ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Life of Helen Keller, A Series - Part 6 Optimism, Joy & Happiness

Updated on October 21, 2011

A multi-part, in-depth series on the life of Helen Keller. Part 6: Optimism, Hope & Happiness

As a deaf-blind individual who prospered in a world that very much relies on sight and hearing, Helen always placed stock in remaining an optimst. For many, optimism is simply remaining positive during a bad day, but for Helen, optimism was a way of life – a necessity. More importantly, Helen believed pessimism to be dangerous, never allowing herself to lose hope. “If it be true that optimism compels the world forward, and pessimism retards it,” Helen once wrote, “then it is dangerous to propagate a pessimistic philosophy.”[i]

Just after graduating from college at twenty-three, Helen wrote her second book, My Key of Life: Optimism. Released to widespread critical acclaim, the book was simply a guide to obtaining and retaining optimism and hope. Nearly overnight, Helen became a beacon for hope and overcoming indescribable odds.

Using this recognition, Helen began to travel the world, sharing her story and optimism with others. And for Helen, this was no small feat. Imagine a time speaking in front a large audience, now imagine you cannot hear yourself, or see your audience. This was just one small challenge in Helen’s life.

After years of voice coaching, and tremendous concentration, Helen was able to speak. During one early lecture, however, Helen began to lose her composure and lost control over the tone of her voice. Realizing this, Helen ran crying off stage. Yet, Helen did not let this event, unthinkable to many, stop her. Just moments later, she walked back on stage and continued her lecture. For the rest of her life, Helen gave thousands of lectures all over the world.[ii]

Throughout her life, Helen believed it was her lot in life – her “sacred duty” – to share her optimism with others. In her book on optimism, Helen wrote, “If I am happy in spite of my deprivations, if my happiness is so deep that it is a faith, so thoughtful that it becomes a philosophy of life, - if, in short, I am an optimist, my testimony to the creed of optimism is worth hearing.” [iii]

[i]Keller, My Key of Life: Optimism, pg. 53.

[ii]Helen Keller, Midstream: My Later Life,

(New York: Doubleday Doran, 1929), pg. 97.

[iii]Keller, My Key of Life: Optimism, pg. 12-13.

On True Happiness

“The will to be happy,” Helen once wrote, “animates alike the philosopher, the prince and the chimney-sweep. No matter how dull, or how mean, or how wise a man is, he feels that happiness is his indisputable right.”[i] For Helen, happiness could not be found in wealth or material possessions, but in ever-lasting riches, such as close friendships and the companionship of animals.

As consumption grew in the world, so did contentment in material wealth. This fact troubled Helen, who saw material wealth as an illusion. “Reality,” Helen warned, “even when it is sad, is better than illusions. Illusions are at the mercy of any winds that blow. Real happiness must come from within, from a fixed purpose and faith in ones fellowmen.”[ii]

Helen believed that happiness derived from material objects was elusive and short-lived; joy came from within, and from the hearts and minds of others. “Most people measure their happiness in terms of physical pleasure and material possession.” Helen advised, “Lacking this gift or that circumstance they would be miserable. If happiness is to be so measured, I who cannot hear or see have every reason to sit in a corner with folded hands and weep.”[iii]

In an age of technology, relationships have become artificial and lacking. Therefore, Helen's thoughts on happiness are more important than ever before. “If those who seek happiness would only stop one little minute and think, they would see the delights they really experience are as countless as the blades of grass at their feet.”

[i]Keller, My Key of Life: Optimism, pg. 11.

[ii]Helen Keller, ed. Philip Foner, Helen Keller:

Her Socialist Years, (New York, International

Publishers, 1967), pg. 65.

[iii]Keller, My Key of Life: Optimism, pg. 12.

© Matthew Gordon, 2011


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)