A Kids Book About: The Podcast

Meir Talks About Optimism (R)

Episode Summary

Meir Kay, author of A Kids Book About Optimism, talks about how optimism can help us embrace hope, overcome obstacles, and have confidence in a joyful and successful future.

Episode Notes

A Kids Book About Optimism (view book)

Full Book Description:

Do you want to be happy? Doesn't everyone? Happiness often comes from a personal shift in perspective, which sounds simple, but can be a real challenge and definitely takes practice! This book is a fun exploration of how to engage an optimistic and empowering mindset and how to make choices that lead to more opportunities, positivity, and joy.

About the Author:

Meir Kay is all about spreading his message of positivity and kindness, whether that’s through his viral social media videos, hosting The Great Day podcast, or public speaking engagements. He loves to travel, act, run marathons, and create films that spread positivity, respect, and human connection.

Episode Transcription

A Kids Book About: The Podcast

S1 E021, Meir Talks About Optimism (R)


Matthew: What is optimism?

Jonah: Optimism is thinking positive. It’s all about positivity.

Meir: Optimism for me is, um, it's, it's hope. It's confidence about the future of a successful outcome, whatever that may be successful for you. But it's about having hope and having joy and confidence that whatever may happen, we'll be, we'll be good. 


Matthew: Welcome to A Kids Book About: The Podcast! I’m Matthew. I’m a teacher, a librarian, and I’m your host. The voices you heard at the top of our show were from Jonah and Meir. 

Each week we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series.

Meir: Hello friends. My name is Meir Kay, and I am the author of A Kids Book About Optimism. I would describe myself as a Jewish man, a filmmaker, actor, podcaster, and motivational speaker.

And yeah, I'm the proud author of A Kids Book About Optimism. 

Matthew: Oh my word I have been waiting to share this conversation with you, because it’s one that centers on hope, and positive outlook, and a belief that, accepting whatever challenges are in front of us, things will turn out alright. And if they don’t, we’ll keep pushing forward until they do. 

Meir, that’s spelled “M-e-i-r” for those who want to look him up, was a kid a lot like a good number of you, I suspect. Let’s hear it from him and you tell me.

Meir: People always told me like, “Meir, you always seem like a happy kid or optimistic kid or positive kid.”

And, uh, I I'm blessed to say that it, you know, as a kid. It seemed natural to me, it just seemed very natural. It was sort of the house hold that I grew up in thankfully. And my parents had a certain outlook towards life that they passed onto me to always look for the good. Look for what's possible. Um, even again, perhaps something is now challenging or tough, but it'll change.

You know, just like our thoughts and feelings never see the same as always a constant change. So, too, right now, in the very moment we're going through something there's always a change and we could look at it and even help. You know, there's a saying in the book: “Think good and it'll be good. If we actually truly put in that effort, we think about it, and we, and we plan for it. We manifest it. We bring that down into this actual reality, like, “Yes, this could happen. This could happen. This could happen. It will happen.” We really have a power that we could help shift and look at the world in a more like optimistic way. 

Matthew: It’s not as simple as just choosing to have a positive attitude or a negative one. It’s not as basic as choosing to trust that people have good intentions or they don’t. It’s a bit deeper than that. 

Meir: The way someone shows optimism is by the, by the way they carry themselves, by the way they use their words. Sometimes they don't have to even use words, but just by their energy that they put out into the world, whether it's, you know, standing a little bit taller or smiling a bit more, or, you know, having an encouraging word. 

Sometimes, you know, optimism is... it does not necessarily mean that right now in this very moment things are going well.

However, it's, it's having the idea that, you know, what it's going to get better. Things will heal, you know? In the book I use the example where like I broke my arm and in that moment, it's I couldn't just say, oh yeah, this is, everything is great. Like, no, I love playing sports and running around and using my arm to its full capacity, but it was broken.

So I was sad and it hurt, but I was optimistic. I knew that it's going to heal. It'll get better. And throughout this time with the journey of having my broken arm, I'll have stories to tell. And it even was a great way to like make some friends in class because they were able to come over and sign my cast.

So even within those sad moments, I was optimistic that we'll get better and also looked at things in a way that would find new opportunity to, to blossom and grow and, and find new opportunities to make friends and build better connections.

Matthew: Have you ever broken a bone? I have not broken a bone. Not in my entire life! That seems weird, right? My sister broke her arm when she was 5 or 6 and I remember that my mom saved her cast for years and years. 

Meir: It was like literally 15 years later until I think my mom like threw out my, like smelly old cast.

