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Can We Be Too Optimistic?

Updated on February 13, 2013
There's two sides to everything. Photo by Jomphong
There's two sides to everything. Photo by Jomphong | Source

I have always been somewhat of a pessimist. When I was a child and in my early twenties, it was easier to be optimistic because life was exciting and free of too many worries. As time went by and life's harsh edge crept in, so did pessimism. I hate to admit this, but it has only been the last 10 years (and I'm in my late fifties) that I have started to recognize that I needed to become an optimist.

Because of so many changes in my life, I had to learn the tricks of survival. Not "stranded in the woods" type of survival, but emotional survival. I lost both of my parents and many others in that time and was alone for the first time in my life. Money problems, taking on an emotionally disturbed friend and anxiety issues were just some of the other changes. I was thrown into an emotional roller coaster.

I have always believed in the wisdom you can gain from books. I love reading and read an enormous amount on grief, dealing with anxiety, how to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you feel so lost...you get the idea. I found a lot of help in the wise words of others, but one thing that seemed to be in every word of wisdom was to see things in a positive way. So, I knew I had to change. I had to fully grasp this and make myself a more positive person.

I have worked extremely hard on this in the past few years and have improved a great deal. I now catch myself before I get upset and try to realize it is not that important. That for everything bad that happens, some morsel of good is there. It hasn't been easy and it took a long time to get there. I have been proud of myself for this "new me."

The other day, it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. It was a very bad day indeed, but I soldiered on, determined to not let it get me down. Then something strange happened. Toward the end of the day, when I was so tired I thought I'd die, my dripping bathtub faucet turned into a steady stream and it wouldn't shut off. I tinkered with it and finally gave up, realizing I would have to have my brother look at it in the afternoon the next day. I hate wasting water and I could also see my bill going up as I listened to it run. At that moment, I lost it. I screamed and yelled and cursed. I just couldn't put one more "it will work out" thought in my head.

But the strange thing that happened was that, in that moment, I realized I had forced myself to be so optimistic that I had added more stress to my life. I was absolutely sick of being positive. I was forcing something that wasn't natural. It felt great to let loose and unleash all my rage over the bad day I was having. In doing so, I actually felt calmer than I had for a long time. I knew it I had no choice but to wait until I could get it fixed and it was fine to be upset over it.

I now have a more middle of the road approach to optimism. I still try to see things in a positive light but I'm also allowing my true emotions to come out, without thinking they are going to ruin my life. That if I don't stay "up' all the time, it's ok. More than ok, it's normal. I could see the glass as half empty sometimes and it was actually healthier for me that way. We all need to let our emotions out and being afraid to see the bad side of a situation is keeping all the negative bottled up. I believe we can be too optimistic. Next time, let it out and go on...you'll feel better for it.



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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Thanks, Catgypsy. :)

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Hahaha...good idea Kenneth!

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, and suuurrrprise, Catgypsy!

      Your hub and above comment hits home with me. I know what you mean by being told it could be worse, so ask this friend to tell you "how" it could "get" worse if a person were to end up in hades? See what they say.

      This is just for fun.

      Love your hubs.

      Kenneth and Festus

    • catgypsy profile image
      Author

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Oh, Sally, you are so right! I actually have a friend like that and it drives me crazy. Anytime I talk about something unpleasant that happened, she reminds me that it could be worse. As I'm writing this, I just had a thought. Do you suppose people like this are just not sympathetic and that's their way of not having to show it? Hmmm...I'll have to think about that one!

      Thanks for stopping by and reading my hubs!

    • SallyTX profile image

      Sally Branche 4 years ago from Only In Texas!

      You know, you're right, and another thing that can be very annoying and counterproductive is people who just look on the bright side of everything no matter what. Sometimes things do go wrong and what you want is a friend who'll empathize, not one who'll try to convince you to look on the #@%! bright side! ;D

      Voted up and useful!

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Thank you girishpuri. God Bless to you too. Thanks for stopping in to read my hub.

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 4 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Very much thought provoking. interesting hub. God bless

    • catgypsy profile image
      Author

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Seeker7, thanks for reading and voting! I now try my best to be positive, but I also allow myself to be pessimistic or negative when I feel strongly about something. I also got to thinking that sometimes pessimism can be almost like a warning that something isn't right. Maybe I'm feeling negative about something because there's a good reason to.

      Always wonderful to have you stop by!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      What a great hub this is.

      I hadn't actually thought about optimism/pessimism in this way but what you have said makes a lot of sense. I think when we read the self-help books they are so focused on 'smile', 'being positive', 'every cloud has a silver' etc... But at the end of the day, there are times when it's absolutely pointless to go around with a big false smile on your face and to pretend that everything will be okay.

      And yes it's the 'pretend' bit that causes the problems as you have so wisely discovered! Keeping emotions buried does more harm than good and I'm now very happy to have at least sometime when I don't have to think 'positive' when I honestly don't feel like it!

      Awesome hub! Voted up + shared!

    • catgypsy profile image
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      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Thanks Kenneth! I still try to be optimistic, but I realize the difference now between looking for the silver lining and just pretending "everything's ok!" I have to say that I also get tired of people who can never just gripe about something and not put a positive spin on it...sometimes it's good to just vent!

      Honey says hi back!

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 4 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dearest Catgypsy . . .Wow! What a deep, thought-provoking hub. I loved it and it touched a nerve with me. Like you, when I was younger, I was given to pessimism, but what did that do for me? Na Da. Zilch. In my older years, and being that I cannot work anymore, pessimism and I have joined hands and we get along fine.

      Even in the most-dim surroundings, there IS some light of hope. I voted up and all the way on this hub, cat.

      Keep up the great work and Festus says hey to Honey.

      :) Kenneth

    • catgypsy profile image
      Author

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Thanks so much for stopping by to read this! I think most of what we do in life should be "in the middle" but sometimes it's hard to get there! Always a pleasure to get a comment from you!

    • Olde Cashmere profile image

      Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

      I really enjoyed reading this work catgypsy. The middle of the road approach is something that I've been working on myself. It feels much better to let loose some of the natural emotions that creep into our minds. Excellent topic and helpful. Voted up and rated useful, awesome, and interesting.