You might not know this about me, but I am your basic pessimist. In fact someone who knew me very well once told me I was the most negative person he’d ever met. Ouch. Unfortunately, even allowing that his outlook was pretty bleak at the time, he probably wasn’t far off. The fact is, I do tend to see the glass half empty. In fact, since the glass is half empty anyway, let’s just round it off to ‘empty’ and be done with it.
Your basic, doom-and-gloom Eeyorian pessimist, that’s me. (There’s a reason I gravitated towards a doomsday cult in the seventies, and that people are always giving me stuffed Eeyores.)
But, you know what? I’m turning over a new leaf. Not so far that you’ll hear me rhapsodizing over spilt milk or anything, but I’m going to have more gratitude attitude, not the usual, I-should have-known-it-would-turn-out-this-way- It-always-does, mind-set.
Always and never. The pessimist’s two favorite words. From now on they will come out of my mouth only when I’m talking about God. (As in, God never changes, and God always knows what we’re up to.) I’m going to stop looking at life through the always-never filter.
For example, I’ve been known to say, “Oh, Max, you’re always barking.” But is he, really? Of course not. Just because he rouses from a sound sleep to bark furiously at me when I get up from my chair to get a snack, is no reason to say the A-word. He’s no doubt thinking of my waistline, clever dog. Whatever. The fact is, it’s not true that he always barks. It just feels like it.
And therein lies the flaw of the always and never outlook. Always and never don’t exist.
The “it’s always like this and will never get better” mode of thinking is a lie. Nothing is the same forever. (Except God, see previous paragraph) You simply haven’t always been sad, it only feels like it. If you think back a day or two, you may remember you were on a mountaintop – not literally, but figuratively. The vista was fantastic; life was good, all was sunshine and lollipops. Something happened, you slid down the mountain, and now you’re in the valley. But the valley is temporary, or should be, unless you let your mind go into the always/ never track. That keeps you in the lowlands longer than usual, or longer than necessary. And the longer you stay, the more you tend towards believing you’ve always been here, and will never see that a hilltop again.
It’s not a weakness to be in the valley, you know. Valleys are part of life. How would we be able to appreciate being on top if we never knew the low places. Unfortunately, for us Eeyore types, we think we belong in the valleys; the heights are for other more–dare I say–valuable souls. If by some miracle we reach a mountaintop, we can’t enjoy it fully because we know the fall is coming; maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but come it will. And when, not if, it comes, it will be just what we
deserve would expect for such as us.
At any rate, to counteract my pessimistic outlook, I’ve decided my watchword for this year will be gratitude. When Max barks ferociously at the slightest sound, instead of complaining, I’ll be thankful I have an early warning system that is warm and furry, and likes to curl up with me on my lazy boy. When my lottery ticket comes up a loser, I’ll be grateful that I had enough money to waste on a ticket. (I don’t really, but there it is.)
Yessir, from now on, whenever possible, I’m going to turn the rainy days into sunshine and lollipops. What’s the harm in that?
Unless it’s freezing rain. Then all bets are off.