What makes an optimist an optimist? Is it something in our DNA? Is there some kind of brain chemistry that is different to others?
I am an optimist – sometimes to the point that I’m sure it drives people crazy! During some conversations recently, I have come to realise there is a fundamental difference in how I view, react or comment on situations.
For example, compare the reaction of a friend and I to a television programme about a child living with a chronic, debilitating illness. As the programme followed the family around in their daily lives and the challenges that they faced and overcame every day, my friend commented, “Oh, God! How horrific! How do they even begin to deal with that?”. Meanwhile, I sat in awe and said “Wow! What an amazing child!”. Our basic reactions to the same thing were so wildly different!
Although I’ve always been a naturally positive person, actually making the effort to be continually positive and optimistic has still been a choice and it’s a choice that has changed my life for the better. Having experienced some things in life that are designed to challenge, hurt and even break a person’s spirit, there has been so much that could have turned me into Little Miss Cynical. Yet, while what happened was not my choice, how I reacted to it and how I came through to the other side was very much a choice.
I choose to be positive.
Anyone who has read my blog for a while will know that over the past year I have been actively seeking out and embracing new challenges and experiences. This would have been nigh on impossible had I approached it with a negative, pessimistic attitude. Too often I had found myself being dragged down by negativity, only to find that it held me back and made me too afraid to try new things. I read somewhere that positive things happen to positive people. I don’t think this completely accurate, but I do think positive people are naturally more open to new things – some of which may well be positive (but not all of them!).
It’s not all sunshine, rainbows and roses when you are an optimist. Sometimes it is truly hard to see the positive in your day and to keep your head up. When you have expectations held so high, they have much further to fall. When you believe the best of people, and are positive about new situations, the impact can often be much tougher when those people let you down, or the new adventure does not go to plan.
What makes someone an optimist isn’t how they are when things are going to plan – it matters more how they react to things when they go wrong, or when people hurt them or let them down. Keeping perspective and recognising that this too shall pass is almost second nature to optimists.
While I’m not sure if my brain chemistry is perhaps different from the average cynic, I truly do not see where the benefit is of living a life full of negativity and continually being angry at the lot that life has dealt you. You only have one life. One chance. One beautiful rollercoaster to ride here on earth. Why not be hopelessly in love with the life you are living – embracing the good and the bad?
Start by believing the glass is half full and then fill it all the way!
It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live – Albus Dumbledore