For brief periods in my life I’ve attempted to be an optimist—someone who expects the best, is hopeful for the future and has faith in the good of humanity in general. Optimism is supposed to be good for you, mentally and physically. My forays into optimism never last long. Circumstances beyond my control—sudden death, accidents, liars, stupidity, narcissists, corruption, manipulators, cheaters, natural disasters, etc.—always contrive to forcibly shove me back into my natural state of pessimism: expecting the worst, all the time.
There’s one positive aspect of the pessimist’s mindset: if you expect the worst, you probably won’t be disappointed.
But because living as a pessimist is hard and involves a great deal of cynicism (which is not as much fun as sarcasm) and anxiety, I’m embarking on an experiment in compromise.
If I can’t be an optimist, perhaps I can at least be a grateful pessimist.
Gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
It has been scientifically proven that gratitude is good for us. It has an effect on our brains and our bodies. I like to take a daily multi-vitamin, but a daily dose of gratitude is probably equally beneficial.
When we suffer a devastating loss, finding things to be grateful for is challenging. When we’re keenly disappointed by life, finding things to be thankful for can feel like a shallow exercise in futility. But we need to do it anyway. Why? Because making the effort to be grateful might just negate the potential impacts of pessimism on the body, which are many.
If you tend toward pessimism and want to toy with gratitude, I suggest starting small. Really small. Don’t aim for grand generalizations. Your cynical side will just roll its reddened eyes and offer a shoulder shrug. Instead, start with things like trees, birds and indoor plumbing. How about toilet paper? Paved roads? Cars that start? Squirrels chasing each other up a tree? Hot coffee? Chocolate? Hugs? Family. Whatever it is, find something to purposefully be grateful for today.
For myself, today I’m going with refrigeration. Without refrigeration there would be no Thanksgiving leftovers, and leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. They’re also the only leftovers many men willingly eat.
I’m also particularly thankful for exercise (which creates endorphins that make the brain feel better, at least temporarily), for real friends (who love and accept unconditionally), and for central heat (you don’t want to see me try to go without heat and electricity…it’s ugly).
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Hug your loved ones tight and don’t leave important words unsaid.
It is with great sadness that the HT announces our Rangely correspondent, Jen Hill, has accepted a full-time position with the Rangely School District. She has done a terrific job covering Rangely news and we’ll miss her insight. A loss for us is a gain for Rangely students.
If you are able to write, interested in local government, willing to go to meetings and events, and enjoy sharing stories about Rangely and its residents, please email email@example.com for more information.
We’ll be having a holiday open house next Friday, Nov. 30 here at the office in the Hugus Building in conjunction with Pat Daggett’s annual reception at The Upstairs Gallery. Stop by and say hello, become a subscriber if you just haven’t gotten around to that yet, and let us know what you’d like to see in the paper in the coming year.
By Niki Turner | firstname.lastname@example.org