Cause I, I wanted them to I held onto it forever. Like I was like, “Oh my God, no, wait! This is like a memory. This is a momento from my, you know, from my, my earlier days. So it was, it was hard to let go. 

But yeah, it was, it was definitely one of the perks about breaking your arm. Not to suggest to do so, but if you end up breaking it off, that's definitely fun. 

Later on. I actually had a friend who broke his arm and he put like, he like decorated with glitter and jewels and attached to like, like really he got really funky and creative with this. I was very impressed with that. 

Matthew: Quick public service announcement: Listeners, DO NOT try to break your arm. DO NOT try to break any bones, for that matter. It will hurt. You’ll have to go to the doctor and your parents will have to pay the bills to have it repaired. And if you really want a cool cast that people can sign, craft one from materials that are okay to write on. Not… seeking ways to get an actual cast. Okay. Just felt like I needed to say it.

But getting us back on track, can you tell that optimistic outlook Meir has even from when big things happen like breaking an arm? Does it give you a sense of how it feels to be optimistic?

Jonah: To feel optimistic it means you feel joyful. You always think happy. 

Meir: It's a great feeling. I feel like a surge of energy. Uh, maybe a skip in my step. I, my shoulders are a bit back and my head's a little braised, my head, a little high.

I find myself a bit more, um, even friendlier the way I'm engaging with people. I find myself sharing optimistic viewpoints, or like, you know, just asking them more about what's going on in their life. I want to try and to see where I can be helpful with people. It really spills over to not just like the one thing that I'm trying to be optimistic about, but it really spills over to the other things in my life, too. To the way I have conversations with people. Like I said, the way I am walking and talking the way I feel inside. 

It maybe feels like a hug. Like, I feel like I'm like hugging myself. I feel like a warm sensation that's running through my body, like maybe warm tea, that's running through my blood. You know? I just feel like my, my blood stream.. like, I just feel like warm and need to or wanting to share that with other people, too. 

Matthew: I feel like this brings up a question. And maybe, as you’re listening to this, you’re wondering the same thing. If there are times when we can choose whether we approach something new or challenging with an optimistic attitude or not, why wouldn’t you choose to be positive and hopeful about the way something could go?

Meir:  So for me growing up, it was something that came naturally to me. Uh, as I grew older into my teens and early adult years, it took a lot more work. Uh, and, and now today it's, it takes work. 

And, and in the book we talk about tools and there are tools and there are ways for us to keep on sharpening our tools and to stay engaged with an optimistic point of view because naturally, naturally, as humans, I think we are a lot more fear-based we get scared and it's a way of survival. 

You may think like, oh, I, you know, “I don't want to feel these ways. Why would I want to feel fearful?” Well, it's just really a way for us to feel safe, to like, you know, for example, like public speaking can be very scary.

So we were telling ourselves, oh, “I'm afraid of public speak. I would rather not share my voice and go up in front of my classes, share my opinion, because I may be embarrassed. I may fumble on a word. They may laugh at me.” 

But what we're really doing. Engaging with this opportunity to share with who we are and what our thoughts are or what our feelings are. And that's really a big, big thing for us to do. Um, but our body, sometimes our mind tells us, you know what, it's better not to share that because you may mess up, may make a mistake. So let's, let's keep quiet, stay in the corner. And that's where fear keeps us small. 

It sometimes we'll keep us away from like keeping our expectations or our goals from, uh, from being, you know, let down. 

So it's like, “You know, what, why should I dream big? Because I may, I may not get there. So let me just think small and let me think the worst thing will happen and so I won't be disappointed” But you know what? If we shift our mindset and we think “what's the best that could happen?”, where we think about the same energy we're putting towards like the things that may not go right, we could think about, “Wow, these things actually could go, right!” 

It's the same types of thoughts. It's the same type of energy. So, you know what, why not think that way and create a successful outcome through our way of thinking, talking and behaving. 

Matthew: Coming up after the break: Meir shares some of the amazing ways he’s using optimism to change the world. Plus, he answers a question sent in by you, the listeners. Right after this.


Matthew: Welcome back to A Kids Book About: The Podcast. On today’s episode we’re talking about optimism with A Kids Book About author Meir Kay.

Meir: One of the tools that I talk about in the book A Kids Book About Optimism is that surround yourself with optimistic people and like, you know how it's like, if you're listening now, you you're around a friend you're running even a stranger.

You know, that you could feel if they're a happy person or a welcoming person, they want to talk to you or they want to keep quiet. That's energy! 

We're not saying words, but we're feeling something. And it's never great to, it's not good to deny ourselves, our feelings, whatever you're feeling. It's, it's true. Our body’s sending us signals. Our body is talking to us. 

