Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Optimist and the Pessimist

'The Wheel of Fortune' represents not conditioning the world around us. 
24X36" acrylic on canvas

Pessimists drive me nuts. I get really irked when someone rolls their eyes and says, 'Typical.' Unsurprised by the disappointment of life and almost relishing in being right when things go wrong.

Optimists also drive me nuts. Chipper and cheerful almost to the point of denial, even when life gets tough. They can walk into bad situations and be bad judges of character because they so much want to believe the best about everyone.

I believe in finding a happy middle. Not the realist because realism is often just pessimism dressed up in another word.

I'm talking about dropping all those labels and just being.

Both pessimism and optimism are based on expectations formed about any given situation. It's easy to be disappointed when you expect to be and it's easy to turn a blind eye to something potentially harmful when you're not looking for it - or actively ignoring it.

When we embrace life as completely accidental - neither out to get us nor to make us happy - we can see that life is indifferent and any given situation is not necessarily 'bad' or 'good'. These are concepts we apply to them based on our opinions and experiences. By letting go of those expectations we can see our lives in an entirely fresh way. It's also a fun way to surprise yourself. When you practice letting go of expectations you can see where you might have become stuck or where you've been missing out on something truly incredible.

You'll also begin to notice little things you hadn't before. A greater sense of appreciation will come because your mind will open up when you look at the world around you without colouring it with your opinions.

My challenge to you (And it is a challenge to change the way you think) is to spend a day paying attention to your thoughts and notice when you determine if something is 'good' or 'bad'. Then try thinking about it in the opposite way. For example - you wake up and it's raining out.  If your first reaction is to think 'Oh no, it's raining' try thinking 'How lovely, it's raining!' and vice versa.

The rain itself is neither good nor bad. It's just rain, pure and simple - but our personal plans, opinions and tastes drive us to think about it in these terms. Try thinking about the rain just as it is. Water collected as condensation which forms clouds which make rain. Quite an incredible process really and part of the beauty of the world around us. Whatever you may think of rain for what it does to your plans or expectations, the actual existence of it is quite the thing to marvel over, or not, as the case may be.

All I'm asking is, what if rain wasn't a positive or negative occurrence? And if it's not, how does that change your feelings about a rainy day? Or a snowy day? Or a sunny day?

Give it a shot and if you care to, please share your experience below with a comment.

1 comment:

  1. I find the more and more I get to know you, the more and more my life's outlook seems to replicate yours, but made so very slowly. After reading all the "self help" books I have read, I find myself going through the motions of "yes, I understand and relate!" and I am reborn again. Even if I don't agree with all that I learn, I feel I get the core message. The power of now really helped solidify my resolve, if you could call it that, to be happy in the present moment. To be happy doing nothing. Just BEING. And most of the time I am content with this. I like answering "neutral" when people ask how I am. It's taken as "she's sad" but no, I'm not, I am simply content with the present moment.

    I also love thinking about everyday things and the adventure it took to get to where it is now. Paperclips. Yes, just a wee bit of metal that once used and bent gets thrown away. But the adventure from the mountains and lakes for the raw materials, to the factory, to the people using the machines to power the factory, to ship them to the retailer, to being delivered upon purchase, to right here in my hand. Invented and made by humans. How neat!

    Today, I was given a stern finger wagging by someone who asked me for help and then got angry when it was going to take too long. My first reaction was "oh no, I am a failure, and I made this woman's life harder because of my mistake" but even recognizing this pattern was helpful because I quickly moved through my other emotional stages of guilt, frustration, anger, and regret, etc. When I sat down to take a break from moving other peoples offices, I still felt flustered but I knew that it was because I was tired, and before the talk was feeling neutral and a little bored. So my mind HAD to come up with drama. Now that I had a few sips of water, read your ever entertaining blog entry, I feel just fine again. Nothing was resolved, yet nothing needs to be resolved. I was tired, dehydrated (apparently since now I am drinking tons of water)

    Basically what I am getting at is, I agree that either extreme is a little annoying to be around. I find personally my challenge is when i am in that state of neutrality, swaying back and forth between contentment or boredom. I can create any level of drama I want, either good or bad. Choice is up to me. But am I bored or is there actually something going on? Interesting...



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