Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pessimists And Optimists

Let me share three quotes. One by a man named Guillaume Appollnaire, one by my granddaughter, and one by my wife.

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
-Guillaume Appollnaire

My wife likes to watch the Home Shopping Network and QVC, especially when they are featuring jewelry. Last weekend my granddaughter, Chloe, made the following comment to her.

Meemo (my wife), you can go watch jewelry. Paw Paw and I are going to play the game.

Another time, after discussing some family gossip, my wife made the following comment.

You know, the grass is not always greener on the other side. In fact, it’s actually brown everywhere.

Each of these quotes present teachable moments. Too often we are focused on the search for happiness and can’t see the forest for the trees. Many times in life what we are looking for is right in front of us. It’s what some Zen Masters refer to as “looking for the spectacles that are sitting upon our nose”. Every time my granddaughter stays at my home she teaches me in very real and practical ways how to be in the moment. Children are natural Zen Masters. Chloe reminds me how much I need to unlearn. My wife is a little more challenging than my granddaughter. She and I have opposing worldviews. I hope she was joking with her quote but the reality is that she is a self-proclaimed pessimist who sees the glass as half empty. I am an eternal optimist who sees the glass as half full. Pessimists think optimists are people who are in denial about reality. Optimists think pessimists have no appreciation for all the goodness in life. Pessimists almost always think in negative terms and optimists almost always think in positive terms. Optimists are not always happy. We know life is not perfect but we live in hope. Pessimists seem to never be happy and always seem to be in waiting for the next crisis. Whenever possible they will even turn a blessing into a problem. Personally, in today’s world, where it sometimes seems that all of society is falling apart, I think optimists should be given medals for bravery.

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