Ted Lasso is Not a Pessimist and Neither is God
So why am I?
Seeing the potential danger and error in life is a talent I posses which allows pessimism to come naturally to me. I’m not kidding when I say I have a real eye for the negative. Tell me anything you are doing, and I can tell you what’s wrong with it in five different ways. But, the other day it occurred to me that God is not a pessimist, so why am I? This profound realization left me asking, how do I retrain my brain to see the hope instead of the doom-and-gloom? How do I major on the positive instead of relying on my PhD in the negative?
In pursuit of a less pessimistic outlook on life, I decided to look for people who seem to live with the joy of expectant hope, and learn their language. They have a language that is so different from mine, it’s like traveling to a foreign land. But being a bit of a linguist, I’m up for the challenge. So far, I’ve found three people who can’t seem to stop being hopeful. And I’d like to refer to one of them as a case study in hope. His name is Ted Lasso, and he’s a breath of fresh air. He’s also a fictional character, but sometimes fiction is just what we need to flip the script and help us see what a different life would be like.
Ted Lasso, in case don’t have Apple TV, is the lovably cheerful coach from the hit show who takes his hapless English football team from laughingstock to inspiration. How does he do it? By meeting each challenge and naysayer with an absurd yet contagious optimism. He cracks jokes in the face of criticism. He rallies the team when morale is low. He even loves on and encourages the owner who seems intent on ruining him! All with a folksy southern charm and undeniable wit.
In watching the series, I’ve seen how Ted consistently chooses to lead with grace and forgiveness. And in his lighthearted banter, I’ve found nuggets of wisdom about letting go of bitterness, believing the best in others, and daring to hope. And that’s inspiration for this negatively inclined soul.
With Ted’s words in mind, I decided to learn from his joy, and the next time that blasted inner critic or outer Debbie Downer took over my thoughts, I decided to picture Ted in his AFC Richmond sweater just smiling and seeing the hope. So, I began asking myself how might Ted see through the negative to the positive? How would he choose empathy over judgment or hope over despair?
Like learning a new language, I’ve had to stop and think because what comes first is my own language of negativity. But, after a quick time-out I think, “Okay, what’s the word for hope in this situation?” “How do I find the joy, the hand of God, the potential?” And slowly, I am finding my positive voice. It’s a bit like digging myself out from a grave of my own making, but I’m starting to see the light.
Letting go of the talent of negativity and complaint isn’t easy, especially the older we get. It’s just easier to whine and complain, but take a lesson from Ted Lasso, and join me in this language learning skill.
So, here are six Ted Lasso quotes that might give you something positive to think about:
1. "Be curious, not judgmental." My go-to response is judgement, but Ted gave me the idea to start with curiosity. When someone lashes out in anger, I want to be curious about what hurt they might be carrying rather than judging them for something I’ve probably done sometime in my life as well.
2. “All people are doing is just trying to figure out a way to get through the day.” I forget that you all have struggles too. But remembering that we are all in the same swamp just trying to move through life, helps me give grace to people who bug me. There is no one who is perfect. We are all just trying to work it out.
3. "There's two buttons I never like to hit: panic and snooze." I love this! They both slow you down, so don’t hit em, just keep moving.
4. "I really do feel that if you care about the other person, then hard things become a little bit less hard." The only thing we have to do in this world is love. That sums it all up. If I can focus on just that, then the hard things do become a little less hard.
5. "You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It's a goldfish. You know why? Got a 10-second memory." I used to be afraid of losing my memory, but now Ted’s got me trying to lose it, especially when it comes to failure, rejection, resentment, and doubt.
6. "The alternative to hope is despair. I choose hope." I keep forgetting that we have the choice. No one can make it for me. So, I am going to choose the better of the two.
Sometimes I forget that the tongue has the power of life and death, and I’m in charge of that power. So, I wanna live like Ted, speaking life into the world around and within me. Will you join me in sharing encouragement, giving the gift of laughter, and treating each day as a chance to find hope?
With God's help, I believe we can be beacons of light in a cynical world. So go ahead - channel your inner Lasso! Give someone an absurd compliment that makes them chuckle. Offer words of comfort when all seems lost. Dust yourself off and try again when you mess up.
Disclaimer: If you don’t watch Ted Lasso, and you’d like to start, be aware that it centers around an English football team, and as you can imagine, the footballers can curse up a storm!