the bright side of life
Updated: Mar 19, 2021
unless my wine glass is filled to the brim, i see it as half empty. does that make me a pessimist? i mean, c'mon, the operative word here isn't "full" or "empty." it's "half" and "wine."
as i drink my now half glass of wine, i'm watching, or more accurately, re-watching the apple tv+ series, "ted lasso." and thanks to jason sudeikis and the other masterminds of this brilliant comedy, i am now questioning my "glass half empty" mentality.
does my choice between "half empty" and "half full" depend on what's in the glass? if i was expected to drink a glass of cod liver oil, would i see the glass as more full than empty? and why does this clever little show now have me doubting how i approach the world? that's a lot of questions. i'd better get more wine.
up until recently, i've been positively happy with my lack of optimism. it goes swimmingly with my love of '90s grunge music and propensity for plaid, the way peanut butter goes with jam. actually, now that i think of it, i'm not particularly fond of peanut butter and jam, so maybe that was a bad analogy, but i digress.
the truth is, i've always been somewhat skeptical of overly optimistic people. i mean, what are they hiding behind those pollyanna facades? there's got to be skeletons in those closets, like actual skeletons. in defense of my less than optimistic outlook, i was raised with a newton's third law philosophy. as a child, when i laughed too robustly, my mom would lovingly remind me that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction; meaning if i didn't stop laughing, i would soon be crying. it made sense to me as a child but now when i think about it, i'm like, wtf mom? i'm going to cry at some point regardless of whether i'm laughing now, so shouldn't i just enjoy this moment? mental note - must bring this up to my future therapist.
but now, because of a tv character, i'm questioning the very foundation of my thinking. you see, ted lasso is an optimist. but he's not a simple-minded, hapless character whose rosy perspective is nothing more than the consequence of not knowing any better. this is a smart character; a smart character with demons and difficult circumstances. the difference between ted lasso and myself is that, yes, ted lasso is a fictional character and i am not. but more importantly, ted chooses to confront life with optimism. more often than not, i choose to confront life with a cocktail of self-pity, sour bitters and a twist of lime.
i'm reminded of my brother in-law. he's also an optimist. i used to secretly hope scientists would one day cure him of this affable affliction. to add salt to my already pessimistic wound, no matter what life throws at my brother in-law, he always seems to come out on top. annoying, right?
now, this isn't just my pessimism talking, but in my experience, life isn't always daisies and unicorns. so, how is it this guy can, not just turn lemons into lemonade, but he can seemingly turn lemons into delicious, mouth-watering limoncello?
and then it struck me. are optimistic people somehow able to will more positive outcomes into reality? is it possible, by assuming life isn't all rainbows and butterflies that i am somehow confirming a self-fulfilling prophecy of a life without rainbows and butterflies?
i recently read that optimism engages the frontal lobe region of the brain. so, in addition to all of the other questions swimming in my head, i'm now also wondering whether optimistic people are healthier and possibly smarter than their counterparts? my dad suffered from frontal lobe degeneration in his later years and trust me when i say, you definitely want to have a healthy frontal lobe. so now, i'm convinced. i must choose optimism, if for no other reason that to save my frontal lobe.
but i'm already 54. is it too late? have i missed the deadline to switch to optimism in the same way that i seem to have missed the deadline to contribute to a retirement fund? oh, wait, that's not something ted lasso would say to himself. nope. ted lasso would say, "you're never too old to change." so, yeah, from this moment on, i'm channelling my inner ted lasso. i'm going with optimism. starting with refilling my wine glass to half full.