Can Optimism Lead to Depression?

“The man who is a pessimist before forty-eight knows too much; if he is an optimist after it he knows too little"...Mark Twain

What I love about this site (Hubpages) is that it inspires others in several ways so let me first give credit where it's due. This hub was inspired by another hubber- Introducing...drum roll please..."themanwithnopants" (Jim). Recently he wrote a hub about optimism and a positive mental attitude. Also, in the past he's written a piece or two on depression. We haven't quite come to an agreement on where we stand on this, but I will put one more thought out there because I've experienced it, seen it, and believe it to be true.

I believe optimism can lead to depression. My hub friend Jim is an optimist and of course this doesn't mean he has no down times- if he does, you'll be the first to know about it. He can get himself out of a hole and believes others can and should too. I will still maintain that optimism is a slippery slope. I think it can set people up for harder down times and a further distance to fall. I prefer to ride the wave of reality, not pessimism, perhaps pragmatism.

Denial Takes the Stage

I must add a little slice of "izettl" (me- Laura) reality here. When I come across an incurable optimist I just want to shake them silly and wake them up- have you seen the world around you? My 4 yr old has a better grip on reality than you!! No! Wait! Peter Pan knows more about the real world! Okay I got that out of my system.

I really do appreciate optimistic people, but take off your rose-colored glasses and sit with me for a while. When I see you being optimistic I know there's another layer underneath called denial. A positive mental attitude, even most of the time, can set someone up for failure and/or disappointment. OK now you have your mind made up I am pessimist disguised as a realist. Well, whatever, but people know me as someone who is the most even-tempered person you'll ever meet. I don't have a lot of ups and downs, I'm even as she goes. I'll explain more of this later...there's good reason behind all of this.

For now, let's talk about denial.It is impossible to solve most of life's issues without being realistic and laying down a plan. This process requires seeing the good AND bad in a situation in order for a plan to work. Denial is also the first stage of grief (DABDA: Denial, anger, bargainging, Depression, and acceptance). If you noticed, depression eventually comes after denial.

Someone who says they're always optimistic is lying or in denial. Harsh statement but the whole world places such shame on depression and those in a funk that we believe we have to carry around this false state of optimism in order for people to like us. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer, but people like people who are real and there should be no shame surrounding depressive disorders. We are not made to be happy all the time- that's not normal.

Not to say optimists don't hold a place in my heart. After all, I stated earlier I appreciate these people. They are reported to have better health...in some cases. Interestingly enough I did research on health and optimism. "The relationship between optimism and health has been studied with regards to physical symptoms, coping strategies and negative effect for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and fibromyalgia. It has been found that among individuals with these diseases, optimists are not more likely than pessimists to report pain alleviation due to coping strategies, despite differences in psychological well-being between the two groups."

Why are those findings interesting to me? I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and in plain black and white, it states it wouldn't matter if I have a positive attitude or not- optimism wouldn't help my symptoms or situation. The people who are optimistic and report bettter health are the ones who engage in healthy habits in the first place. In other words I have to come up with better coping strategies that optimist because that won't get me out of any funk surrounding my arthritis.

Experience with depression

I know depression all to well. It is referred to as the "every man's disease" because every man/woman has some experience with it. I've had people close to me suffer from long periods and brief periods of depression. In fact recently I had a brief spell when I couldn't find one positive cell in my body.

Everything that formerly brought me out of the funk, I could not do for some reason or another. Mostly because I am pregnant and one step above bed rest so exercise is out- that used to cheer me up. Having a glass of wine to relax...out. Taking a nice hot bath...out. Pigging out on a special yummy meal...out. Writing...well not totally out but let me tell you how uncomfortable it is sitting at a desk with a big belly.

All my tools for getting myself out of a hole are gone due to a difficult pregnancy and the restrictions. I will not be pregnant forever but this experience made me realize that our state of mind can be influenced by greater things beyond our control; hormones, health, money, abilities, chemical imbalances. In true depression, someone can not will themselves out of it.

