On May 7th, ABC aired a one-hour special, Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. Fox traveled the globe to explore the enduring quality of hope. He talked to both famous and everyday people who have not let difficulties stand in the way of their happiness — venturing everywhere from the secluded Himalayan nation of Bhutan, a modern day Shangri Law that stresses the importance of joy in everything it does, to President Obama’s inspiring inauguration.
Considering the complex economic and international hardships of modern times, the whole world is reevaluating the role that optimism should play and even asking whether happiness could be legislated. The special goes so far to pose the question: What if we measured our country’s growth and success by the “Gross National Happiness” instead of the “Gross National Product.”
During the special, Michael makes an interesting point about how to be optimistic when he says,
“Instead of wishing for a lighter load, why don’t we ask for broader shoulders.”
This way of thinking kind of puts things in perspective considering that in 1998 Fox publicly revealed he had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease and two years later, made the difficult decision to walk away from a highly successful acting career with credits that include the hit movie Back to the Future and comedy TV series Family Ties. He is still an actor, but his focus has shifted to Parkinson’s disease. His disease has not stood in the way of his happiness. For example, he explains,
“For everything this disease has taken, something with greater value has been given. So sure, it may be one step forward and two steps back, but after a time with Parkinsons, I’ve learned that what is important is making that one step count.”