So when I say surround yourself with optimistic people, you know, it's, you know, you could easily find those people. Those people who, who have a positive word to say, who look at the world with the optimistic outlook. They, you know, again, they may be in touch with their feelings. They may be going through something, say, that may seem tough or sad in the moment, but they have hope and they are, and they know that, you know, things will get better and we could get better together. 

Like there's a famous saying, uh, “Show me, your friends I'll show you your future.” You know? It's the people who you surround yourself with. It's those friends. It's those family members. It's that team that you put together through life. Uh, and if they're, if they're positive or optimistic, they're good human beings, then I could guarantee you that your future will be filled with those types of moments of joy and positivity and optimism that really feeds you just like your diet, just like the way you want to eat healthy.

Your body will respond to that and you'll be a healthy person. So to the way, you know, the way what we consume, what we take in from people, what would they tell us? What we read, what we listen to. This all plays a big factor into how we will develop into our future selves. 

Matthew: We’ve already said the word earlier in the show, but the opposite of optimism is pessimism. If an optimist is someone with a positive outlook on how things may go in a given situation, a pessimist might have a negative outlook.

Meir: Pessimism is easy said is the opposite of optimism and it's, um, I would say looking at, uh, the outcome in a more, uh, low energy or scarier or fearful way. Looking for the “What will be like the worst thing that could happen?”

And, and then what happens is, is we, we, we sort of put this pessimistic point of view onto, onto our future, which is not really giving us the best way of success to having a, a happy or, or confident and successful outcome. 


Matthew: I want to tread lightly here because there is no shame in thinking about things not turning out as you planned. Fixating on those things, however, might be really devastating to your mental health. 

Jonah, in Maryland, follows up with a question.

Jonah: Is it bad to be a pessimist?

Meir: Yeah. That's a great question. So, Jonah, thank you so much for your question: Is it bad to be a pessimist?

And, you know, I want the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear that question is I wouldn't want to say it's bad to be anything. Um, and what I mean by that is like, whatever it is that you're feeling or, or your viewpoint in life is, it's okay. You know, it's okay. 

And I think to be a pessimist is, is a natural way of keeping ourselves comforted or keeping yourself safe from outcomes that we don't know. We want to control everything. We want to know what's how things are going to be. And, uh, and we sometimes attach expectations. Uh, or goals of how we want these things to end up and, uh, and it's scary not to know like, oh my God, what's the future going to be? I don't know. I don't know, Jonah. 

So, um, a way for us to deal with that is to in the future in a way that like, “Okay. You know what? I'm going to keep my expectations, my goals, on a lower way. Or I'm going to not allow myself to feel joyous or feel happy or feel optimistic because I'm afraid that I'll be let down. And who is the one who wants to feel bad. 

So I wouldn't say that feeling pessimistic is a bad thing, but I think it's a start to realize that hour or two for us to know, like, there's, there's another way.

Are there are multiple, there are multiple avenues. There are multiple rows. Let's say from, I used to live in New York and now live in Los Angeles, California. So there's, there's a right or wrong way to, to get to New York telly, there's you go by plane and you go, you take a car, you could go by motorcycle by bicycle. You could walk it and run it. And there's also many roads that lead to New York to California. This is all wrong or right way. 

So I think a way of looking at life through a pessimistic viewpoint through those sort of glasses is a way people could, you could live through life. 

I think there's also a more, there's perhaps a more joyous way and this and that in my way, a more better way to look at life and, and without, without really different, without using more energy, even perhaps in a less energy. And that could be through optimistic by having a hope and having confidence. 

That whatever the future may be, I may not have control over it, but I have control over the way. I see things I don't have to leave control over what happens to me, you know? But what I do have control over is how I react to those things. And I've found through my experience, uh, is by, by having an optimistic point of view, my life has been a lot more happier and a lot more peaceful. 

Matthew: Things are happening in the world. And, whether you are aware or not, those things are having an affect on you and on every single person around you. A Kids Book About Optimism came out of the global COVID-19 pandemic. And I think hearing the story will make you appreciate Meir’s journey even more.

Meir: The greatest thing, one of the greatest things that could have came out of the pandemic, I mean, locked down was leaking up with Jelani Memory, the founder and author, founder of A Kids Book About it and the author of A Kids Book About Racism.