My husband also has experience with depression and this is where my friend (themantwithnopants) and I differ. He has a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality, but not everyone was built like this. I know this from being around my husband who has suffered from Post traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder for many years. Optimism isn't the right prescription for him. I used to think people could get themselves out of a funk until all the experiences I've had in life told me otherwise. If optimism worked we could convince depressed people to be happy- try it and you'll fail miserably.

Optimism is a false state of mind. Someone with a depressive disorder or bi-polar disorder will experience an optimism high before the really low and bad occur. I've seen it in nearly all people I know who've suffered from depression. My husband for instance would get optimistic and really happy, then I knew the down time was going to come shortly after. Optimism in my world at that time was the calm before the storm, or like a roller coaster. It is short-lived. The goal with most depression medications is to get people to an even state of mind.

Optimism can only occur when the person has a perceived sense of control or compentency over their situation. If you think all circumstances in your life will be under your control, you're sadly mistaken. It is one thing to go through something traumatic or devastating that lasts a short time, but the people who are susceptible to depression are those who go through something chronic- prison sentence, war, post baby blues, chronic health issue. In these circumstances, optimism gets tiring because the body and mind have already become exhausted. Not saying one must give up, but rather hope and making a realistic plan, sometimes even medication, prayer and therapy are necessary.

Perhaps you heard of the debate and animosity between Tom Cruise and Brooke Sheilds regarding her experience with Post Partum Depression (baby blues). She reported in her book that medication was absolutely necessary for her. Tom Cruise spoke out publicly that she did not need medication- anyone can will themselves to have a positive attitude. First of all, what does he know about baby blues and second of all, he has been observed as a little strange. Folks, that's what optimism gone wrong looks like.

When Optimism Dies

Ask anyone who has been unemployed for a lengthy amount of time with their world crumbling around them- that's nearly 10% of most state's population. These people have run out of optimism, run out of plans, but can cling to hope. I'll take hope over optimism any day.

What will people do if they don't have a positive attitude or a reliable optimistic outlook? Hope is more reliable than optimism. Hope exists independently from us, even when people are completely out of optimism and can't rely on themselves to pull out of a low. Some people find hope in God, hope in the knowledge that the universe is always changing- with bad comes good and there is an eventual end to suffering.

If you look up information on hope, you will find it is "distinct from positive thinking, which refers to a therapeutic or systematic process used in psychology for reversing pessimism. The term "false hope" refers to a hope based entirely around a fantasy or false optimism, sometimes an extremely unlikely outcome."


"Hope springs eternal" ...Alexander Pope's Essay on Man

Half empty or half full? Perhaps the glass is just too big!
Half empty or half full? Perhaps the glass is just too big!

Get off the Optimism Roller Coaster and find your Zen in reality

I mentioned earlier that optimism is a false state of mind and I say this because it implies "good" and "bad". When people get stuck on the constant labeling of good and bad in life they get stuck on a roller coaster. Optimism also implies we want to get back to a "good", favorable state, but good is always threatened by bad- why even try to reach for the illusory good? Not trying to constantly be happy or have all good in life releases us from the bonds of those labels. This notion is uniquely translated below in a story:

Excerpt from the book, "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle.

The deeper interconnectedness of all things and events implies that the mental labels of “good” and bad” are ultimately illusory. They always imply a limited perspective and so are true only relatively and temporarily. This is illustrated in the story of a wise man who won an expensive car in a lottery.His family and friends were very happy for him and came to celebrate. “Isn't it great!” they said. “You are so lucky.” The man smiled and said “Maybe.”For a few weeks he enjoyed driving the car. Then one day a drunken driver crashed into his new car at an intersection and he ended up in the hospital,with multiple injuries. His family and friends came to see him and said,“That was really unfortunate. “ Again the man smiled and said, “Maybe.”While he was still in the hospital, one night there was a landslide and his house fell into the sea. Again his friends came the next day and said,“Weren't you lucky to have been here in hospital.” Again he said, “Maybe.”

Honestly I believe the importance (and stress) of happiness, a positive attitude, optimism, in our society is detrimental to our well-being. People who report knowing a suicide victim will say they never saw it coming- for reason that we're all expected to put on a happy face or be able to will ourselves into optimism. Sometimes it's OK to just be.


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Comments 39 comments

TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 4 years ago from Tucson, Az.

