It’s all in your perspective.
I don’t consider myself to be an optimist or a pessimist, although I have had various people tell me I see things on the negative side. I have honest and truly sat back and listened to them. At times in my life, I was very negative. But I don't believe all of the time.
I really believe I’m closer to a "realist". Some bad things just do happen, and why should I ignore it or pretend it isn’t there just to be “positive”. I don’t find acceptance of the negative things in the world a negative action. On the flip side, I don’t believe I go looking for, and giving power to, the negative in things.
However, as I’ve grown older, I have shifted my perspective to find the positive in more things. That doesn’t make me an optimist, still, in my opinion. I still feel I’m firmly in the stance of being a realist. But it does change my emotions and attitude when seeking out the silver lining, even while still acknowledging the cloud.
I can remember what I perceive to be the first time I ever “did” this. It was during a time when my mom was still alive but fighting her cancer, and it was winter. I was visiting home and they had gotten a LOT of snow before I arrived, and it was still snowing during my visit. My mom was visibly uncomfortable with the weather, and was actually pacing a little. She’d look out the window and she looked so depressed. I asked her what was wrong. She said something to the effect that it was “gloomy” out or that it was cold and miserable out. I looked out the window and then back to her, and all I wanted to do was make her happy. I asked her, “Are you cold?” She said she wasn’t but that it looked so cold outside. I asked her again, “Are you cold?” She again said, “No,” and looked at me like I was going to get ornery with her or something. I said something like, “well, you’re inside and not out there, so why are you upset about it being cold? You’re not cold, so what does it matter if it’s cold outside? You’re not planning on going out any time soon. So why don’t you just enjoy the weather? You’re warm and look. It’s so pretty. The white of the snow looks so clean and it’s sparkly. And everything looks soft. Isn’t it pretty?”
She paused for a bit of time, while looking out the window. Then she said, “You’re right. It’s very pretty outside. I’ll enjoy that.” And I just thought, that was so much better than her being upset that it was cold out when the cold wasn’t even directly affecting her at the time.
I marveled that those few words from me would help someone change their perspective to something a little more positive or at least peaceful. I’ve done it a lot, specifically with winter, and it changes my whole attitude about the cold as well. People grumble all throughout winter… it’s cold, the snow makes driving hard, etc. etc. etc. I just smile and say, “but isn’t it pretty?”
I just don’t want to hate three to four months out of every year. I don’t want to feel miserable because “it’s cold”. I don’t want to spend another month dreading that “it’s coming”. Actually, I’m not a summer person. I don’t like being hot. I don’t like to sweat. So for me, I had to turn that perspective of “I hate summer” into something else. Summer is awesome. The sunshine is great – longer days. I love being able to sit outside in the night and hear the crickets and see the stars. I like the smell and sound of a warm summer rain. And if I’m hot, I’ll go inside to where there is air conditioning. I don’t need to be hot. I have options. So why should I dread how hot it is outside if I’m just going to walk from my air conditioned house to my air conditioned car and drive to my air conditioned office?
It sure makes my heart and soul just that much more at peace and happy to not feel those “bitches and moans” welling up inside of me. That just makes for a happier life.
**edit** This post isn't particularly about winter, or summer, it was just an example I had floating around in my head. I just wanted to share that negativity abounds, and recently I've heard more and more of it specifically about winter. But there are a lot of things I try to change my perspective on: cranky holiday shoppers, cashiers who look oh-so hateful, someone else's tension & negativity over a looming deadline, those "toxic" personalities who can't say one good thing at the office. I always try to find something to point out in each of these situations to help change the perspective to a brigher note. I'm not always successful. **end edit**
What about you? Do you gravitate toward the negative? Or the positive? Have you ever mindfully altered your perspective? How did that feel?