By Kathy Baker
[Editor's Note: It is very easy to stay optimistic when
everything is going for you and you cannot do anything wrong. The true
test of optimism is the ability to keep one's head high and crack a
joke when the whole world crumbles around you.
every reason to be sad and be sore at this world. Her husband suffers
from cancer and is disabled. She recently discovered that he brother
has contracted cancer too. In spite of all these setbacks Kathy still
keeps up good spirits. It is an amazing talent. I am proud to present
this work by one of the persons I am proud to introduce as my friend,
Dr. J. Mathew, Chief Editor]
You've all met pessimistic people. These are the people who wear those gloomy-colored spectacles. They view the glass as half-empty, rather than half-full. These are the folks who, like "Eeyore," the sad sack donkey in A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, consistently view life in a negative way. If someone gives them a gift, it's the wrong color. If someone asks them to try something new, they say they "can't." If they get a promotion at work, they dwell on the heavier workload, the stress they expect to feel, and the longer hours, instead of the pay raise and the opportunities the new job offers. If someone in their family gets sick, they're convinced it's cancer. If someone calls, they figure it's going to be bad news. When you ask them how their day is going, they report the one thing that didn't go well, instead of the numerous things that did.
Optimists are people who look for the good in every situation-every situation, no matter what it is! It may be pretty darn horrible, but the optimist will search endlessly for the tiny kernel of good that is inherent in everything. This is because they don't want to feel like a victim.
Optimists, thank God, are just the opposite. They view the world with hope, humor, and interest, no matter what happens. They wear those gorgeous rose-colored specs, the better to see the beauty all around them. Their glass is always half full; in fact, optimists often see their cup as brimming with good, even when to outsiders it may look just the opposite. They receive gifts with anticipation, regardless of what's in the package, because they know it's the thought that counts. If given a new job, they relish the challenge. If someone is sick, even if does happen to be something serious, they focus on finding stepping stones to guide them through the crisis. When you call an optimist, their voice crackles over the phone with enthusiasm, even if you've awakened them or interrupted them. And when you ask how their day has been, the optimist will dwell on the good things, even if it's been a "bad" day and they have to dig to find something good to report.
I think we all know that being optimistic is better. It's more healthy, more productive, and more fun-not to mention the fact that an upbeat attitude helps to attract good people and things to one's life. However, sadly, many pessimists never make it. They firmly believe that they cannot change, that they were "just born this way," that they are victims of fate. It's enough to make even an optimist cry.
Perhaps you yourself are a pessimist-or at least feel a bit "down" too often. First of all, consider talking with a medical professional to ensure that you aren't suffering from depression. But if you think it's simply your habit to view life negatively, the good news is that YOU (and only you) can transform yourself into a dyed-in-the-wool optimist!
How, you ask skeptically? Here's a short list to get you started:
Change your thoughts. It can be done. When a negative response to a situation enters your mind, cut it off at the pass before it leaves your lips. Turn "Why would I want to do that?" into "That sounds like fun. I'll try it." Then fake it till you make it!
Take responsibility. Instead of being a "victim" of a given situation, turn it around. Instead of thinking, "No one likes me," try changing others' perceptions of you by showing an interest in them. Find ways to give instead of moping!
Reject responsibility. In some cases, pessimists get that way by thinking everything is their fault. This takes you conveniently off the hook, though. Instead, think: "I know that this wasn't my fault. I'm not a bad person." Then look around to see if there's anything more you can do to improve things.
Don't magnify everything. Don't seek perfection in yourself or others. Keep things in perspective. Don't see things as all black or all white. They seldom are.
Learn to accept and give compliments. Experience the pleasure you can give someone who's either giving you a compliment or receiving one of yours. Accept that others care about you!
The Flip Side
Optimists, on the other hand, are people who look for the good in every situation-every situation, no matter what it is! It may be pretty darn horrible, but the optimist will search endlessly for the tiny kernel of good that is inherent in everything. This is because they don't want to feel like a victim. Optimists aren't Pollyannas, out of touch with reality. On the contrary, they are firmly rooted in what's real. They take charge of their attitudes and mold them until they form a rose-colored glow.
Would I tell you these things if they weren't true? Absolutely not! I know what it is to be a "born" pessimist, because I was one for many years. Even now, I can get in a snit when things don't go my way. But over many years, I've trained myself to seek the good in each situation and person. Easy? Heck, no. But infinitely possible. And greatly rewarding. So whip out those rose-colored Foster Grants, will you? You'll look marvelous in them!