“…I’m not seeing things as they are; I’m seeing things as I am.” – Laurel Lee
I wonder if some people are just hard-wired for optimism. I wonder if it’s easier for some people to summon hope than it is for others. Regardless of how easy it comes to any of us, surely most of us would agree that a positive outlook is more fun than a dreary one. Expecting the worst makes us miserable even before the worst happens! Bad news or ill fortune is unpleasant in any case, but to worry about it before it strikes just prolongs the agony. And, if all the positive thinkers of the world are right, then holding on to hope and looking for powerful possibilities will actually attract our Good to us, at least sometimes. And, when the bad stuff happens, a positive outlook will help us cope with the difficulties better, and may even shorten the time of suffering.
I’ve known people who battled illness for 40 years or more. They found things to laugh at, things to enjoy in their daily life, things to be grateful for along the way. Rather than feeling sad that they were often ill, they rejoiced that they continued to live and that frequent illness hadn’t robbed their joy. I’ve also known people who seemed to think missing an elevator or getting caught by a traffic light amounted to a tragedy.
I’ve known people who never made much money, but who loved their work and their friends and who discovered wealth beyond what money can buy. I’ve also known people who made small fortunes who acted as if they expected the world to end tomorrow.
I’ve known people who have lost careers, homes, and even loved ones. And yet, they celebrate their friendships, they depend on new beginnings, and they expect that happiness will return. And, as you might guess by now, I’ve known people who had very different attitudes in life.
The people with the positive outlook just seem happier. Maybe the “mess” hits the fan less often for them because they attract good fortune with their sunny dispositions; or maybe the mess happens as often to them as to anyone else but they just don’t wallow in it. Either way, they seem to model the better path.
Of course, I don’t really have to look at the positive thinkers and the negative thinkers to make my comparisons. All I really have to do is look at the times that my outlook was positive and times that it wasn’t. Which worked out better for me? Which felt better? Which seemed more like my true self, or at least more like who I truly wanted to be? The positive thinkers can teach us something, but maybe the best lessons are taught by our own experiences of when we were truly optimistic, positive, and constructive. We already know what’s best for us…the trick is returning “home” to our truth. The good news is it’s never too late.
(c) Durrell Watkins, 2007