I often describe myself as a reformed pessimist. If you have been here before you may know that I have been on a multi-year journey to change my outlook and by extension my life. The tagline for this blog, “a realistic approach to an optimistic life”, best sums up my approach these days.
It has not been a simple process. There have been twists and turns, bumps and bruises, and gigantic steps forward and backward. It has been an exercise in patience, both mine with others and most certainly theirs with me. It has been a fulfilling learning experience of trial and error. While the ride is far from over, at five years in I can see definitive, measurable results from the efforts.
I can tell you that turning away from pessimism has allowed me to change the way I interact with the world and the people around me. It has enabled me to unload the unnecessary, unwanted weight of negativity, thereby providing a new sense of lightness and freedom. It has given me the opportunity to find a level of happiness that a half-decade ago I would not have thought possible. I would like to share a few of the most noticeable differences that I can see.
I wake up each morning looking for possibilities instead of problems. Where I used to begin the day with a mental rundown of all of the annoyances and roadblocks I was sure to face, I now start with a vision of the good things that may happen. Yes, there are days that are stressful and taxing, but instead of talking myself into a doom-and-gloom mood I prep to take on the challenges by reminding myself that they are short-term and will not last forever.
I no longer anticipate the worst case scenario. Even the most optimistic people know that bad things happen. It is how we react when they do that makes the difference. If we allow ourselves to be defeated by a setback or a complication we can create a rapid downward spiral. This often leads to an accelerated deterioration of our viewpoint that can be hard to reverse. If, however, we choose to look for solutions to the problems we face, then we can find the fortitude to work through the difficult times. We can recognize and accept that tough times are inevitable, but we can opt to search for ways to pull ourselves out of them rather than letting them pull us under.
I have found my “walk away” point. One trait that many pessimists have in common is their need to argue. If they see something, anything, in a negative light, then they are not satisfied until they have made their best effort to make you see it in the same way. If you bring up the pros of a situation you can bet your bottom dollar they will fire back with a ready list of cons. One of the hardest parts of my journey has been the letting go of this need to argue, to be right, and to have the last word. It has also been one of the most rewarding parts, as I have finally discovered that I can walk away, even if it means letting someone else “win” the debate. I have realized that true victory comes not from getting the better of someone in an argument but from the peace of mind that walking away allows you to retain.
I welcome happiness and love into my life. It has been surprising over these past five years to see just how far-reaching the impacts of a more positive perspective have been. The swing from pessimism to a realistic optimism has turned me into a kinder person. It has made me approachable and open. Adopting a favorable viewpoint has granted me the ability to stop expending my energy on negative people and to start focusing on the positive ones. It has enabled me to strike up new friendships, and it has freed me to both give and accept love.
I am not telling anyone that they need to change. That is a decision that can only come from within. I will tell you that it is not an endeavor that will be undertaken in vain. The benefits extend to your mind, your health, and even to your appearance. Yes, it is true…a smile looks much better on you than a frown! Cheers! Karen