Thursday, May 7, 2009

Optimism


Michael J. Fox has a documentary on tonight, Adventures of an Incurable Optimist, at 10pm. I've been looking forward to it since he was interviewed a few weeks ago on Oprah. I was impressed by his upbeat, funny and spot on observations about life and his illness. No Pity Party Here.

I'm fascinated by the way different people approach life and react to setbacks. Some people just "get on with it" while others turn every bump on the road as a conspiracy to do them in. It's like life didn't turn out the way they planned, so they've given up on ever being happy. They're so mired in regret and missing what they don't have, they forget to celebrate and feel grateful for what they do have. As much as I hate to admit this about myself, sometimes I think I fall into that category. Gasp. It's only when I see it in other people though that I can recognize it in myself.

Happiness doesn't seem to be related to people's life circumstances. Some of the crankiest and meanest people have great lives while those who have faced tough times are funny and kind.

Jack Canfield talks about an "inverse paranoid." Rather than think the universe is out to get you, believe the world is conspiring to do you good. Expect great things from people and the universe and you'll get them.

But how do you retrain your brain to be more positive? Is it something you're born with, a genetic component? Or do we learn it?

Maybe I'll find out from Fox's documentary.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

2 comments:

Julia Smith said...

I'm such an optimist, I think I annoy other people, sometimes.

Anne MacFarlane said...

Julia, you seem to find joy in many ways. From singing, movies, art, ballet, gardens.

My youngest is like that. She has an appreciation for life and for the small things. Maybe it's a love for the arts that brings it out? She loves to sing. She's sixteen and she still gets excited by a brand new box of crayos - especially the large pack.