Laura,

Let me begin by saying I'm feeling pretty darn positive about being mentioned here by someone I feel is in small group of people qualified to talk about this. My positive attitude is the only tool I have for survival. I'll go further and say that I suspect it of being manufactured.

Let's look at this positive attitude of mine. Do I have it always? No. Only when I need it, because you're right. Walking around with rose colored glasses can make me subject to getting knocked right square on my emotional ass. I don't handle disappointment well at all to be honest, and I DO get knocked down. First I feel sad, I feel unsure. Then I get scared. Real scared. The next feeling I have is realizing that I HAVE to get control of the situation. No choice. Then Laura, that crazy feeling hits me. The thought process goes something like this .. Lets use this recent example; I retired at 55 accomplishing a long time goal. Then a while back at the age of 57, I discovered I was broke and had to start all over from scratch. First the "Poor me, look at my childhood. I've had to claw to make it all my life. Never get a break like so many people do" you know the old boo hoo crap. The next thing that happens is pure magic, and it feels better than sex. I begin thinking .. "You are one good looking sonofabitch Mr. Brown. You've got a mind like a steel trap and a body to match it. When you got nothing, ya got nothing to lose, and there's only one possible direction to move." Then Laura, I break out those old ghosts in my head and start competing against them. I'll say it again. the feeling I get from a challenge is better than sex. Now that I think about it, I'm not happy unless I'm looking down the barrel of a gun. Not sure that makes me positive. I think it makes me a nut.

All this could have been summed up this way. Great hub. You're right on point with this, and as you can see I changed my assessment of myself somewhat. I'm proud you're my friend. I'm really sorry this pregnancy going so hard. I'll send up a special prayer tonight! You're the best sis. Absolutely the very best!

jim


Jeanine 4 years ago

very nice read... and I agree... Hope is better for me... Hi Mike... you positive good looking hunk of man...lol...lol... hope you are feeling well Izetti it want be long...please take care of the pregnant lady...


nifwlseirff profile image

nifwlseirff 4 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

Great hub, interesting and deep. I've struggled with depression, and been labelled a pessimist more often than an optimist. I believe I'm more of a realist, but with occasional tendencies to pessimism when I'm under a lot of pressure to perform, or fear I am not good enough to achieve something I really want.


TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 4 years ago from Tucson, Az.

Also Laura,

Sometimes I take the positive approach with people when my heart is actually breaking over what ever it is they're going through. It seems everyone else is doing the job of consoling them and massaging their pity. It's important to have people around to give it. I think it's called support, but the way I see it, they don't need another person to say "Poor baby, I understand." Even though I'm feeling sorry for them too, I'm the guy who walks in and says, "What's wrong? Are you kidding? This is the greatest thing that ever happened to you! Now you can" ... I'm not even sure I really believe it. It may be a conditioned response.

Also .. This positive thing isn't necessary for everyone as I pointed out in that hub. I've known some very negative people who accomplish great things, especially in the arts. Some people are sneaky also. They talk negative, but have a positive atitude. My grandpa (Pop) who used to look at a task and say .."That looks bad. Doubt I can fix it," knowing damn well he'll make it like new. This group is cool. :-/

Finally, I realize that a lot of people can't grab the old boot straps and pull themselves up. Some of them need a kick in the ass, and some of them a kick in the ass would send them off the cliff. I pray that I always have the good sense to know the difference.

Sorry for the extensive comments, but it's entirely your fault. You have a knack for making me re-examine my crazy brain and it's contents, of course I try to do the same for you. Besides you never call anymore, so you get it here! (laughing)

jim


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Jim~ I completely agree with you about a challenge...when you can label it as one task or one goal and it seems within your power or reach. Beyond that I think hope is pretty natural or helpful for most people to default to- like praying when you don't know know what else to do.

The feeling you get from a challenge is like sex- I totally agree. I love a good challenge, but only when i know it's within my power..a little bit of control freak I suppose...lol. We all pull for the underdog in movies so we all benefit from a little stress or challenges, but like i said before so much is out of our control and so much of the "bad" we try to get away from may acutually lead to good. I've had some pretty great things happen to me because of having my arthritis- for one, I started writing again, i stay home with my daughter and make my own hours. I have a support group like you and "Jeanine" has been great.

