I was delayed a week by my exhibition opening, but we shall now continue with Optimism/Pessimism Week at the NDD!
Are you under a pessimism cloud?
You know those beautiful days in late fall and early spring when it feels warm and wonderful when you are in the sun but have a cloud come over and all the wintery chill lays over you like a blanket? That is how I feel when I am with certain people. Pessimists tend to be that cloud. Some are consciously trying to diminish joy or happiness, but most aren’t. Most are doing nothing more than what they would consider to be normal and even prudent things. They might be bringing up possible dangers for a course of action. They might be pointing out the negative characteristics of someone in order to warn you of them. In their mind, it is helpful to be a pessimist because bad things constantly happen and we should be prepared for it.
But the pessimist usually does not accomplish his or her goal of being safer or happier by being negative. Whatever their conscious intent and reasons, the effect is to suppress joy and enthusiasm. That is what they actually accomplish.
If you happen to be with one of those people, you will also suppress your joy and enthusiasm because those are feelings you naturally want to share and you are with someone who can’t or won’t contribute in the sharing. It’s like being a fun and joyous child who is with a stern parent constantly telling them no. It’s depressing and debilitating.
The way out, it seems to me, is easy enough in one situation. You have a somewhat casual friend who is this person and you make a pretty simple and easy decision to no longer be their friend. But most situations are not that easy. It might be a closer friend, one who relies on you and you are committed to over many years. It might be a boss or a co-worker you can’t get out from under without risking too much, or it might be a spouse/partner with whom you are hopelessly entangled financially, emotionally, materially and more.
In those harder cases you will only be able to retain your joy and enthusiasm for life by either getting above the cloud, being the brighter, hotter sun that evaporates it, or by finding ways to get out from under the cloud for moments at a time. Whether it is by delving into your creative spirit, moving out into the world and connecting to others in group activities, or by choosing a non-reactive response to the pessimism.
None of those are easy choices, but staying under the cloud is much harder for your soul and will eventually destroy it.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman, who has had 6 dogs in his life (Moses, Robbie, Vodka, Oreo, Gracie and Sadie.)