Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A New View

I struggle with optimism. Since childhood, I have viewed life from the perspective of the glass being half full. People have often told me to lighten up and be more positive. But I don't think some of us can just flip a switch on inside ourselves to make this change. It takes recognition of our nature and thinking and then the hard work of trying to overcome it. And I'm not quite sure how to go about making these changes either. To just wake up and resolve to be more positive and hopeful - how do you go about it? There need to be steps or a plan to follow - a way to get started and ways to keep on track and motivated.

The daily message from and personal coach Dr. John H. Sklare is about optimism today. It is so good and inspiring I am repeating it here for my own inspiration and maybe for others in need as well.

"One of the keys to reaching your goals and bettering your life is an intangible human treasure called optimism. It's having 'hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favorable or hopeful view.' Helen Keller wrote: 'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.'

Those of us who fall on the pessimistic side of life's fence have a much tougher row to hoe each day. Pessimism will drain your emotional batteries, poison your motivational well and leave you feeling lost, angry and frustrated. Optimism, on the other hand, will lighten your emotional load, bring more joy into your life, lift your spirits and make you a more pleasurable companion. A reader once commented, 'With each sunrise, there is a new opportunity to start over.' The perfect attitude to have if you want to bring a more optimistic view into your life."

Well, I'm going to try and remain focused on this advice because I can sure attest to the fact that thinking the way I do, always expecting the negative and being constantly worried and anxious is a very wearying way to live. It will be extremely difficult for me to try and think even a little bit more optimistically but I want to give it a try because the old way keeps me so down and out. I've got to try something different. Maybe the commitment to a new attitude combined with drug therapy will help.

It is like everything else I am learning. We have to work to make ourselves happy, we cannot expect others to make us so. Likewise, we have the choice to be optimistic rather than seeing the situation or journey pessimistically. It is up to us. But it is work and it is hard. Hard in the face of other struggles. Easier to revert back to old, predictable and comfortable ways of thinking and doing. So hard to make changes when so many other changes are going on and necessary.

I suppose, however, it doesn't take that much effort or commitment to simply try and be more conscious of how I think and to switch how I am thinking to a more positive frame when I am aware of my dark, dooming thoughts. Cut them off at the pass by simply refusing to dwell on the what ifs and forcing myself to hope in a positive outcome vs. one that is negative. Can't hurt to try any of this. It is not costing me a penny. But like all new resolutions and promises to ourselves, we have to practice and not give up.

Found Dr. Norman Vincent Peale's little book of daily inspirational quotes, "Positive thinking Everyday" on my bookshelf. I must not be the only one in need of a motivational fix and daily reminder. Today's quote from that classic book of inspiration is: "Faith power in the mind, like adrenalin in the body, can release amazing powers within you in crisis."

Some readers have been telling me all this for many months now. But looking back, I think when we're in deep mourning or grieving a loss, as I was depressed over moving from our home last fall, that you have to get through that stuff first. When some time has passed, you can move ahead and focus on going beyond the loss. At least that is how it has been with me. In the midst of grief I have not been able to think positively and hopefully. Advice such as be more hopeful and optimistic falls on deaf ears. In fact, it irritates me and I stomp my foot and resist that advice. Maybe we need to recognize this and be less harsh on others who don't seem to be moving along as quickly as we think they should. The element of timing is part of the process of being able to cope and move forward. Maybe I've reached a place where I can put my some of the sadness aside and concentrate less on the losses and more on the present. I sure hope so.


  1. I love what you have written. We all have different personalities that determine how we may react to circumstances. It takes some longer to overcome, to see things more clearly, to heal.

    "Maybe I've reached a place where I can put my some of the sadness aside and concentrate less on the losses and more on the present. I sure hope so."

    I think you've already started!!!

  2. This of itself is such a positive post. I like your analytical approach to tackling something you feel is holding you back. I think it is possible to alter one's general outlook on life - timid people become more assertive, for example, by developing strategies to overcome their initial responses. Why shouldn't it work in the same way with negativity.
    And that advice you were given - 'With each sunrise, there is a new opportunity to start over.' - is absolutely right. I can't think of a better mantra to carry with you as you get started.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with the above two comments. Good for you for making a conscious effort on this. Maybe this is just an urban legend, but I've heard that if you make yourself smile, that is, physically contort your lips upward, that you may actually have a small, corresponding boost in mood. I certainly know from experience that when I am feeling down, if I force myself to do things I would do if I were in a better mood, it actually helps put me in a better mood. "Fake it 'til you make it." Here's a smiley face for you: :-) --ARB

  4. I too tend to be a pessimist. I heard once that we get what we expect out of life..and I was expecting the worse and that's what I got. I am trying a new tack--"In ALL things, give thanks." Trying to find something to be thankful for during the day. It isn't always easy, but perhaps through Karma or whatever...what we put out into the world, comes back to us? Negativism creates more negativism. You've had a hard row to hoe for HAS to let up sometime. Perhaps a small change in attitude would do the trick? I don't know, I have no answers, but am cheering you on. Steady on, Friend.

  5. Wow, it certainly sounds like a turning point to me.
    I don't think people here have been impatient, but just encouraging you to seek optimism. You have every reason to be sad, but I think you need to seek things out that make you happy, and you sound ready to do that now!I'm totally on board with the 'fake it till you make it'. It works!
    Love always

  6. Beth - I am beginning to realize that at some point it becomes more about letting the past go and that is how we can move forward.

    J - Sometimes just the next hour can be a new beginning too! Also, I'm finding out that it is not so easy to simply adopt new ideas and plans - practice makes perfect.

    ARB - Fake it til you make it can be used for more than smiling. Just thinking that things are going to turn out okay and believing that might help make it so.

    Judy - I think we poor pessimists face a bad rap all the time. It is hard for us to change the way we tend to think naturally. I love your idea of "In all things, give thanks." I try that concept with putting love into all things in my life. Good luck and let's compare notes in the future and see how we are doing by consciously trying to change our thinking to be more positive.

    Julie - The key I think for me, becomes balancing what is our reality and not letting that overtake us WHILE choosing to be more hopeful and optimistic and seeking out happiness. I'll see how this all goes. Thanks for cheering me on.