Through no fault of my own, my brain is hardwired for optimism. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. I tend to believe that things in my life will generally play out favorably, and that bad situations will soon be resolved. My mom was like that, and my grandma, too. I married an optimistic gal, and she gave me optimistic kids.
More often than not life proves my outlook correct. I can only speak anecdotally, looking exclusively through the lens of my own experience, but so far there have been a lot more joys than sorrows, and it hasn’t even been close. For sure, there are dark tears massing on the horizon, but even more laughs.
Now, for some reason I’ve never understood, not everyone appreciates this disposition. It seems to provoke a reaction in some people–even make them angry. Often, they seek to disabuse me of my foolishness. “You can’t go through life believing everything is going to turn out all right,” they tell me, “Because life isn’t like that. It doesn’t always turn out the way you’d like.” And then they ask, “What happen then? What happens when all your well-laid plans unravel like a cheap rug; when the thing you wanted is denied you, and at last you’re brought low?”
Well, then I’m disappointed.
I think it’s awesome to be this way. In some ways I am like that. For example…no matter how many times I fail to meet my personal goals with regards to getting in shape, I keep telling myself “tomorrow is a new day.” It may seem small and stupid, but it beats giving up totally and letting myself go. Haha. On the other hand, I do always hate it when people hear about your distress (Like that whole three months we had to fight with unemployment for my husband’s money and had NO income while I was pregnant!!!) and say something trite like “it will all work out.” I feel like strangling them whilst smiling in their face, saying “Okay, that’s nice… Do you HAVE a place to live? Cuz I don’t know how long I will….”
But generally speaking, yes, I think a healthy balance of optimism and pragmatism is prob good for peace of mind. It annoys me how my hubby always seems to expect the worst out of every situation.
Thanks for dropping by, ARQ! I definitely know what you mean wanting to strangle some people when they blithely assure you that YOUR life will be okay. I don’t know if it counts as optimism if it’s just knowing that other people “don’t have it as bad as they think.” I think that stems from a lack of empathy (although one we’re not aware of). We transpose our own life experiences and expectations onto the lives of others.
Was just telling my best friend that yesterday. We often make the mistake of assuming others would feel the same way we would in the same given situation.
Smak, I try very hard to remain optimistic even during the worst times because as you say, it really does all work out eventually. Maybe not the way we anticipate, but it’ll work out. There is this great phrase from the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, something like, “Everything will all work out in the end, if it hasn’t, it’s not the end.” Great movie, btw if you’ve not seen it.
That’s not to say I don’t get in some darker moods. When I do, I remind myself how lucky I am. I stop and express gratitude. When I do that, my mood always lifts. Always. I’ll take Pollyanna over Debbie Downer any day. And really, everything always looks better in the morning, right?
And to you, Brigitte! I think dark moods affect everybody. And, it’s hard to see the sunshine in the midst of the storm, but it is those occasional times of feeling bad that help us appreciate the times that life is good to us.
Carrie Rubin said:
Although I can be a cynic and pessimist in little matters, when it comes to the big things in life, I’m an optimist. Who wants to spend their days thinking nothing will turn out well? That sounds too depressing to even consider. So embrace your optimism!
Thanks, Connie! I can’t live any other way. I wouldn’t want to. I should add that I’m not blindly optimistic or unrealistic, I just think life is pretty beautiful most of the time.
The Writing Waters Blog said:
It’s good you think that way. The more people who do, the better for everyone. Someday there will a critical mass and when we least expect it, the world will be a happier and better place.
Thanks! In general, I think that’s true, but there is a place for healthy pessimism. I think that a liberal sprinkling of them throughout the population would probably help to keep the optimists a little more in check.
William Miller said:
Unfortunately, I was raised by a Protestant cynic and a Catholic pessimist, so I’ve opted to become an agnostic realist (and a Mets fan.) Gets me through the day, though I could use a few more laughs now and then.
But I am glad that people like you exist, or the world would somehow be an even darker place than it already is.
Thanks, Bill! And if I’m honest, like your Catholicism, my fundy upbringing probably affected my disposition (“Hey, don’t worry about it…God’ll be coming back any day now).
El Guapo said:
Be as happy as you like.
Just not near me.
And certainly not before I’ve had coffee.
Funny that you mention that, Guap, ’cause it’s something I’ve actually thought about (I think about all manner of strange, but usually PG-13 rated, things). I imagine that if we worked together in a medium to large office you would find me at times an enervating presence (“He’s a nice enough guy, but Jesus…”). If we worked together in a small office you would most likely stab me to death with a cheap disposable pen.
I’m a jaded New Yorker who works for a jaded New Yorker, but for the past three years I’ve been sitting next to a millennial, who has a naturally sunny disposition. As you know, my colleague’s Lame Adventures name is Godsend, and that’s partly because her capacity to look at the bright side of life gives The Boss and me balance. She’s also the one willing to go outside on five degree days to pick up the cupcakes. That’s something even the most jaded and cynical can cheer. No way am I doing anything to break her happy spirit.
You have such great nicknames for the “characters” in your life (my fave is your ex, Rocket Redglare, I think it was) and I’ve always thought that Godsend was a particularly sweet one.
My other half is truly an optimist and thankfully, he keeps be balanced on the positive side. Nice post, Smak. Happy Thursday, kind sir.
I think it’s a question of being hardwired as well. I’ve always been optimistic as well – it’s never made sense for me not to be.
I also find it extremely amusing at those who take offense at it – it’s like they’re on some sort of mission to make us realize the errors of our ways! Sorry but sunshine always trumps darkness.
I’m not at all surprised to find you’re of an optimistic bent. Your poetry is very life-affirming (that’s not a term I usually say with a straight face, but it seems appropriate here).
Yay, optimism — you should have no shame!
I’d love to be more optimistic about the future of humanity. And the last thing I would want to do is go after other people who are more optimistic than I am. We need more optimism, not less, so good for you for being you!