There is something about a birthday that causes me to become reflective. I have been writing this column for many years now and it seems as if June’s installment is always slanted toward something that is on my mind due to the impending birthday. Human nature, being what it is, tends toward being somewhat pessimistic when another birthday comes up so quickly after coming to grips with the last one. The older a person gets, the more quickly the years and months seem to fly by. When a person is very young a year can seem to be an eternity, especially when it is the couple of years before one is legally able to obtain a driver’s license.
Somewhere in the mid-twenties to the early thirties time seems to spin out of control and the more years that pass by, the faster they go until it really seems that one birthday begins immediately after the celebration of the last. (Notice that I used the word celebration to refer to a birthday.)
Life should be a celebration and an optimist attempts to celebrate a new birthday and the wonders that the upcoming year will bring, while a pessimist simply looks at the fact that another year is gone and they are that much closer to the final one. This month we will take a good look at whether we are optimistic or pessimistic, which is best for us and our personal well-being, and most important, how can we become more optimistic?
We need to start at the beginning and define the terms. Old habits die hard and former school teacher that I am, I will go to Mr. Webster for the official defining of these terms.
Optimism: The doctrine that the existing world is the best possible. The belief that good ultimately prevails over evil. The tendency to take the most hopeful view of matters or to expect the best outcome in any circumstances. Practice of looking on the bright side of things.
Pessimism: The doctrine that the existing world is the worst possible. The belief that the evil in life outweighs the good. The tendency to expect misfortune or the worst outcome in any circumstances. Practice of looking on the dark side of things.
We have a choice of whether to go through life as an optimist or a pessimist. There are very few people, if any, that are totally optimistic. It would be impossible to be “up” all the time, as we learn the lessons in a lifetime. Chaotic situations arise in all lives and if not in our own lives in the lives of those around us. On the other hand, I really have met people that are almost totally pessimistic. These are people that are so negative that very little makes them happy.
The study of Metaphysics teaches us that our attitude really does affect the outcome of situations that are affecting our lives. An example of this, and I know that every reader has experienced this one, would be the simple act of getting in the car and setting off for a destination. If you know that you are going to get stuck in a lot of traffic, get stopped at every red light, and have slow drivers in front of you… well then… that is exactly what will happen and the drive will be miserable. If you know that you will have a trouble free trip and if you send that message to the universe… guess what… you will make most of the traffic lights on green and will arrive at your destination refreshed and on time. Doubt me? Try it. You have often heard me say, “As you think, so you are.” The optimistic driver is a whole lot happier and less of a danger on the road than the pessimistic one.
A pessimist is a worrier. I ask you, when did anything become easier or better because you worried about it?
Think this through carefully and you will realize that most of what you worried about didn’t happen anyway or was not as bad as you worried that it would be. Your excessive worrying did absolutely nothing to change the negative situation anyway.
The optimist hopes for the best and usually gets it, and when dealing with a negative situation doesn’t spend night after sleepless night anticipating the devastating outcome. Optimists aren’t always happy, but they always think that they might be soon!
There are many things that one can do to be more optimistic about life. One of the worst things a person can do is nothing. Boredom and being dissatisfied with life are certain to make one pessimistic. There have been studies done that prove that optimists live about seven years longer than pessimists. An important factor in being optimistic about life is enjoying one’s work and career and there is nothing more depressing than the dread of getting up and going to work. People are actually retiring at a much older age than in years past and not just because they feel they need the money. A person needs to feel that they are doing important work and that they are a vital member of society.
I would suggest that you work on the spiritual as well as the physical. A person with a good balance of the mind, body, and spirit is always more optimistic than their bored, inactive, and negative counterpart. While we are talking about what can be done to make life more pleasant and ourselves more optimistic, take a good long look at the people with whom you spend your time.
Nothing brings a person down more than surrounding oneself with negative people!
I really do believe that some people are just more positive than others. Some people are true optimists and don’t have to work extremely hard to be that way. I also know that a person with a pessimistic character can work on being more positive. Examine your life and change some of the attitudes and thought patterns that need to be changed. I promise you that you will be happier when you work on seeing your glass as half full… not half empty. As for me, I plan to really enjoy this birthday month and look forward to the next with joy and anticipation.
And remember, knowledge is the greatest power, so Walk In The Light.
by Marcia Bender