So, uh, I got connected with Jelani through a friend of mine called Adam Stramwasser. He's the author of A Kids Book About Money. Fantastic book. And Adam is a good friend of mine and we were just talking and he just sort of clicked. We were just talking during the pandemic, uh, and he was like, “Meir, I gotta put you in touch with a friend of mine, Jelani. And I think there's something there. Perhaps you can even write your own children's book. And of course that got me so excited because I've always wanted to be an author of children’s book. 

And, uh, and here we are in the thick of, of I'm locked down. I'm I'm in quarantine and it's scary. And I've had my tough times through that as well. And I was having challenges to be optimistic through that time. And I wanted something creative to do. I wanted to put something out into the world and the timing couldn't have been couldn't have not been more magical being Jelani. We talked and, uh, within, you know, a few short months, we, we, we, we locked on the idea of optimism. It's something that I live by and wanted to share with the world. 

And just with the timing, of course, what was going on with the world that we believed that the world needed a bit more optimism in it. So we created that. We created the book and now it's out here in the universe and it's been a beautiful journey to be a part of.

Meir: It was like, everybody got vulnerable. Everybody talked about their story. And then I went last and like, it was like, it was so huge. So powerful to just like, I'm like, wow, we were just strangers before this phone call. And now we're like very intimate. We know each other and it felt like a family from the get-go and the whole kids book about a family.

And it's a great, it's great to be part of, be part of it. 

Matthew: I want to leave you, listeners, with a bit of Meir out in the universe. Maybe you’ve read A Kids Book About Optimism. Maybe after listening to this you’re going to look for it at your local library. Maybe hearing Meir talk about optimism has drawn you in some way to who he is or how he walks through the world. 

I first really knew who Meir was through YouTube and the incredible and incredibly heartfelt things Meir does through his channel and throughout his city to see people, to welcome them in, to encourage them to play, and to remind them that they’re loved. 

Meir: Yeah, I, well, I, from the get-go, I always loved creating content or love creating films and short films and loved acting and performing. And I also knew that this was such a powerful tool. And YouTube came about.

And so I knew I wanted to share messages of positivity. I'm just a good, positive guy, optimistic guy. I want to, I want to show up in the world in this way, and I want to share those messages. So I saw, you know, what, let me share this through video combined the two, and that could be a powerful platform and a way to connect with so many people.

The way I use YouTube and my platform and social media to spread optimism and positivity and love is through various short films and social experiments. Like some that you just mentioned. Um, more recently I went on the streets of New York city. I blindfolded myself and I had a sign and expressed that I stand for peace and I want to connect with other human beings. And was it just like, “Hey, I had my hands right open and who wants to give me a hug?” And it was so beautiful. People stepped into that space and from all walks of life, right. Gave me hugs and we connected for a few moments and we shared beautiful words of this connection and support around peace and, and love.

And, uh, I, yeah, I, I actually went around New York City high fiving New Yorkers. 

Sometimes I make social experiments where I want to help people feel more comfortable in their own skin or to feel more confident about themselves. Um, for example, like I had a box in Union Square in New York City and I asked people before they step into the box, I said, there was this powerful, incredible leader inside. And what does it take to be a leader? 

And people gave him great adjectives about being confident or, you know, to, to, to, to support other people. And they went on to be level, to be loving and compassionate. And some, some of them thought that this would be a leader, but they didn't think this way about themselves. And they walked inside this box and inside the box wasn't anybody, but just a mirror and the message of it was for them to see themselves as this leader, as being compassion and love, because. 

We're all filled with these beautiful things. We're all filled with love and compassion and strength and good power to show up as leaders as ourselves. So what I try to do is to create spaces where people go show up as their authentic selves to feel safe and to express themselves as themselves, and also to connect with other human beings and realize that, you know, we have more in common than we think. 


Matthew: Thank you to Meir Kay, author of A Kids Book About Optimism, for joining us today. And thanks to our very special kid voices for helping make this episode what it is.

Jonah: Hi, my name is Jonah. I am 10 years old and I live in Maryland. My favorite thing is my Nintendo Switch because I get to play Fortnite and get to play with my friends.

Matthew: Thank you, Jonah! Listeners, if you want to be on a future episode of A Kids Book About: The Podcast or if you have a question you’d like us to consider, have a grownup email us at listen@akidspodcastabout.com and we’ll send you the details. 

A Kids Book About: the Podcast is written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner, with help from Chad Michael Snavely and the team at Sound On Studios. Our executive producer is Jelani Memory. And this show was brought to you by A Kids Podcast About. 

Follow the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and wherever podcasts are found, and if you liked this episode, consider sharing it with a friend, teacher, or grownup. 

Join us next week for a discussion about money with A Kids Book About author Adam Stramwasser.