“An optimist would rather try. A pessimist would try to die.” (Unknown) I have been accused of being both pessimistic and optimistic before and I have decided that balance in life is more important than extremism. There are benefits to both pessimistic outlooks and optimistic persistence. The key to succeeding in either frame of mind is to understand what type of outlook is needed at the moment to evaluate or encourage progress. There are many different types of futures and we do not all desire the same outcomes in life. I have found that reaching for different answers from others creates a need for optimism in the face of pessimistic reactions in people whom do not desire the same results.

As a female, I have heard that not having a husband (at the moment) or not having children (I am past child bearing in my life) creates a sad and terrible decision for women who cannot be considered responsible or honestly characteristic of female attributes. The exception to this rule in some societies seems to be a dedication of a female life to following a religious persuasion that takes the place of “earthly” answers. I have to admit, I object strenuously to this point of view. What this points up is that pessimism in our lives can be an influence from others, not just something we have to deal with in our individual outlooks. So can optimism.

People who involved in endeavors that they wish to succeed rely on one another not to give up and to keep a positive outlook over reaching their end goals. To show this, pick any example in the workplace that requires everyone to perform their job to produce the correct product and profitability. Optimism needs to be contagious for team spirit to remain. Working optimism and pessimism from a personal point of view at times is just a reaction for or against others instead of an intrinsically held personal viewpoint. I have found that setting my own expectations outside the parameters of the expectations of others is a good exercise that helps determine my actual level of optimism about reaching any given goal. Once we determine our own point of view, then we can look for others who support that point of view. Surrounding ourselves with only optimistic people can be detrimental to pinpointing trouble spots and barriers to success that “pie-in-the-sky” attitudes can sometimes skip over. On the other hand, a balance should be kept between critics and cheerleaders. To my mind, optimism is not a blind leap of “can-do” faith. Optimism prepares for success, works toward end goals, and leaves room for less positive outlooks as long as the results are not detrimental to the final outcomes. There is a difference between internal pessimistic influences and external pessimistic influences. In the end, optimism wins without self-defeating. This does not guarantee success at every turn with an optimistic outlook. I believe that we live healthier lives when balanced optimism colors our everyday world.





The Human Condition of Living on Your Own (or something like that)

My co-worker went to the hospital yesterday. She is an independent working- woman living on her own. So am I. Her health failed, she called her own ambulance and we are all hoping she comes back healthy soon. This is what it means to many of us that we live on our own. We can find support in our churches and in social circles, and in friends we make as adults…but these are not the same people and family we knew in high school. Our world has changed and we are responsible for the emergencies and the headaches. I know it is not a good, solid, established world if we do not have other people in our lives…but we are no longer children and we have to face our hardships alone at times.

If we lived in the colonial days, most of us would be more self-sufficient. We would grow and hunt our own food, make our own candles to light and spin and sew our own cloth for clothes. In today’s world, we make the money to pay for others to provide what we need. I could not sew a button on a shirt without knowing that I would never place it properly for the hole and attach it securely. While I know that I fail at complete self-sufficiency, the episode of my co-worker yesterday brings home to me that there are times, on our own, that we cannot afford to fail, for ourselves or for others.

Teammates have sent their prayers, their wishes, flowers, and phone calls…but my co-worker has no one to help her with the decisions but her doctors. I cannot begin to say how much the human connection matters. In an adult world, we expect our lives to be our own. When we are on our own, those who care and show us kindnesses become important as validity that we are not disconnected in a self-sufficient mode that will fail in crucial moments.

I have never known how to live in fear. Some who have known me would call me, at times, too brave for my own good. It takes courage and strength to live on your own. Wisdom needs others as well. My co-worker, at this point in time- as far as we know, is going to successfully recover. I often wonder if these sorts of situations are different for women and men, perhaps not.

We can hope; we can care; and we can reach for others…but there will always be those adult moments when it is our own decisions with our own responsibilities that critically determine the answers. There are just more of those moments when we live alone. I hope my co-worker recovers soon. I know she has more strength to have found what she needed in crisis than most. This is not a reason to be afraid. It is a reason to consider that we all need others, in some way, and those of us on our own value that need.