The Optimist and the Pessimist

“Attitude is Everything”


August 6, 2014

I am an optimist. My husband is a pessimist. If I say “wow, the sky is so blue”, he’ll say “I hate the sun, I like it cloudy.”

They say opposites attract but sometimes I don’t know how I have survived 36 years of marriage with a person who is a pessimist.

My husband and I just got back from a mini camping trip in our RV and truthfully, it really was frustrating. It rained constantly for almost the entire trip, so we were confined to stay in the RV. For me, it was cozy listening to the rain while reading a novel and watching movies. For him, he seemed to complain about everything and didn’t even want to play cards with me.

After being in this situation, I started writing a post about why the need to vent from time to time is essential to your health. This morning I was going to finish it when I came across this article about optimism and pessimism in the newspaper. I felt like it was written for me.

This article is so important, I once again decided to postpone my post-in-process and share this. Not only is optimism necessary to survive life, it is necessary to survive MS. Pessimistic people drag you down, something that is not good if you are trying to cope with a chronic illness.

Optimism trumps pessimism in workplace, life

President Harry S. Truman once said, “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities, and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

Which do you think will reach their goals, live a happy life and achieve their dreams?

Imagine interviewing two people who have identical skills, but one is always grumbling about how unfair life can be, while the other one talks about what wonderful possibilities exist.

Naturally, you would gravitate toward the optimist. If you choose the pessimist, you would be setting yourself up for plenty of aggravation and disappointment, not to mention the negative impact on your staff and customers. Pessimism can bring everyone down, not just the person with the negative attitude.

Pessimism is nothing more than self-sabotage. Expecting only the worst is not being realistic. Realists hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Pessimists can’t imagine the best, so they prepare for the worst. And then if the worst never happens? Pessimists often find the worst possible result simply to prove that their concerns were right.

The question becomes, would you rather be right than be happy? That’s not being realistic, either. That’s being self-defeating. Pessimism can rob you of your energy, sap you of your strength and drain you of your dreams.

Optimism is the remedy. Optimism doesn’t mean pre¬tending life is always wonderful. Optimism means embracing reality. You accept that there will be bad days, but also good days. When you’re grounded in reality, you know where you are and how far you need to go. Once you know how far your goal may be from where you are, optimism can give you the motivation to make plans to get to where you want to go.

Pessimists see life as one problem after another. Optimists see life as one opportunity after another.

How you look at life can drastically affect how much you enjoy your life. Optimists expect the best out of life.

Does it make sense that pessimists tend to blame others or circumstances for their failures?

Optimists help create some of the good they come to expect, so they are probably right more often than not — and they don’t waste time worrying about what they’re not right about. Optimism relaxes people. When we’re relaxed, there is better blood flow to the brain, which results in more energy and creativity in your life.

There is virtually nothing that you can’t do if you set your mind to it. You cannot control events in your life, but you can control how you react.

Do you want to be a pessimist and have no hope for a better future? Or would you rather be an optimist and believe you can achieve a better future?

Mackay’s Moral: Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush — it can color any situation.

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.” He can be reached through his website, harveymackay.com, or by e-mailing harvey@mackay.com.

In my situation, I learned years ago how to ignore or escape my husband’s negativity. While I succeeded most of the time, the times that I couldn’t get away from it caused tremendous stress. Not only did the stress impact my MS symptoms negatively, it would make me moody and stifle my motivation to move forward. Fortunately, I am a strong-willed person and almost always found alternative sources of optimism (e.g. friends, enjoyable interests/activities…) to lift me up before I got dragged into the depths of an abyss.

Now, in all fairness, my husband is a great guy and has many positive attributes. None of us is perfect. I am a sensitive person who cries easily or pouts. Personality traits are difficult to change; a person has to recognize a change needs to be made and then take great effort to make the changes. But this is a slow process that requires much patience.

If you don’t live with a pessimistic person, it’s easy to get away from him/her. An optimist living with a pessimist will be a lethal combination if coping mechanisms can’t be accomplished.

I know from experience. And I know that one of main reasons I have survived managing my MS is because I am an optimist. Attitude is everything.

www.DebbieMS.com
Author/MS Counselor/Living with MS

Stuck in a Negative Spell & Attitude

“Grieving”

July 16, 2013

Normally I am a very optimistic person.  Throughout my life, I dealt with many major, difficult events that required life adjustments.  Going through a grieving process—denial, anger, depression, bargaining–often accompanies the life adjustments.  Somehow I always managed to plow forward through the process rather quickly, restoring a positive attitude and looking for that silver lining.

