From the September 2001 issue of Entrepreneur

I have often been accused of being a Pollyanna, because I tend to look on the positive side of things. And I find myself often reminding people, "It's not that bad," "It's going to get better," "Put a smile on your face" and other such bromides. Lately I feel like Annie, with the refrain "the sun will come out tomorrow" constantly on my lips. Let me tell you, it's exhausting to be so "on," but I consider it part of my job (both professionally and personally).

My optimism is built-in; I came wired that way. I believe most of us are somehow programmed to be optimistic or pessimistic, and it's tough to take on the persona of the other. While I can't imagine being a negative person, I also know that my frequent sunniness gets on people's nerves sometimes.

Why am I burdening you with this? Because in tough times like the one we're going through now, you need to be more like me or surround yourself with people who are. Negativity will just breed more of the same. How can you plan for the future when you're convinced there won't even be one? How will you boost sales when you're certain no one will ever buy another thing from you?

We're not experiencing a joint recessionary hallucination. Times are tough right now. But it is precisely at these times that we need to think and act positive, to acknowledge the dark realities of where we stand but still undertake the chore of blasting our way to the sunshine.

Are there any easy solutions? Frankly, no. Taking the ostrich approach certainly doesn't work. But you should stop beating yourself up for things you didn't do, things you now realize you should have done. Being positive isn't easy work. But try it. My brother-in-law and a friend of mine (both tend toward the negative) swear reading the book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff had a huge impact on their attitudes.

Yes, of course, it's hard to smile while the world around you seems to be crumbling. But keep in mind that times have been tough before, and we recovered. And so we will again.