What you say about how you use your positivity is really familiar with my husband except he loses the optimism super quick- It's kind of opposite of you in that he gets optimistic first when faced with the challenge then the 'poor me' sets in and renders him subject to the downside- he also disappoints easily and I think perhaps optimism can be used as a defense mechanism of sort when you explain how you use it. I walk into a new situation, like moving in our new house, and evaluate all the good and bad and details of costs of items and repairs, etc. whereas my husband walks in and says "that'll be easy. that won't cost much..." and I cringe- is that bad? But I do- I don't think he's seeing straight.

I know how you use optimism and a positive attitude in your life- we've talked about it so much. And I think you are doing right by yourself for sure- I think what you do works. I think what I do works too. You've said before that you can't stand a person who brings others down- I've never known that of myself and always do well socially but I totally consider myself a realist and if I have to be a pessimist, I put a humorous twist on it- must have a sense of humor!It's funny you mention your grandpa with negative words but positive inside- I am somewhat like that actually- you described me when I look at a challenge and then it's like a high when you fix something or overcome because you announced it may not be possible...lol.

I appreciate your comments and will think more on them today. I'm just rambling so I'll stop for now.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Jeanine~ thanks for stopping by. I'll email you later. Glad you enjoyed the read.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

nifwlseirff~ it's interesting you mention that about depression but you lean toward pessimism- I believe that too far either side of the spectrum, pessimism and optimism can both bring a person down as an end result in some cases. Optimists can be let down pretty hard and pessimists expect the bad and that leads to a bad outlook in general. Being pragmatic or real, not too swayed by the highs or lows is the best place to reside...in my opinion. Reading Jim's comments here, I also think people need to find what works for them. I like my cynical sense of humor and often I've had to just laugh at a myriad of problems coming at me at once. Once I can find the humor in things, I do OK. I hope you've found what works for you too.


TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 4 years ago from Tucson, Az.

Laura,

What you do DOES work. It's a rough world and we have to put together our survival kits. My relationship with the Lord has allowed me to get rid of some of my survival tools thank goodness. Hopefully I'll continue to be a better man. I've always said that If I was half the man my mom raised, I'd be twice the man I am. (laughing)

As for you, you're doing fine. I admire you for your ability to roll with the punches yet not lay down. Now young lady .. (frownie face) You've been missing some of my hubs. Just kidding. You get a pass with all the prego and moving thing. I prayed for you last night and I'm getting ready to start my prayers for tonight. You'll be in em!

jim

jim

jim


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 4 years ago from Sweden

I was so glad to find this article since I am getting very tired of all the positive people with stiff smiles around me! Their mouth is smiling but not their eyes. I am all for positive thinking but for some reason positive thinking has become synonymous with happiness and that can´t be right! I agree wit you that it is impossible to be happy all the time, but many people seem to strive to continually achieve the wonderful feeling of happiness.

I think we must use all our different emotions and let our selves feel angry, sad and unhappy. It is then the magic happens, when we turn towards our inner selves and take time to analyze this peculiar and difficult world. After a day or two in a bad mood I feel much better and can be positive again. I believe that optimism can lead to depression because it is an impossible long term state of mind. It is unnatural. At least in the way it is practiced by many. If our mind constantly repeat that we should think positive and happy and we don't feel like that inside we will instead walk around with a feeling that there is something wrong with us. We will also ignore all the early warning signs that tell us that we are on the wrong track or that we need to take things a bit more slowly. Positive thinking to me isn't about ignoring problems and feelings. And I don't think positive thinking will make me successful or healthy either. It is more a way to see the possibilities instead of obstacles when I have analyzed the problem. I believe in solving my problems first and use positive thinking later.

Here in Sweden the fatigue symtoms are increasing and more and more suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. I think some of the causes for that is because we live and behave unatural and don´t behave as humans using all our emotions and moods. I would like to highlight a Swedish word that doesn´t exist in English, the word "Lagom"! It means; not too much and not to little. It is a very boring word really because everyone and everything wants to stand out and be seen. But in the case of positive thinking I think it is just right!