People have often remarked what an inspiration I am and how well I do. But lately, not this time.  I have been stuck in one of those negative spells, with a negative attitude.  In April, I developed complications from a UTI, got a virus, and had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic all at the same time.  The perfect storm stirred up my MS to the point that left me completely incapacitated. I was admitted into the hospital.

Fortunately, after weeks of treatment and home care therapy, the infections and sickness went away and the MS calmed down.  Physically, I returned to my previous pre-relapse “normal” state.  But having the weeks of downtime and being incapacitated shook me to the core. My mental and emotional state didn’t rebound so easily. Every day I got out of bed and went through the motions of life, but with no smiles or enthusiasm. I was  existing without any happiness. My emotions were erratic and unpredictable.  Nothing was fun or funny.

I was grieving.

I was sick of being sick of being sick and tired of being tired.  Too many times over too many years of problem solving and adjusting.  My mind shut down; it was hard to think, which is what I always seem to do.  Think.

Everything in my life has to be planned and organized around my bathroom problems, medications, accessibility needs, physical limitations, fatigue, waiting for others to help me with something… And every thing I do takes so long to do.  Sometimes it’s just not worth the effort. Everything is a production.

This coming September, I have a trip planned to Alaska.  While “normal” people are looking forward to the cruise, food and excursions, I am dreading it all.  I worry about embarrassing myself with a bathroom accident.  Or, what will I do if I get a serious UTI, since I am resistant to oral antibiotics?  I have to plan to try and prevent these things from happening.  It is exasperating.

On the other side of the coin, so often I have to cancel my laborious plans because I don’t feel well, am too fatigued, maybe didn’t sleep well, require a laxative…  I have to plan, but other times I can’t plan something because of some physical or accessible limitation. It drives me crazy.  I can’t be spontaneous about anything.

Over the years, one reason I have kept a personal journal was to vent my sadness, stress or frustration.  Here are a couple of entries made during this bad spell:

“I wish I could just have 24 hours of being a normal person with no physical problems. To sleep through the night without waking up because of a cramp, a spasm, a pain, or to have to pee.  To not wake up tired after being in bed for eight hours. To sit down and pee without the hassle of using a catheter. To have a bowel movement without worrying about if I am going to go, or if I am going to get to the commode in time.  To eat whatever I want without bloating, gas… To have a day with no pain, or edema.  To be able to walk.  To have a day when I could everything myself without waiting or depending on someone to help me. To not have to worry about changing or cancelling plans because I am too tired.  To not drop things.  To be able to jump in the car and drive someplace alone. “

“Life is a journey as people often say.  But why is it that some people just seem to cruise through life?  Sometimes I feel like I’ve been travelling on some bumpy, dirt road never knowing when an obstacle will pop up.  It always does.  A flat tire.  A dead end.  A detour.  Overheated.  A breakdown.  Out of gas.  An unmarked fork in the road—which way to go?  Stuck in a rut.”

In the past, I always reached out somewhere, like counseling, to get me through my grieving.  Grieving isn’t a bad thing; it is a coping mechanism.  But grieving too long is not good.  It will crush your mind, body and spirit.  I wasn’t reaching out this time and I was getting crushed.

Two things happened over the past month that broke me out of this spell and helped me heal my spirit. The first thing was that a lost dog appeared in front on our house late one evening, barking incessantly.  This dog was a clone of my beloved companion Bear that died exactly a year earlier, both in looks and personality.  After a month of unsuccessfully locating the owner of this lovable one-year old pup, we adopted “Grizzly”, aka “Little Bear” as we named him.

Second, I came across an article about positivity that I saved from earlier this year.  It was also a catalyst that started me thinking healthy thoughts again.  I’m posting it today on my blog after I post this article so that it may inspire others as it inspired me.

Divine intervention?  I think so.  Faith, hope and love are so powerful.  They pulled me out of the deep, dark hole I fell into and got me over my grieving.  I’m moving forward again with a positive outlook and I’m smiling again on the inside and out. 

www.DebbieMS.com