highlighting his amazing career, but I am more impressed with his ability to continue pursuing his life’s purpose even in the face of his greatest challenge. I imagine that he lived each day in gratitude, which gave him the resiliency to move forward with his life’s work.

Like Chadwick Boseman, I choose to be grateful for each day I get to live. I also choose to be grateful for the limited time I had with my mom in her final days. I have found that gratitude is the most powerful way to access our optimism. The ability to be thankful for all things is a surefire way to achieve individual greatness. Gratitude also enables us to connect to something larger than ourselves, whether to others, nature, or a higher power. What’s more, gratitude sets us up for additional blessings.

The Goodness in the Now

Some people miss great blessings in their lives because they are always looking for the next good thing without acknowledging the goodness in the now. Being grateful for our blessings in life is the key that opens the door to an optimistic life of success and prosperity, while a lack of appreciation often keeps us feeling down. The most critical component of showing gratitude is to make the decision to be thankful. When we appreciate what is in front of us right now, life gives us more to enjoy. Have you ever been around someone who constantly complains they are short on time? Their complaints rob them of the opportunity to enjoy the time they do have. Remember being a kid and begging for just “5 more minutes” and becoming instantly unhappy if it wasn’t granted? That unhappiness robbed us of the ability to appreciate the time we did have.

You Just Keep Living, Baby

My parents taught me many lessons (for which I am grateful!), and expressing gratitude was high on the list. I went through 40 years of my life without any earth- shattering adversity, feeling blessed and grateful for those blessings, while those around me lost loved ones and suffered other emotional traumas. I might have been inclined to ask, Does my life really deserve this level of blessing? Was my level of sin so low that God did not allow me a season of strife? What did I do that was so freaking amazing that I get to live this amazing life? I remained grateful for my blessings. On the flip side, following those first 40 years, I survived challenges so intense that I would not wish them on my worst enemy. Am I less grateful for my blessings? No. After experiencing a significantly overwhelming season, I learned what the older generations meant by the phrase, “You just keep living, baby.” If you live long enough, life will dump adversity on you that drops you to your knees. And Lord knows, I found that to be true! We just get back up and keep on living. While I could have focused on the negatives when my illustrious job in corporate America came to an end, I chose to greet the future with optimism and gratitude for the lessons learned. I pivoted and started Reed Consulting Group (now called Reed Development Group) in 2007. I had a nice severance from my previous employer, which enabled me to start my business. I made $4,231.13 in my first year. How did I live off $4,231.13?

The severance package certainly came in handy, and my gratitude for that cushion was immense! I saved the W2 from that year to remind me where God brought me from and to remind me how blessed I am. When we accumulate wealth over time or through an extensive process, it keeps us humble and grateful for the abundance.

“There is wisdom in recognizing the significance of the storm and being grateful for it.”

Expressing gratitude is a lot like avoiding complaining. When we stop complaining about all the things we don’t have, that we think we deserve and instead focus on what we do have, life pivots. Gratitude has a way of continually redirecting our focus. When we are thankful, our mind shifts from what we think we should have more of to the abundance that is already present. When that occurs, we can begin to eliminate excess. We accumulate possessions when we are unable to see that true beauty is not in more but is actually in less. Purging the unnecessary from your life, whether it’s getting rid of junk in your garage, ending toxic relationships, recycling what’s outlived its purpose, or making room in your heart for new love is empowering. Once you do this, you are genuinely ready to make each day count. You will be able to wake up and live your day with purpose.

Again, I’m reminded of Chadwick Boseman. Even after being diagnosed with colon cancer, he still made 7 successful movies. His blockbuster hit “Black Panther” reported earnings of $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office and won 90 awards. This is significant because it is proof that, no matter what you are facing in life, unimaginable success is possible when you link up with a winning team. Can you imagine enduring surgeries, treatments, and intense pain and still getting up and going out to inspire others and provide for your family? What if Boseman, instead, had focused on his loss of good health and chose to turn his back on his life’s purpose? We would not have been graced by his talent or his example of living life to its fullest. I hope his example encourages you to think about how to get the most out of your life each day.

April 2021
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