One of my favourite things about my job is the slew of messages I get every week saying a particular column, or blog or part of my online group coaching programme Wellbeing Warriors has helped someone; changed their life or spoken to them so directly they felt "as if you had written is just for me". I think there is a indefinable magic to stumbling across the right message at the right time in a way that can shift perspective to make a bad day or a bad situation into a good day or a cope-able situation. I love being part of that random chain of events, and trust that the words or the tools online will reach whoever they are meant to reach at just the right time. I know some of my own biggest shifts have come in exactly that serendipitous way.
Of course, I fully get that I am not everyone's cup of tea and that's just fine too. If my opinion pleased all the people all the time I think it's safe to say I would be writing something so bland it was essentially saying nothing. I like to be liked, as we all do, but I get that it's not always possible. Being a certain flavour of tea is also part of the job.
Last week I received a comment that I must "inhabit such an infantile chirpy la la land... easily exploited and taken advantage of. On the other hand realists do not contrive happiness. We are ready for whatever comes and whenever it comes. We do not bother with irrational wishes or expectations. Realists are not easy prey for the exploiters and agencies which are around us all" which was so fascinating and a great opportunity to look at realism, optimism and pessimism.
You know, I think realism is us consistently getting exactly what we look for. If we look for people who are going to exploit us to rip us off at every turn, yes we will be ready, and yes, that's almost certainly what we are going to find. I call that brand of realism, pessimism. And "chirpy la la land" well I think that's approaching life with an air of optimism. That if we expect the best we will generally find it. Not always, but more often than not. That our reality will indeed be more optimistic if we expect it to be so. And as to who is more prepared to deal with the tough stuff when it arises? I personally prefer to come from a place of strength borne of positive expectation and optimism that some kind of good outcome can be achieved and I have the inner resolve and capability to achieve it, rather than pessimism that this was inevitable, everyone is out to get me and that I am an "easy prey" victim-in-waiting.
So full disclosure: I am an unapologetic optimist and I like to approach my life that way. I don't believe in pessimism masquerading as realism. Defining our reality though a lens of either optimism or pessimism is a choice we all get to make over and over again each day. How do we want to approach the world? That perspective colours every interaction and experience we have.
It is often said that an optimist lives with the glass half full, and the pessimist with the glass half empty. So true. The glass has exactly the same amount of liquid in it but what's important is how does that perception make us feel? It's simply a much nicer way to live to think we are in a place of half full abundance, than a place of half empty lack. Of course the bigger point here, is not whether the glass is half empty or half full at all. The point is, as the saying goes, is that the optimist knows that the glass is always, always refillable.