Optimism trumps pessimism…every time


They say that to be happy and positive, one must surround oneself with happy and positive people. Don’t ask me who “they” are. I only know that I keep reading this — as if the statement was directed toward me. I’m not the most positive person in the world; the optimist in me is frequently overcome by the pessimist.

But I live with an optimist. He can find the brightest spot of the gloomiest situation. Here’s an example. Winter in Ohio can be tough. Dark, cold and often gloomy, especially as we move toward spring and the cold rains seem to overtake our lives. But try taking a walk with my husband on one of these days. Inevitably, his comment will be “Gee, what a nice day”. As my adopted third daughter would say, “Meh”.

So…with this idea of surrounding myself with happy, positive beings, I have this little routine. I sit and think of the funniest, sunniest, brightest bulbs in my life. These are the individuals who can simply make me laugh and/or smile by appearing in my thoughts.

Okay, so there’s my coworker, Coral Naylor. She’s 25, married and due to deliver her first child in a little more than a month. Given the realities of the third trimester, she should be exhausted, dragging herself to work, and cranky all day. But no. Instead, her lilting, “Hi! How are you?” greets me the minute I walk in the door. It’s not a fake greeting; it’s real. One look at me tells her I need a hug, which she gives me, huge belly and all. I can’t help but laugh.

Next in line is my old friend, Lester Lute, a Bluffton University graduate who I haven’t seen in years but with whom I have regular contact through e-mail and Facebook. Lester has faced down a frightening, threatening form of cancer, undergone several surgeries and follow up treatments, yet through it all, his reports have remained upbeat, cheerful and always focusing on the positive side. One of his first photos after surgery was accompanied by “Yes, the dimples are still there.” Anyone who knows Les thinks immediately of those gorgeous, huge dimples — always in evidence because he is rarely not smiling.

Most young children can lift my spirits in a second. My little cousins, Seth and Kate Pannabecker, never fail to make me laugh. We sometimes meet up on the way to school and their usual comment is a happy rendition of “We’re going to school!!!!” Compare this to college students I pass on their way to class, faces down, feet dragging. I’d rather run into the younger generation.

S and K’s little sister, Mia, isn’t old enough for school yet, but she wishes she were. But just one look at her and I laugh. How this tiny blond imp with chubby cheeks does it, I don’t know. But she’s a giggling, smiling elf — even when her sister is spinning her around so fast you’d think she’d upchuck.

Then there are those at the opposite end of the age scale, but filled with similar optimism. My favorite Spanish teacher, Sally Reeder, greets me as she heads out on her daily BFR walk — sound system in hand. She and I know what the grin is about — at the top of her playlist is bullfighting music. 

And Claude Boyer, a retired pastor who is a double for Colonel Sanders…I can always count on him for a joke, the best kind — better known as “groaners”. Always. Every time.

But the best, absolute best mood lifter — always cheerful, always happy to lick my ear…is that four footed sidekick. Ike, the mini Schauzer. There is nothing more cheering that coming home to that happy face peering out the window, tail wagging. And then he’s all over me. Never fails.

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3 responses to “Optimism trumps pessimism…every time

  1. I think I will move in with you….. often the day depends on the decision to have a GOOD DAY as I get out of bed…..almost always works, too.

  2. Pannabecker Steiner Mary

    Come on over! We’ll make room for you. Ike will be happy to share his cheer.

  3. Good examples! Yes, it makes sense to step out of bed on the “right” side.

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