There are two kinds of people in this world: optimists and pessimists. They sit on opposite sides of the table of life trying to convince one another who has the proper take on “reality”.
Though most people delineate between the two with the glass half-empty or half-full metaphor, I think it is far more complex than that. Rather, each side is fraught with some subtle differences. I live by the metaphor about the little girl who wanted a pony very badly and her fairy godmother came to her and gave her a bag of horse manure.
The girl gave a cry of delight and proceeded to rip open the bag and dig through the horse manure with both hands. Her fairy godmother was astonished and asked whatever was she doing.
The little girl replied, “I ‘m digging to find the pony!”
The optimist greets each day an urge to explore all that is possible in the day ahead. Though they do not necessarily spring forth humming show tunes, as the day unfolds, the power of the good of the world unfolds simultaneously. If it rains, the optimist looks for the rainbow.
The pessimist denies that they are one. But they prepare for rain by carrying an umbrella and expect to be splashed when the rain begins; most likely from the taxi that blows by ignoring their hails.
But in each case, pessimist or optimist, the origin of his or her outlook is not predetermined. I firmly believe that is an unconscious decision that can be remedied by being made consciously.
My name is Mary and I am a recovering pessimist. I have left the dark side. I have crossed over to the light. I hope my optimist’s membership card is in the mail.
I met an elderly man recently who has numerous medical issues. He is diabetic. As a result of this terrible illness, he has lost six of his fingers and both his legs below the knees.
But he gets up each day and a friend comes and helps him into the truck and they go out to the fields where he oversees his livestock. Though grateful for the assistance, I’m quite sure he’d find a way to do this no matter what. He is glad to be alive, quick to tell a joke, and thankful for “all the Lord has given me”.
I met a woman recently who drives a new car, has lovely clothes, and lives in a wonderful condominium. She has enough free time to golf and travel and is blessed with good health.
But she is alone. She is divorced, alienated from her children and spent Thanksgiving weekend alone. When you talk to her, she will tell you that none of this is her doing. Everyone else is at fault. She questions why life took this turn and sees nothing but loneliness ahead.
I wished that I could introduce these two people. Alas, it is highly unlikely, though one can hope. The optimistic elderly man could have, I believe, given this elegant unhappy woman an example of how the optimist can potentiate a change for the better. That life is a gift that you can mold to your needs with a seed change in perspective. That’s all it takes.
There are two kinds of people: optimists and pessimists. My cell phone ring tone is “Always Look On the Bright Side of Life”, from Monty Python. Sums it all up for me.