“Life is one long series of bitter disappointments filled with all too brief moments of mindless pleasure.” I remember this quote from a sitcom I enjoyed many years ago called ‘Men Behaving Badly’. As a younger, single, God-less heathen type I adopted it as my mission statement for life because at the time it fit my life-style perfectly. Work full-time, find the best bar or party to go to, drink adult beverages and chase voluptuous women. Maturity and responsibility were mixed in there to varying degrees, but darn it, being mature and responsible was a pain in the rear. Finally I noticed that I was the last man standing in my circle of friends. Most of my friends had all moved on to marriages and more civilized pursuits. Eventually I too became hitched which changed things a bit. Then a wonderful child came along and more change occurred. Then a divorce and another marriage and even more change. All the while I did my best to be an optimist. The mission statement I had lived by for over a decade seemed pessimistic at best and an immature view of life. Now that I am older and ‘wiser’ (yeah I can hear the snickering out there, STOP IT!!!). I believe I can see where optimism and even pessimism can both be a good thing.
I am sure that we have all heard the statements “You can be anything you want in life” or “If you work hard and envision your goal you will obtain it”. Sounds good but life comes at you fast and frankly while you control what you can do and how you live by the decisions you make, there are still things that happen to people because they have no control over them. For instance, in my thirties I had enough hair to have a pony tail. Yeah much of those follicles are now as extinct as the dinosaurs but believe me they were there. I had a job that didn’t mind my long hair and I never gave a thought to why anyone could possibly look at me as a slacker just because I had long hair. Well I lost the job I had, and started applying at other companies, one of which called me in for an interview. I thought the interview went well, my experience and qualifications met their requirements and the salary was fair and equitable. I envisioned myself working there and do very well as one of their employees. Optimism right? Well I didn’t get the job. I learned months later after talking to someone who worked for that company, that their dress-code did not permit men to have any hair that hung over their shirt collar. Color me surprised. I didn’t know about this dress-code and thinking back I am not even sure I would have cut my hair had I known ahead of time because I didn’t think they should have the right to tell me how to style my hair. Anyway I was optimistic and confident, had done everything I could to get the job but because the interviewer thought long-haired guys were slackers I did not get what I wanted. I worked for something, envisioned that something but still got denied. What happened? This optimism thing failed me. Dang it pessimism and anger set it.
Thinking back on this, I should have used the pessimism as a motivation tool. What if we made decisions not by just filling our minds with optimism but also with just a little bit of pessimism? You know your right for a promotion. You have done everything possible to attain this promotion and you just know deep inside your mind you DESERVE this promotion. Along with that great euphoric feeling, what if you also allowed yourself to see ways you might not get what you know you deserve. Maybe your boss has a golden child employee he favors more than you with all your qualifications. Maybe you’re not the young up and comer this boss is looking for. Point is you probably have done everything in your power to prove the promotion should belong to you but the final decision isn’t yours to make. This pinch of pessimism can soften the blow if you don’t get the promotion and help you deal with the disappointment better. All these years I thought being pessimistic was useless, silly me. Pessimism can motivate you to work harder, try harder and maybe reach and attain a goal you want or deserve in the future. Pessimism in moderation anyway. Too much pessimism can lead to lethargy and depression.
I guess my point is, as I age I see things differently. What once was thought of as a negative can sometimes be used as a positive. Optimism tempered with the right amount of pessimism can be a motivator and help us be a better person. In the end isn’t that what really matters? Just because we can’t be what we really dream about being, we can still be the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be. I know being the best I can be is my mission statement of choice ever since I became a parent. While I work at it every day it has a wonderful simplicity and goodness about it.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I appreciate it…………….