Our question of the week is one that I posed: “Do you consider yourself an optimist or a pessimist? Why do you think you lean that way?”
My knee-jerk response to this question is that I’m an optimist. I guess I came up with this conclusion for a few reasons:
- Pessimists, in my experience, tend to have trouble finding things to be happy about. Their social media feeds are full of situations in which they (or someone they care strongly about) have been wronged. I do believe that injustices need to be aired, and I know there are parts of the world where people have very little to be happy about. But my own life is not like that. This past month, I participated in the Thankfulness Challenge on Facebook and easily identified people and situations for which I’m grateful on each of the 28 days of the challenge.
- I like people until they give me a good reason to dislike them. I would have a difficult time coming up with a dozen people from whom I’d steer clear. Well, maybe more if I included world leaders and celebrities with whom I’m not likely to cross paths. But why waste energy disliking them if they’ll never know or care?
- My life, in my opinion, hasn’t been riddled with setbacks. No, I’m not a world-famous actress like I’d hoped to be (okay, I was seven years old when I chose that as a future profession), and I’m not a professional orchestra musician (teenage dreams), but the path I did follow has been one that’s provided me with a lot of amazing memories, and I see no point in wishing my past was any different.
- It’s part of my health/beauty regimen. I read that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, so smiling conserves energy. Anger, fear, and distrust and constant sadness can take a toll on one’s health, so it’s definitely a health benefit to stay positive. And happy people beget happiness, which leads to a healthier, happier me.
As to HOW I became an optimist, I think I’ll say that’s due to my dad’s influence. He was a happy person, and one rarely saw him without a smile on his face. He grew up during the Great Depression, and his family suffered many hardships, especially since they were considered “foreign,” yet he emerged from it with a cheerful can-do attitude. Before he died, he and mom traveled all over the world, they volunteered with the local symphony and the theater, and he made sure all his grandkids got everything they wanted for birthdays and Christmases, yet he saw to it that Mom was well provided for. He was generous, never one to skimp on anything, yet when he passed away my brothers and I were stunned at all he left behind.
So this Christmas, as I’m happily working my way through my holiday to-do list, I’m raising a glass (of orange juice) to the man who taught me to work my way through life with a smile. Miss you, Dad.