Thank you for writing about this increasing behaviour and problem, and you did a great job as always!

I enjoyed reading,

Tina


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Hi Izettl; Very interesting topic. I can relate to having a cautiously pessimistic mind. I never could relate to anyone who is constantly optimistic. I know that some people lead charmed lives and tend to be more confident about outcomes because they are used to coming out on top but that doesn't change the fact that life is replete with obstacles, and being Pollyanna seems counter-intuitive and anti-Darwinian. I've always followed the "hope for the best but prepare for the worst" philosophy.

The key is not to ignore the bad things in life, but to accept them and then rise to the challenge of overcoming them. Ignoring a problem or just taking a "It'll all work out" attitude, teaches us nothing. It's like ignoring a sickness and saying "I'm fine' unti it kills you.

In Buddhism, they talk about "turning poison into medicine", meaning that we should acknowledge the obstacle but make it into a mountain to climb. "What doesn't kill me makes me stronger".

There's nothing wrong with being pessimistic, because it's a survival skill. The key is not to be a defeatist. There's a big difference between a pessimist and a defeatist.

Rob


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Dear Izettl, I've had a year and a half unemployed now, which has given me more time than I wanted to explore this idea about optimism and its opposite. I went through life smiling, despite what was happening in my life, and quite honestly, mostly numb. I was raised to "smile". Everywhere I've gone, someone has remarked about my "beautiful smile." I was continually amazed, because I didn't know I was smiling. There were certainly times I didn't feel like smiling. At the workplace, where I put in time for 13-years, one of my bosses always commented about how I smiled...no matter what. I stayed in two marriages far beyond their death...because I sublimated and kept smiling. One day I took my mom to the grocery store and pharmacy and she commented she has never seen anyone approached by so many people as me. I've always felt so "grateful" for any positive attention and so willing to keep smiling for it. I think part of my extreme reaction to being laid off...my disbelief, is the fact I cannot deny it. It is the ugly fact. Now, everything makes me cry. The news, commercials, someone's sad story...everything feels sad. I still smile...I think. Denial is a killer. It kills energy, truth, faith, hope and love. It is exhausting and confusing because, ultimately, it is difficult to decipher what is real. Fantastic article, Izettl, on something that many have had to come to grips with in the downturn. Foreclosures, joblessness, lack of health insurance, bills that cannot be paid, fear of the future are hard to deny when they keep you up at night. And, depression is a deep, dark hole to climb out of.


Jeanine 4 years ago

I do believe in certain circumstance a positive attitude is the best for the situation... my partner had breast cancer twenty years ago and the doctors told us then that they could probably get the cancer but her attitude would determine how she did for the rest of her healing... one radiologist said he had two women who had the same cancer , same body type, same meds, one died and one lived... when he went back and looked at the two cases he realized the only difference that he could see in the two women were their attitudes... one woman was from a rural area and was thankful to get any help, she lived... the other was a rich woman who complained the entire time... she died... he was the chief Radiologist in the country at that time and had led the program at Peen State the longest running study of cancer in the world except for a study in Paris... he was obviously looking for what caused the two similar cases to have such drastically different results... I to have been able to move some psychosis of my own to a different place simply because my parents and lover helped me see it in a different light...

I do see if one was not truthful with oneself it could lead to depression, but have had great things happen as a result of having a positive attitude about some things that appeared to be hopeless... great read... I love reading the comments...


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Izettl, thumbs up for this excellent hub about optimism. I envy you your even-tempered personality.

I am one of those true optimists, always positive but also pragmatic and realistic until.... disappointment makes me sink into depression.

Somebody said a pessimist is a well-informed optimist.

I love challenges. Making things work in reality is my forte. And, of course, when I fail, disappointment follows and thereafter depression.

This is who I am. I’ve got to live with this. When somebody suggests that I should be a pessimist in order to be happy, I’ve got to accept the fact that I will forever be unhappy. But no, I will not accept such a fate. My optimistic self – positive thinker – will immediately regard happiness as a challenge to meet.

I regard my spells of depression as normal, as I regard my fatigue at the end of a long day as normal.

I love your reasoning, and I must repeat, I envy you your flexible nature.

