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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Great Lie of the Morbidly Optimistic

Several years ago, I was able to find a solution and embrace the concept of living every day without any negative feelings. Gone were those giant downer mood swings which would happen when things didn't go my way. Every day became a good day. Even the bad ones. Does that make sense? If I can convey this thought with a little precision- it should. 

In my past life, the one that occurred prior to 2007, I can only describe my life as depressed. Moody at the very best. I could not see the good in anything. I actually had a co-worker call me Chief Black Cloud. In as much as I was depressed- and my co-worker had given me an accurate description- I simply had no solution. None.

My solution, as it came about, was divinely inspired. It did not come via a therapist or a prescription bottle. It did not come because people pointed out flaws or teased me. To say that I am responsible for it is simply ridiculous. And while I was evolving out of that dark place...there were the antagonists.

Over the years I have met a small class of people which I refer to as the morbidly optimistic. That class of people who refuse to discuss anything so long as they deem it potentially threatening to their eternal optimism. Everything is measured and weighed according to their internal controls.

Here is the key. The morbidly optimistic believe that if they remain focused on positive things or outcomes- that only positive things will happen to them. They want the whole world to see them as happy people. Spreading joy and goodwill wherever they go. It is incredibly important to them that others recognize this. They worship the day and refuse to acknowledge the night.

The great lie of the morbidly optimistic is that if they simply ignore bad things- the bad things will go away. Only good things will happen to them. When those bad things come, they gloss over it. Pretend it doesn't bother them and tell others that they are are fine when they are not.  Part of that I think comes from a cultural or emotional dishonesty that we practice.

Honestly, I find the morbidly optimistic incredibly annoying. I agree with their goals- I simply disagree with their methodology which tends to involve labeling things as bad, denying the existence of bad things, or both. So if I want emotional calm and happiness in my life without coming off like some optimistic crusader in denial- how do I do that? 

Many years ago, I realized that my denial of the damaging or bad events in life- led to my emotional unpreparedness when adverse things happened. When bad things happen- the damage was made worse because I had not prepared for it nor did I have the means of managing it. The other problem, the real issue, was labeling things as bad to begin with. Why does everything have to be good or bad? Can't things just be?

So I embarked on a two part mission. I would never deny the bad things in life. I would realize and accept that things go bad. That illnesses occur. That people and pets die. That pipes clog and break and the neighbor's dog poops in my yard. That people are depressed and hurting. They have not found the way out yet. That is life. None of it is a mystery nor does my denial of it make it go away. I am prepared. I fix the pipes and pick up the poop. But the most important thing I have done- was that I quit labeling life as good or bad. Life just is. Every day is enjoyable not because I deny bad things- but because I embrace them. I am prepared for them. 

I am as perfectly comfortable talking about any of the "depressing" things in life as I am talking about all of the good and uplifting things. I see optimism and pessimism as valid perspectives. I attach no more credibility to one than the other. I don't label life that way- although I have to use traditional labels- to convey that point here. When we prepare for all outcomes- good or bad- we no longer see life the same way. We are embracing and practicing emotional honesty; optimism becomes a side effect of the way we view things.

I still have a few morbidly optimistic people in my life who seem to be more than happy to tell me how I should be living. Very often, I simply giggle at the nauseating promotion and positive spin they put on everything. I am ok with it and I find that the morbidly optimistic are not as annoying as they once were. My days are all enjoyable now- not because I label them good or bad- but because I see them in a different way. They are just days.



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