Everything is always fine and dandy in life, peaceful, smooth, fun, and easy….until I start to struggle with what I’m always struggling with. Feeling let down because I have this uncontrollable desire to have every aspect of my life be absolutely perfect in every way possible at all moments of existence. When something comes along that reminds me that this is not happening, it’s crippling.
I know many circumstances are beyond our control and therefore things can never be “perfect”. The things within my control, however, THOSE I can perfect. You can never have a routine that is flawless, your cell phone will never work 100% of the time, your car check engine light will never be off forever, never have a bank account that does not require diving into even though it’s only 4 feet deep and the sign clearly says, “No Diving.” Things will not be perfect, so long as you have any of the following: a job, health, a relationship, a family, kids, bowel movements, breath, hair, a face, and a body. At least not all at once. Or can you?
I have always been a believer that life can turn out perfectly. That my every breath can feel crystal clear and refreshing while I’m dancing amongst the moon and stars with my heart pounding to the beat of the Universe’s drum. I suppose that makes me optimistic?
However, I also believe that the Universe is single-handedly looking to destroy me, and only me, and has been plotting my slow and painful demise since I was born considering that perfection is what I aspire to and yet, cannot seem to attain. So maybe I am really a pessimist?
I also find the most simple and unremarkable things amazing and awe-inspiring. I can be enlightened, laugh, and my imagination can soar up higher than the moon itself within seconds…. maybe that again brings me back to being an optimist?
Hmmmm, then again, immediately after finding something great and spectacular, my emotions can plummet further and deeper than the Titanic wreckage. Besides the fact that I am surrounded by all this loot and antique jewelry down here with a sunken ship, I still manage to find everything stupid, out to get me; everyone on the road becomes a horrible driver, every raindrop squelches the bounce in my step, and the life is sucked out of my eyes, turning them grey, hollow, and uninviting holes in my head. My future becomes black and pitiful, and the tear quota that I had stocked up for the upcoming ten years comes gushing out all at once for my organic pillow to soak up.
Like most people, I suppose I am a bit of country and a bit of rock and roll. A little optimism laced with depressive, negative undertones. A clear, healthy, farm fresh meal topped off with a shot of scotch, neat, and some ice cream.
Because classification as optimist vs. pessimist are not only ages old, they are also brash and bold statements, painfully and assuredly defining an individual and placing them into a box of thoughts that should never swagger nor sway, I decided to consider two other possibilities on the spectrum of positivity. Even these other two trains of thought are loosely woven and flexible in definition. As with many things in life, it’s fun to consider and ponder.
I call this project: Project Outlook. Not to be confused with Microsoft Outlook. That was all thanks to my good friend, Bill Gates.
The idealist is not necessarily an optimist, nor a pessimist, their world exists in the realm of wishing things to be the very best that they can, and thoroughly believing that this can be so. By telling their brains that reality is created entirely up there in that noggin’, they can actually make bad situations better, OR alternatively they have the power to make a good situation, miserable.
When you’re an idealist, you think big, dream big, act big, and YOU control your own universe. That means, when you’re not thinking big, dreaming big, and acting big….YOU suck.
On the positive side, the idealist values principles, ideals, values, and goals over what may be for society, or others, a tangible reality. This can be a really handy trait when looking for the best in others. An idealist usually sees the best in everyone, while simultaneously finding their imperfections and picking them to shreds, and can always find reasons to be loving, kind, supportive, empathetic, and generous with their fellow human beings. I like this view!
The repercussion, or drawback (if you will), of this thinking is a little, or a lot, of personal blame, guilt, suffering, etc, etc if you are not in line with how you believe you should be living your life. Also with the principle of idealism comes the responsibility to search and find what the “key” is for you and how to constantly be working your way towards a better YOU.
Check out where Idealists do all their uniting: http://www.idealist.org/. This website perpetuates the idea that people are of good nature would opt to volunteer, be honest, and provide connections to one another for jobs, internships, community service, events, etc. I actually just posted this website because it’s really interesting and I found it while Googling “Idealism”.
Idealists are so sure that there are good things on the horizons for everyone and they are banking on that very thing happening. In an idealist’s world, the best is always yet to come.
