The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious of the rose. ~ Kahlil Gibran
At first blush, the above seems like a rather lightweight line of questioning. On the surface, it could be construed as such. Yet if you really think about it, complexity can mount, as the depth of thinking about something often does.
Over the past decade or so, I have been increasingly challenged with those types of questions. It took a few years before I even realized it was happening, so until then, I had little reason to think about it. That has since drastically changed.
At first, I had written it off as ranging from polite conversation to well meaning comments. One to which I probably smiled, or even made some off-the-cuff something for a response. Then a point arrived that I knew something must be changing, and that something must be me. My disposition was the culprit. It had taken a substantial turn for…well, for the better. I had gone through several years of transitions connected with my profession, and once issues settled down from their roar, I became more at peace with my place in the world around me. Be it age, tiredness from years of fast-paced turmoil, one result was my expanding positive attitude. I finally recognized the fact we can’t do a darned thing about what happened two seconds ago, so why waste time dwelling on the past. More importantly, it was also the point in my life that I learned the difference between happiness and optimism. The latter came about when I realized I am a realistic-optimist. To me, that means I can set my goals extremely high, yet not become disappointed if I fall short of fully achieving lofty goals. That is the realistic part…for me it has worked extremely well.
As I learned, if we confuse happiness with optimism, we are off to a bad start. You can feel happy because happiness is an emotion. Nothing more or less than a reaction to some trigger. As such, it can depart as quickly as it arrived. One only needs to think of how quickly a feeling of happiness can dissolve into one of sadness. Happy, meet sad. Antonyms.
Alas, (I love the special occasions of being able to use that word) it is different being optimistic. We can only be optimistic if we believe there are reasons to believe and allow it to be part of our disposition. To some, this may seem like comparing two words that are synonymous, yet it isn’t. They are as separate as sour and salty. Just to throw in a sense of being technical, which isn’t my nature, happiness is a biological state whereas optimism is a cognitive activity.
Now, let me provide some of my own answers to the questions above. When asked why I’m so happy all of the time, I have a few free-flowing responses. One of my most commonly offered is, it’s the best way to be. I like that answer, since it doesn’t bring in the negative alternative, such as, better than being sad. I like to continue optimistically.
Being a rather sensitive person, it bothers me when I know the person asking is someone that doesn’t partake in much optimism. They typically are ones that dwell on past events, as if they somehow believe they have the power to change bygone outcomes. Impossible.
What did the question make me think of? A lost soul…one who hasn’t yet learned to allow their attitude to advance…one who, for some reason or reasons feels a lack of hope.
How did I feel about the person asking? This is someone in need of enlightenment or in need of recognizing there are more reasons for hope than despair.
I love the feeling of happiness, yet even at times of sadness, I remain realistically optimistic. They don’t need to be exclusive of each other, since they occupy different rooms within the same house…our body…our mind.
So, is there anything such as being too happy? Of course not. We know feelings fluctuate as if on a rollercoaster and happiness is a feeling. By improving our attitude to one of hope and optimism, we become more stabilized.
I enjoy who I am, and I truly enjoy meeting every challenge with my realistically optimistic attitude. It becomes contagious. In these extremely challenging times, showing others the path toward hope can be quite a reward. A win-win situation.
Next time someone asks you why you’re so happy all of the time, think about it…chances are you’re an optimist. An optimist by disposition, and happy because you make the most of any given situation. You might want to give em one of those big, optimistic happy smiles…the world is looking bright to you!