A Reformed Pessimist

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


47 thoughts on “A Reformed Pessimist

  1. I’m glad you’re feeling much better about your attitude toward life. It sounds like such an easy change to make but in truth it’s probably you struggled with early on and still have to check yourself with in occasion. But your description about how you begin each day looking for possibilities is refreshing. Good for you and good luck keeping it going.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh yes, there have definitely been some humbling moments. Just today I had to check myself at Walmart, though one can hardly be blamed there…

      I am working on it every day, and I can say it has made life much more enjoyable! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I love this. As you know, I, too, am a reformed pessimist. It’s a long time training, but it’s worth it! I still sometimes catch myself with the dreaded negative thoughts, but it’s rarer and rarer all the time.


  3. I have been working on this very much, and much of it has been inspired by you. I thank you so much for sharing, and helping me get there along with you. Changing the way you’ve thought and acted your WHOLE LIFE is so hard- but more than worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Being able to walk away is something I’ve *finally* learned to do. Took long enough, but finally realized that I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to make someone with no grasp on logic, ya know, be able to grasp logic.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Another great post! Finding that walk away point and actually walking away can be very difficult. Good for you for finding it and doing it! I love happiness….so glad you are where you are!!! 🙂 Love reading your posts. So real.


  6. Walk-away point! Yes… I still have difficulty in understanding when to pause. Sometimes it mistakenly feels like giving up when in retrospection, I’d have done myself a favour if I had stopped. Great inspiration Karen!


  7. You are definitely headed the right direction. Sometimes it is not easy, but we were never promised an easy life 🙂 Keep up the great work and keep thinking positive. I love the seashore photos.


  8. Karen, with every word you write, there is a flow of energy, joy, optimism and hope coming from within! You’ve written yet again another amazing post that focuses on finding happiness, peace and grace in each moment in life without being weighed down by negatives and “woe-is-me” attitudes. And as you say, it has to come from within ourselves to want to change…no one can make us do it.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on your journey…Here’s to many 5+ years of continued self-discovery!
    All my very best,


    • Thank you for accompanying me on this journey! I could not make the progress without the amazing network of support that I have, both here and in other areas of my life. The people I have surrounded myself with make me work harder to be better. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Caught Red Handed | theoldfellowgoesrunning

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