This is your Captain Princess Pollyanna, reporting with a chipper attitude and smile. These are the people that crash their car, drown their cellphones, use up all their AAA towing privileges, and get fired from their job all in the same day yet still manage to whip out lines like, “Today is a fabulous day! Isn’t the sky beautiful!?” I like optimists, I really do, except sometimes they make me feel so BAD about myself. Because while I just need a moment to whine and complain and see how terrible my situation is, all they see is daisies, roses and butterflies. On the other hand, I am jealous of these folks, it’s almost as though optimists never had any wool over their eyes to begin with. I’m not sure if they were born with this or if it was Maybelline, but they most certainly embody the adage, “Ignorance is Bliss.” Or are they truly ignorant? Perhaps I’m missing something and life really is so grand. Optimists see life through rose-colored glasses and it looks perfectly wonderful to them. They find it their personal mission to help others around them find this rose-glasses-giving optician as well. Too bad my eye insurance doesn’t cover lenses. When the going gets tough, the optimist keeps on glowing.
I think one of the keys to successful optimism is DISTRACTION. This is the ability to completely refocus your mind, on something completely different than the negative situation at hand. That is, when there is no positivity to be seen in your current happenings. Which, for an optimist is a rare occurrence in the first place.
I know what you’re thinking. By now, you’re thinking that this is what I, the author, am. Am I right? Is that what you were thinking? Or were you thinking about the jelly donut you’re going to snag from your company’s snack table since it’s “Donut Thursday” right after you read this blog? Ya, well that is a terrible idea, you’re probably going to get diabetes, or get looked at smugly by your healthy co-worker when you walk by her desk, or spill jelly on your white collared shirt and then your wife will know you ate jelly donuts and you won’t get any smooches or lovin’ for a week. So, why don’t you just go ahead and sit back down in your cubicle and swivel chair and keep reading, and working, and whittling away at your boring, dead end job. I’m not a pessimist. But, from first hand experience and intense observation of this species, I can tell you all about them.
You know when you suggest a great idea and it’s shot down instantly making you wish you’d kept your mouth shut? Pessimist. You know when you mention that someone did something out of the kindness of their heart and the person you’re confiding in tells you they are doing it because they are trying to get something from you or out of you? Pessimist. You know when you share a funny story about your kids and the friend you’re telling responds, “God, I’m glad I don’t have kids, pain in the butt how you have to pay for them for the rest of their lives.” Pessimist.
The pessimist tends to see the worst of everything and everyone. They tend to believe that evil and/or negativity are the outweighing forces in the world. Out of everything that could possibly happen, the likelihood that something good will happen is quite slim. Perhaps even null and void. I often find myself in situations where I am working with pessimists, and on occasion, they end up dragging me by the hair and down the stairs by slashing my ideas in the throat and burying them in a six foot grave somewhere along with my tractor and favorite country pop song album. I must say, I don’t dislike these people, I don’t dislike anyone so I don’t mean to bash them, it’s just really hard for me (the ever wavering idealist) to resist being sucked in by their depressive ways and creating a rain cloud of disappointment over my head that I will never succeed at anything in life. Pessimists make me want to bury my head in the sand like an ostrich and take my ideas and shove them deep in my gullet. I understand that their mindset is their mindset, and I don’t blame them nor do I think there is anything they can truly do about it.
I love them all the same; I know they have a reason to be this way. I just wish they wouldn’t try to convert me to their viewpoint, and would kindly respect MINE. Because, by now, I am at home with the idea that everyone could possibly someday just peace, love, and happiness hug it out over a calorie-free Snickers bar with clear skin and no dandruff.
Last but not least…
This is my favorite of the four. Because, well, let’s get real, they are real. Unfortunately, when I’m on Cloud Nine, and the realist tells me there isn’t going to be a Cloud Nine after it starts to rain this afternoon at 2pm, I get really sad. A realist depends on theories working, on tangibility, on facts and data and solid proven information. Idealists focus on the bettering of each one’s self for one’s self. If you run a red light because you were flying through it at 45 mph and the flash camera caught you and sent you a ticket in the mail, you are responsible and you pay it. It’s not because the universe hates you, it’s not that karma is out to get you. It’s not going to get better, until you get better. So, suck it up, and do the right thing. Always. Remember your Grandma? She was the realist of the family. Look at things in the best way that you can, and learn from your mistakes. Have faith, have hope, invite reason and well-drawn conclusions into your life. Just be the best you, and don’t expect anyone to be the best you for you. That’s real life, kiddies. We’re grownups now. It seems a bit cold at times, but it’s really not. It’s really about, well, being really really real.
I wish I could be a realist in many ways. Unfortunately, it’s just so hard to snap out of some ponies and balloons reality that might someday be constitutional pillars of my own life and being real means I will have to do some serious work if I want to get to where I want to be.
Now, the question remains… on the spectrum of perspectives…who is right? Whose view of the world is accurate?
They can’t all be right, can they? They can’t all be wrong either?
Perhaps reality is simply whatever you make of it. Ha, there, that makes ME right!!! Doesn’t it?