Did I read you are pregnant? What great news! Congratulations. When will the baby be here?


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Jim~ I've been missing your hubs? I don't think you email me them anymore.No excuse though. I'll have to go and check it out. I was so busy this weekend moving stuff slowly but surely, packing mostly. My goal is to give you a call by the New Year- make it my New year's resolution!!lol. And thank you for the prayers.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Tina~ I always wonder how many people put on that fake smiley face and how much of their optimism is REAL! I totally agree with you about utilizing all our emotions. My daughter is only 4 but I've learned a lot from her- she can be happy, sad, angry, excited all in a few hour time frame, but it's all in balance.

I've heard the Swedish are supposedly some of the happiest people on earth. I always wondered what that meant. DO they just have perfect lives somehow or they have a false mentality and don't show emotion? Fatigue would certainly be an issue when you are trying to maintain happiness all the time. I think people who can express themselves and emotions constructively have the advantage. I just found out a good friend of mine is getting divorced and I didn't even know they were having problems- geesh. Too much pretending here in the U.S too. Thanks for all your good insight! Especially great point about being positive and inadvertantly ignoring issues that just get bigger or effect your health.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Rob~ One of the things that drew me into Buddhist teachings and principles was the fact that suffering should not be ignored, but like you are saying, it should be faced/acknowledged and made into an obstacle to overcome. Suffering should not be avoided, but faced to deal with. When I first got Rheumatoid Arthritis I wanted to know the best case scenario all the way to the worst case scenario so I knew exactly what I was dealing with. Great point about being a defeatest versus pessimist. THanks!


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Amy~ some great insight in your comment. You were totally rewarded for smiling all your life. But sometimes it didn't match you on the inside so that in itself can do a lot of damage. I was just taking note that the people who commented on this article are some of the most insightful people I know on hubpages, you included.

A lot of people, during this economic crisis, are finding out for the first time that optimism or "putting on a smile" isn't going to get them anywhere. People who have had an "easy' life up to this point but now have been effected by the economic situation, are a whole new breed of people dealing with things beyond their control.

Also I believe women are brought up to be nice, positive, and smiling all the time. I try to watch that when raising my daughter. I've come to see how it's expected of little girls but not little boys. I once saw a show about rape and abuse victims who were women and they were raised to be nice to people so when these perpetrators came into their life they were nice and helpful, and that's what got them in trouble. Just thought that was interesting since you mentioned about growing up being complimented and rewarded in ways for your smiling- it probably got you a lot of good things too though.

Jim and I were talking one time and he says he can get low and gives himself time to sulk or be down, but then after that he can get back up easier. I think it's important to let yourself, give yourself permission to cry or whatever and then it's easier to pick yourself back up. With the unemployment I know how that is- I was about 1 1/2 years unemployed when I got Rheumatoid Arthritis, and interestingly enough that changed my path, but in some ways for the better. At that time unemployment was my enemy then the arthritis became my new challenge and got my mind off unemployment and on a different path.


TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 4 years ago from Tucson, Az.

Is positive thinking always positive thinking? Let me throw something out there. The House of Congress is made up of 535 (Senate and House) men and women elected by the people to shape the course of this nation. That body has a 9% approval rating of the people who put them in office, yet the same people will go to the voting booths and re vote these people in, or replace them with someone else who they'll soon distrust. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is described as insanity, but that's not the case here. It's loss of hope. Now follow me.

This nation and it's people are heading off a cliff, and the American will is not rising to the occasion. Now along comes me. I proudly say I have a plan that will turn this nation around and started The Housefire Project. Just getting this thing off the launching pad has been the largest challenge I've ever taken on, yet I charge harder with every set back. Does that make me positive? No, it makes me a mother bear protecting her cubs. My cubs are myself, my children and grandchildren .. the people I love so dearly, and a nation that this world could not continue without. See, I don't know if I'm positive, or really just like you, just doing what that thing inside me directs me to do. I call it God. Others may call it something else, but what ever it is, it's not me. I'm sacared to death, however that other thing isn't.

