Just imagine you are standing there fat, dumb and happy and all of a sudden this roundhouse curve hits you square in the jaw. You are stunned and begin to stagger. As you regain your senses you assess what planet you are on and what is your next course of action.
Reality sucks! No matter who you are or who your daddy is, you are going to find that bump in the road. Adversity is a part of life whether physical or emotional. You can lose your job or your shirt in some half assed scheme. Your spouse leaves you. You miss that clutch putt. You are a Bear’s fan and the ball bounces the wrong way. Even worse you are a Saint’s fan and you did nothing wrong. TS, mes amis.
Now it is not that I am heartless. I have been there more times than I care to tell. You are battered and bruised. You are not sure which hurts more, your body or your ego? You feel stupid. You feel alone. How could it possibly be any worse?
Then deep down inside that little spark of a thing we call resilience seems to stir. You assess the situation. Are we talking a glancing or fatal blow? Is it as bad as it seems? Better yet can we somehow devise a plan B? And therein is the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. Glass half full or half empty.
I am always amazed at human emotions. There are people today that wring their hands constantly. They moan and groan about everything large and small. They are convinced the world and humanity are in a nosedive that we won’t come out of.
There is a pessimist philosophy which is not so much an emotional reaction but a way of looking at life. It feels that progress is irrational and our inability to achieve things with greater results just sets us up for failure and its ensuing discomfort. Yuck!
I do know some that set very low goals for themselves. They figure if they set the bar low enough they either can’t fail or the drop will be minimal. They see me in the gym and say they could never do that. Get up and sing? What are you nuts? They beg off discussions feeling their words and thoughts are rather insignificant. That is their prerogative but I can’t help but feel badly for them.
Enter the optimist. Stage right. Churchill’s famous quote that “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I am not sure that is completely true. One does not bounce up off the mat without a little cut that needs to be attended to. But after a little TLC, get over it and let’s move on.
I like to play, “What is the worse thing that could happen?” When you answer that, you ask it again and again until you should realize that things are not quite so desperate as we make them out to be. That is unless Kathy finally says,Adios Big Boy! Now that would be cause for serious concern.
We look at sports stars like the hated Tom Brady. No?. OK, How about Patrick Mahomes ? The kid is a magician very much akin to Houdini. Politicians? How about Bill Clinton escaping the Monica thing? I do want to watch carefully to see how the Donald does in the next three weeks. But time after time people bend but don’t break.
You can ask is it something special in them or the human spirit? I prefer the latter. Go back to our survival instincts. We fight back. We try harder. We dust ourselves off and get back in the fray. It is not a super gene but rather an acquired talent.
The last part is the best. When you look at life and especially here in these United States you can’t help but feel gratitude. When you are thankful you realize all we have. You look around and take everything in and then you laugh at yourself. My daughter Megan has a perfect saying when she encounters someone bitching. “Well that is really a third world problem isn’t it!” How right she is.
I know people hurt from time to time and some bear more than others. I am not trying to be Pollyanna. But having been on the dark side I can’t tell you how much better it is to look on the bright side. If you are breathing you are ahead of the game. If you had at least one meal today you are better than lot of other people. If you are able swing a golf club who cares what your score is?
Ted The Great
Optimistic people have less stress, better immune systems, live longer and of course are nicer to be around.Pessimism has been linked to mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, and depression
Dr Martin Seligman has clinically proven that optimism can be taught and learned. He has written a book called Learned Optimism. Easy read and a number of pathways to getting you straight.
There are no hard facts on percentages of people who feel optimistic. It depends on the topic. Also we feel more optimistic about our own personal future than about our country or the world. Lastly the people who are most optimistic are the Chinese.
Murders, car wrecks and threatening weather are what sells newspapers and air time on news channels.
Like you, Ted, I’ve relied on the “what’s the worst thing that could happen” approach for much of my life. It’s helped me take on risk and leaps of faith that I might have otherwise backed away from to avoid failure or disappointment. I keep toxic and negative people at arm’s length and seek to have meaningful relationships with people who see the good in others and assume positive intent – people like You.
Amen, bro. P