Optimist, pessimist, or realist? I consider myself a realist optimist. I see life exactly for what it is and I choose to put a positive spin on it, and I choose to hope for good. Billionaires, supermodels, and successful people of all kinds deal with depression, anxiety, and dissatisfaction with their lives. It’s not how much I have, how much I achieve, or even how good I look that determines my happiness. I determine my happiness. Every day. On purpose.
I’m not saying sometimes it’s not hard… the best things in life don’t tend to be easy. My latest happy revelation was based on how stressed and tired I’ve been over cooking ALL the time in these last several months, trying so hard to be healthy, eat whole ingredients, avoid wheat, etc… there isn’t much pre-prepared food that can meet those criteria. One day as I was seriously having the hardest time peeling myself off of the couch after a ridiculously long day, realizing that I had to go into my kitchen and make yet another meal completely from scratch with an achy back and achy feet and just not feeling it, wanting so bad to just order pizza or something and call it good, I was thinking, “I can’t believe I have to cook again.” And, finally getting annoyed with myself and my smelly attitude, (because I’m supposed to be HAPPY) I remembered one of my own favorite tricks for finding joy: change the “have to” to “get to”.
I thought, just for a moment, “I can’t believe I get to cook again,” and suddenly I was flooded with such a wave of gratitude and thankfulness. I thought of people around the world who would LOVE to guarantee that they could cook for their families even once a day. Here I am cooking every single day at least three times, sometimes six, depending on how many of us are home and who wants to eat when! I mean, DANG. That’s an insane privilege and honor. I’ve practically hit the food jackpot over here. I get to cook SO many times every day for my family, I’m almost embarrassed about it… I don’t want people thinking I’m showing off or bragging, but seriously. I get to cook ALL the time.
I loved a blog post I read a while ago: Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt. In it, I first came across the description of putting on one’s “perspectacles” as a new way of looking at things. I love that! With perspectacles in place, and my little “get to” vs. “have to” trick, I’m making huge forays into finding blessings in all kinds of little things that used to really bother me.
I’m obviously not talking about putting on perspectacles for things that are truly bad. Sometimes things just suck. They’d suck if you were living in a cardboard box. They’d suck if you were living in a mansion. There’s not a pair of perspectacles for any of that, I don’t think. My response is to let optimism rise up inside of me like the greatest rebellion. Cut me once, and I will heal the wounds of 10,000 other people. Just for that, let me graffiti my entire world in a display of love and generosity that will make the bad in my life cower and shrink away into the formless void from which it came. I’m violently optimistic, actually. And rebellious in my joy. Bad things happen, for sure. But I don’t have to let them permanently bring me down.
Even better, though, for me, to remember that when times are good, and nothing very bad is going on, to see all of my little annoyances as a blessing. Cooking, cleaning, issues with my car… all of it. Daily life becomes something quite splendid when painted with the right brush. I am a realist. But also an optimist.
I think pessimism would just be exhausting.