By likemindblog




Chapter 7 (Continued from last week)

Are You An Optimist or a Pessimist?

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”- James Branch Cabell Noticing the difference is easy. An optimist, when faced with a problem, tends to find the up side to the situation and starts figuring out ways to solve that problem, or ways to turn it around. A pessimist, however, immediately throws up his hands, and yells, “That’s it; it’s all over. I can’t handle this anymore.” Or he will distance himself from the problem, pretending it doesn’t matter. This is denial, and it never works. Pessimists see the glass as half-empty, rather than half-full. They see the hole, instead of the donut; the cloud, rather than the silver lining.

An indication that you are dealing with a pessimist is in a simple phrase they will use in stressful situations. “I can’t.” The pessimist feels helpless, powerless in that situation and it shows in their response. The optimist responds with “I won’t.” This shows that they are making a conscious choice, not just reacting.

A pessimist is afflicted with the “what if” disorder. He constantly thinks, “what if something bad happens, what if I lose my job, what if co-workers don’t like me, what if, what if, what if…” An optimist prefers to think more positively. What if nothing bad happens, what if everything comes out fine? They tend to focus on what they really want, not what might happen to them. What exactly are the benefits of being optimistic, rather than pessimistic?

For starters, an optimist is more likely to achieve their goals, because they never give up. They may even achieve goals faster than their more pessimistic counterparts. Optimists are just naturally happier, sunnier, and more energetic individuals; and they actually encounter fewer obstacles along the way. They also tend to inspire others to a more optimistic behavior and greater achievement .  Optimists are easier to be around, and can even make others feel more energetic and positive. Pessimists are very difficult to deal with and can make people around them feel very depressed and hopeless too.

Now true optimism is not sitting back, thinking positive thoughts, and hoping everything will turn out all right. It’s how you see the world, positively rather than negatively. You face each situation, each problem, and each occasion with a positive attitude; and you always look forward to the benefits you will derive from it. The pessimist focuses on the problem, rather than the solution. They don’t find a solution, because they’re not looking for one. They’re totally focused on failure. “That’s just the way it is; there’s nothing we can do,” they’ll tell you.

An optimist really believes they can make a difference in the situation or the problem, that there is a solution. They tend to bounce back quicker from losses and other life challenges than the pessimist. The pessimist sees failure as inevitable and never moves forward to reverse it. What’s most difficult to take from pessimists is their judgment of others. This is the only way they can feel good about themselves. With so much selfhate, it’s no wonder that they have so little confidence in themselves or any selfesteem.  This attitude brings everyone down to their level. Dr. Phil would tell you they do this because there’s a payoff somewhere. So, what is it? They don’t have to take responsibility for their own lives; they take no action to pull themselves from this pessimistic mindset.

Sidney J. Harris said, “A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.” And Peggy Noonan said, “Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It’s unrealistic and kind  of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try.”

What it comes down to is that your attitude is a conscious choice. If you choose to be pessimistic, you’re choosing to see the down side of every situation, judge people unfairly, and live unhappily the rest of your life. What an oppressive existence!  On the other hand, if you choose optimism, you’re empowering yourself to see the positive side of each challenge, seeing the good in people, helping them to see the good in life too, taking action to further improve your own life, and living happily with friends and family who care about you.  Choosing to be more optimistic and positive does not mean you won’t encounter difficult times, trauma, loss and many challenges. What it does mean is that you will have more power on your side to help you through those tough times. You’ll bounce back faster and make better choices, rather than letting life just wash over you. You’ll learn to be proactive, instead of reactive.  If you’re not naturally optimistic and positive, don’t worry. You can learn how to use your thoughts to change your attitude and emotions. It won’t be easy;  some days will be very challenging, but you can do it. Each time your mind produces a negative thought, stop right there and turn it around to find the positive aspect of the situation. Do this each time and soon, it will become a habit to be positive and upbeat about your life.  It’s your choice. “Change your thoughts and change your world,” said Norman Vincent Peale.  

Chapter 8

Got Problems? Congratulations, You’re Alive!

“You can come out of the furnace of trouble two ways: if you let it consume you, you come out a cinder; but there is a kind of metal which refuses to be consumed, and comes out a star.” – Jean Church

If you have problems, congratulations, it means you’re alive. A person with no problems is not really alive; they just think they are. In order to tackle those problems, you need knowledge; knowledge is power. And when a problem suddenly tackles you, remember the first words of the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – DON’T PANIC! Take a deep breath and look at the problem from all angles, gather your information, and study the problem. There’s always a solution; it’s just a matter of some creative deduction. Don’t let yourself get flustered. Emotions won’t solve the problem; you need to have a cool head and a keen eye for the solution, which may be closer than you think. Stanley Arnold said, “Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution.”