This probably just throws mud in the water, but I'm not going to write a hub on this. This is yours. I just have to get these thoughts out of my head so I can focus on what's in front of me. (laughing)

jim


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 4 years ago

I agree with you that optimism is all too often manufactured, and our society hates to see a down person, and sends strong signals to change this behavior. Doesn't change reality - just behavior.

I've had multiple crummy things happen - mentally ill parent, absent parent, generally wacko Family of Origin, debilitating health condition. Personally, I've just come to think it's best to remember that things don't last forever - when you're up, it won't last forever, and likewise when you're down it won't last forever.

As a Christian, I also think that there are only two things we get to keep going into the next world: 1) the life we have built interacting with Jesus - not just beleiving in Him, but integrating him into out lives and 2) the character we developed going through life. Maybe we also get to continue relationships (the positive facets) with others in the next life, so that makes 3. I think about building a next life for myself (I sound like an Egyptian planning my afterlife) - storing up those internal valuables. It feels different from that perky, overly caffinated optimism that I agree can be downright annoying.


TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 4 years ago from Tucson, Az.

grace,

Extremely well said!

jim


IJR112 profile image

IJR112 4 years ago

Good hub. I think it's best to be a "realist." I don't see the glass as half-full or half-empty. It really depends for me. I've noticed that some of my overly optimistic friends are actually kind of depressed, so I think I agree with you.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

You hit on some pertinent facts, izettl. I grew up a "Pollyanna", mainly to make sure everyone around me was comfortable with my attitude. I was told it is selfish to be self-absorbed, which meant depression was a self-inflicted choice. Probably true for my situational causes, but today, when chronically debilitating, it is viewed by science as a mental illness. I always looked around me and saw situations far worse around me and got back on track. Eventually, though, we live in our own lives, and day to day can start to feel overwhelming, like a tidal wave that sucks the life out of those in its path. Depression is real and not just a pity party for those who have been "treading water", just keeping their heads bobbing back to the surface, for a long time. There comes a time when reality settles in and as we age, strength, resilience and hope diminish. Although, the tsunami has dampened my fire, all it takes is one hopeful moment to reignite the flames. Whatever name we call it, I believe it is an innate, genetic drive for survival that lives inside the human spirit.


TheManWithNoPants profile image

TheManWithNoPants 4 years ago from Tucson, Az.

Hey! Sis, when the "baby with no pants" (here after known as "bwnp") arrives, perhaps "Jim" would be a good name! Wait a minute. I forgot. It's a girl isn't it? If that's the case, maybe it's, ummm .. Jymique'? Yeah!

jim


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

It's a boy Jim. No name yet! "bwnp" can be boy with no pants or baby with no pants- multipurpose name. lol.


jeanine 4 years ago

I thought his name was harmon...lol...lol... Amy ... hope is a wonderful thing...always waiting for that spark and then we ignite... speaking of hope... Merry Christmas to each of you...


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

IJR112! Thank you for taking the time to comment. It's something I've noticed too so I had to do some thinking about it and have to that conclusion. It's usually the optimistic ones that hit bottom faster or harder. Yes, realist is good.

Grace~ I have to agree with themanwithnopants..."well said". I have that same mentality of knowing when things are down they must come up and when things are up they are no indefinite either. That's life. As a christian I believe in thinking of the after life as well- there's a whole other existence waiting. THanks so much for your comment.

Jeanine~ I understand what you're saying. I've heard in cancer patients a fighting attitude is best. i would never say be a pessimist or even an optimist about having cancer but be a realist and a fighter- know what you're up against is always important in health situations and not laying down to die is the right attitude. Recently my aunt's best friend had ovarian cancer and her meds actually made her depressed and act different. It was hard for her to have a positive attitude- her chances weren't great, but now 1 yr later with her unrelenting fighter- not exactly positive- attitude, she is recovering well and has great chances. Thanks for the comment!


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Martie~ I know you're type :)) I do love to be around optimistic people, but for me as a realist maybe borderline pessimist I wonder what they're not telling me. I wonder are they telling my good things when it's bad, etc. I do like to be around them, but I also think how hard it is on them to be the reliant happy person.Nothing wrong with challenges- good for us!

