Thursday, December 1, 2011

Article #175 Optimism or Pessimism

Are some people just born pessimists while others are optimists? I don’t know, but I think we can all find ourselves on either side of the coin depending on our outlook and attitude toward our self and the world. Listen closely and to hear what your inner voices are saying to you. “Well, you’re certainly a big failure. You could have done better than that. No one else cares about you. You’ll never amounted to much,” etc. Negative voices can play quite a trip on our psyche and personality. Learning to filter out and not believe everything you hear inside is a talent that an optimist has. I believe we can all train ourselves to be more positive in our lives. (Photo of new mother, with my first son Frank, full of optimism about our future.)

To me journaling or writing is the key to understanding me better. Try writing some free association pages each day for a few minutes to get in touch with what is on your mind when you aren’t controlling it. Is what you hear negative? If so, own that, then put a stop to it by pushing the pause button. You can control your thoughts just as you can manage your behavior. Substituting two positive thoughts for every negative thought can help you make a switch from pessimism to optimism. It’s worth a try.

With pen or pencil in hand or typing on your computer capture your random thoughts as they rush through your mind. Here’s how. Right now, I hear: “Be careful what you are writing in this column because some people might take it the wrong way and then you’ll be in big trouble.” Okay, so I stop and examine that thought and substitute two positive thoughts. (1) Well I’m not a trained therapist but I can share educational insights I’ve gained from 50 years of teaching and writing, and (2) If I want to better understand myself it starts by first examining my thoughts.

Ready to try? The goal is better self understanding and gaining control of your negative thoughts by substituting two positive thoughts for them. This can be very helpful at holiday seasons when many of us seem to go into a slump or depression because of our holiday expectations. Try writing about that word. What are your EXPECTATIONS of the holidays and family? Are you perhaps demanding too much PERFECTION from yourself and others? That could easily make any optimist into a permanent pessimist.


  1. Journaling has always been my own self-therapy. I started when I was about 16 and it just helped me to get my feelings out on paper... reread... and process it all. I have some journals that seem to be more negative in tone, and others that are more positive... it's always been helpful to me and I miss it when I'm not doing it.

  2. Writing sure is a form of alchemy. Self-awareness is a powerful tool for shaping a life, too.

  3. Hmmm... This is a good reminder to us to slow down and just enjoy the season and not expect too much from it.

    I agree that blogging really makes you look into yourself and evaluate your life.

  4. There is a lot to our personalities that is in the genes..but we have the power to change things..I do write..I just don't post everything...