This might be a huge generalization, but there are three types of people I know:
1) The glass is half-empty;
2) The glass is half-full;
3) The glass is both half-empty AND half-full. (Read: copout.)
Guess which one I am?
I’m not sure when the rose-colored glasses came off. I’ve just never the target audience for Hallmark cards and feel-good quotes, because it feels trite and almost insensitive to tell someone who seems to be having a rough day that “the sun will come out tomorrow!” Maybe I’ve been in the depths of despair too many times, and have felt too often like there’s no way the sun’s gonna come out tomorrow, or the day after that, or one hundred days after that, because no matter what, life is going to be hard, there will always be struggles and hardships, and once I make it through this current hurdle, there’s another one just waiting to bite me in the butt and kill my will to live.
(I’m actually in a pretty good mental space right now, in case you’re wondering, which is why I’m able to articulate these musings instead of squelching them into the hole in which I’d like them to reside.)
No, I am not what you would call an optimist, not by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, take any given situation, good or bad, and I can guarantee you I’ll think of some negative outcome or possibility that no one would ever have thought of in a million years. On one hand, it’s difficult to enjoy life as a pessimist, because even when things are going smoothly, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Why? Because IT ALWAYS DOES. On the other hand, I feel like I’m a pretty realistic person, not really one prone to daydreaming and fantasizing about impossible scenarios and then getting disappointed when they don’t happen. I’m never going to win the lottery. Ever. And that’s okay.
The problem with living as an incurable pessimist is that it does take a bit of the joy out of the everyday simple pleasures that life has to offer. “Enjoy those roses today, because they’re going to be wilted and faded tomorrow.” “It’s a beautiful day today, sunny and warm, but winter’s coming to Western New York and soon we’re all gonna freeze for seven months, so prepare yourself.” “Kids are awesome–so vivacious, so full of life, so fresh and new and creative…and EXHAUSTING, so you’ll never have another moment’s peace as long as you live, because even when they’re grown up and have moved away, you’re still going to worry about them.”
It also makes any sort of spiritual growth extremely difficult to maintain, because as much as I may like the idea of being comforted by the warm fuzzies of religion, I can’t really buy into most of it. And let’s not talk about the damage it does to one’s creativity, whether that be in the form of visual art (I like drawing), musical prowess (beautiful performances require creative nuance), or writing. That’s sad.
So I’m consciously trying to see life from the perspective of the glass being half-full more often. My days are long, full, busy, and often mentally and physically draining, and it takes a serious amount of effort and thought re-framing to change my perspective. Some things I’d like to focus on this spring–actively seeking out joy, pleasure, and beauty–will hopefully be the catalysts for this important inner work.