So, when you don’t know where to turn when faced with a problem, turn to yourself. Everything you need is already within you. Start organizing. Instead of getting tensed and stressed out, calm yourself. You can’t think and focus when you’re emotionally overwrought; and you certainly can’t solve a problem in that state. Your decisions in that moment will be completely off-kilter and out of focus.  Sigmund Freud said, “The chief duty of a human being is to endure life.”  Thank goodness there’s more to it than that! How awful to go through life simply enduring! Don’t just endure life — enjoy it!

A sign, hanging on the laboratory wall of Charles Kettering of General Motors, contains these words: “Do not bring me your successes; they weaken me. Bring me your problems; they strengthen me.”  The first thing you must acknowledge is that life isn’t necessarily a bowl of cherries. Things might be difficult, but not impossible. Remember, the impossible just takes a little longer to solve. Life is not for the faint-hearted. It can sometimes be very tough, very hard to take. John Lennon told us, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

The important thing is to never say die. Shakespeare said, “A coward dies many times before his death, the brave man only once.” Be courageous! Sometimes, it’s not enormous challenges that frighten us, but just the idea of doing something different – stepping outside the comfort zone. The trouble with a comfort zone is that it can turn into a very deep rut and we become trapped in it. Don’t stay in the rut. Pull yourself out; challenge yourself. Try something completely different. Get out of your comfort zone. Does it terrify you to step outside that very comfortable zone? It doesn’t have to be a giant leap forward.  Try just taking baby steps. Just don’t be afraid to take the next step and the next.

Don’t start backing up or the beeping noise will give you away. Before you know it, all those baby steps will add up and you’ll discover you’re on your first road road trip!  Rudyard Kipling said, “We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a  single excuse.” So don’t be afraid of failing. Failure isn’t fatal or permanent; and it can actually help you towards success. At the very least, you learn how not to do something.  Fear is a nasty habit that eventually develops a defeatist attitude. If what you’re trying isn’t working, try something new and different. It’s the old “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” attitude.  The word “worry” is actually derived from an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to strangle or choke.” Being a worrywart means literally choking yourself. Time to give it up. Robert Frost said, “The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.”  Some days, you’ll feel like you’re on the road to nowhere and you’re  getting there really fast. There will be days when you’re just bored or frustrated, asking yourself if this is all there is. It may even feel like you’ll never be happy again. Tough times are going to come, that’s just part of life. You’re going to get frustrated and disappointed, and you will be faced with problems. That’s life. There’s no way things will be wonderful all the time.

How would you learn to appreciate wonderful times if you don’t experience bad ones now and then? You can’t appreciate being high on a mountain top if you don’t occasionally encounter the valleys in between. You can only enjoy rainbows after a storm.  So, how do you avoid the defeatist attitude? For starters, don’t talk defeat. Whether it’s defeat or acceptance, you can talk yourself into either one. Use good, hopeful words, and never talk down to yourself or to others. Remember, you can if you think you can. You’ve heard the expression, “he’s his own worst enemy.” Don’t be your own worst enemy; be kind to yourself. Find your own potential. You have it within you, it’s there if you just look for it.  Find a way to take advantage of the adversity that happens in your life.  J.C. Penney said, “I would never have amounted to anything had I not been  forced to come up the hard way.” William A. Ward said, “Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” And even Shakespeare stated that, “Sweet are the uses of adversity.”  Do you often feel fearful? Do you feel inadequate or inferior? Do you feel you need to be doing something exciting all the time, or be around other people constantly, to avoid the fear of being alone?

When faced with a fear, do not shrink from it. This allows that fear to increase in size, making you even more fearful of it. Face it squarely, look it in the eye, and take action! Then watch as that fear begins to shrink and diminish right in front of you.  After you conquer that fear, you’ll smile and ask yourself why you were ever afraid of it in the first place. After all, look how tiny it is now, almost not worth bothering with at all. Theodore Roosevelt said, “I have often been afraid, but I wouldn’t give in to it. I made myself act as though I was not afraid and gradually, my fear disappeared.”  The most ridiculous fear of all is of what might happen, what might occur. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Think hopefully. Just being on the planet means a miracle happened already. Think, believe, work, and help those around you to be brave.  In the words of Jack London, “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” Look at problems in your life in a positive way. They allow us to come up with solutions, encouraging us with success, thereby promoting self-confidence in our own abilities. Use positive thinking to help you overcome obstacles, defeat any difficulty, and build yourself up.

Life can be a bed of roses. Instead of telling yourself that those roses have thorns, try it this way: those thorns have some beautiful roses! According to Zig Ziglar, “You cannot tailor make the situations in life, but you can tailor make the attitudes to fit those situations before they arise.

to be continued next week…

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Filed in: Health • Saturday, June 18th, 2011


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My name is Michele Andree. I am an artist, I paint musicians in action. I think I’m a musician at heart, my instrument being… a brush, so I play…brush and I paint… music.
I love jazz. I call it freedom music. It promotes special values. I love intelligent people and good conversations.

Some people ask me how music relates to art. Personally I find they go hand in hand. Music is what turns me on to painting. It makes me see colours