Yes, I'm pregnant- almost 8 months now. Due Feb.1. My daughter will get a little brother. Oddly enough this is my first time I've been on a mood rollercoaster. I've always been even tempered and mellow yellow. But now I see the other side of the spectrum being happy, sad, and mad all in one day. Darn hormones,but gave me a different perspective to analyze. Thanks for stopping by.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

El seductor~ you made me think. I guess if we reacted to all the sadness and suffering in the world we'd all be 100% depressed all the time. So most of us must have a decent attitude to some degree. We certainyl are bombarded with more sad than happy. I wish the news and media would get a little more optimistic.lol.

Very important insight about choosing our attitude.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Jeanine, Merry Christmas to you, too, and everyone here!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

Izettl - I know your type... lol! Not eager to follow, don't get excited, but still reliable and willing to do what they undertake to do. During a crisis they are pillars of strength, able to solve the problem ever so calmly, but afterwards they will be a bit upset... because they've foreseen the crisis.

Congratulations again. I am so excited for you. The mood swings are natural, but of course exhausting. Take good care of yourself and listen to your doctor :))


Jeanine 4 years ago

Hi Izettl... I love this line..."Oddly enough this is my first time I've been on a mood rollercoaster. I've always been even tempered and mellow yellow. But now I see the other side of the spectrum being happy, sad, and mad all in one day. Darn hormones,but gave me a different perspective to analyze"... now you know how your dad and I feel...and have felt that way almost everyday of our lives... and I'm very optimistic that can lead to depression...lol...lol...


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Jeanine~ hit the nail on the head. Awesome point about knowing what my dad and you feel like- thanks for giving me yet another perspective.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Martie~ great points. yes, I am the pillar of strength in a crisis- I'm usually the one people call in a crisis. Since i have this even temper, it is hard for me personally to even recognize when I am feeling otherwise. I used to not even know when i was stressed, mad, happy, sad because i just knew my autopilot mode and that was straight and even. I have come to recognize when and what I feel- in a way the pregnancy hormonal thing is a blessing. I can freely express those ups and downs and not feel guilty or haivng it "all together". Also when I got my arthritis I read it was about bottling up and not expressing oneself. I never thought I was but I operated on even temper for so long, I didn't know how to express myself up or down. I'm learning- lol.

I know your type too and in many ways admire you. I've read so many of your hubs and just love your ability to express yourself.


izettl profile image

izettl 4 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

I've read your comments Amy and Jim- I'll get back to this in a few days cause I've got to pack, move, and will be back online in a few days...Wednesday I think.


pmorries profile image

pmorries 3 years ago from Golden, CO

It looks like I am late to the party, but I enjoyed this Hub so much that I felt compelled to comment. One of my favorite books is titled Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. The book investigates the link between positive thinking and health and comes to the same conclusions that you do (little or no correalation).

Furthermore it contends that positive thinking may have led to the financial crisis in this country (things are great and only are going to get better).

But my favorite part of the book quotes the Author of The Secret saying, "That things like tsunamis can happen only to people who are 'on the same frequency as the event’." I hope there is a special place in he...anyways...positive thinking can be just as harmful as, "Stinking Thinking", and both are tools that can make one's life better or worse depending on how they are used.


izettl profile image

izettl 3 years ago from The Great Northwest Author

Thanks for stopping by pmorries. Yes, I agree with the financial crisis aspect- never saving or expecting a recession caught many Americans off guard. Negative thinking is just as useless as positive- it's best to be real, be in the moment of whatever is going on. Pray to God but row for the shore!


Julie K Henderson profile image

Julie K Henderson 19 months ago

This is a thoughtful, important article. Well done. I appreciate you emphasizing the power of hope instead of optimism. Also, I've noticed that a few optimists I know are in denial despite having a "sunny" outlook. Finally, the story at the end of this hub is fantastic. I've found the more I can refrain from label experiences "good" or "bad," the better off I am. Voted up.


izettl profile image

izettl 19 months ago from The Great Northwest Author

Thanks Julie,

There is a difference in types of optimism (healthy and unhealthy) and also the fact that there is too much emphasis on it as an expectation and sole goal in one's life. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment.


Julie K Henderson profile image

Julie K Henderson 19 months ago

You are welcome.

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