A Happiness Guide for Pessimists

I am not a pessimist, but I was raised by a pessimist father.  And anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely adore my father.  So when I talk about pessimists, it’s with much love.

Many people have asked how it is possible that I grew up an optimist.  I believe it was during the early days of my teenage years that the influence of a Godly man pointed me in the right direction.  My high school youth pastor lead me to a relationship with God and that by reading God’s word (the bible) and hanging out with other Godly kids, I naturally became an optimist.

I’ve received comments from readers who say that it’s easy to be an optimist when I haven’t ever faced hardships or devastation.  Does fire, divorce, physical spousal abuse, or infidelity count?  Trust me, I’ve had plenty to cause me to be a pessimist…

After my divorce 10 years ago, a close friend said that everyone was shocked that my marriage of 15 years had ended.  No one had a clue that I was unhappy.  Well, I wasn’t unhappy.  Okay, maybe there was a time that I was…but I was so miserable being unhappy that I decided to change that and be happy no matter the circumstances.  And I did.  I fought like crazy.  I was going to be happy.  I didn’t change my circumstances, I just changed my attitude, which changed my perspective.

Who really wants to be unhappy?

Happiness guide for pessimistsI kind of think that many pessimists believe that they can’t change their negative habits.  My ex-husband (also a pessimist) said that my happiness and enthusiasm was false.  Really?  Why, because I didn’t enjoy sitting around talking about how bad things are?  I didn’t enjoy “drama?”  I didn’t enjoy complaining?  I didn’t enjoy being around people complained non-stop…?  I believe that you can go out and fix a fence and be filled with joy as you do it.  You can make it fun.

If you are a pessimist, I have good news for you.  You can break free.  Your attitude is a choice.  Your perspective on life and circumstances does dictate your level of happiness.  And best of all, God never intended for any of us to live in a state of unhappiness.

From the bible:  (The Voice)

Psalm 4:7  You have filled me with joy, and happiness has risen in my heart, great delight and unrivaled joy, even more than when bread abounds and wine flows freely.

 Proverbs 29:18  Where there is no vision from God, the people run wild, but those who adhere to God’s instruction know genuine happiness.

John 13:17  If you know these things, and if you put them into practice, you will find happiness.

Okay, now that we know that God intends for his people to experience happiness and joy, how can we break the pessimist habit?

  • Think, act, talk, and conduct your self like the person you want to become.

 I clearly remember the night that I stood over the stove, cooking spaghetti for my husband and 3 kids.  I was on the phone with my best friend Rhonda.  I was grumbling about how tired I was of cooking for a family that didn’t appreciate what I do for them.  My husband walked in, and I snarled at him.  Rhonda said something profound to me that night.  I wish I could remember what it was.  All I know is, I made a decision that night to change my attitude and start being cheerful and happy.  I didn’t want to be that unhappy person, snipping at my children, frowning at my husband, complaining to my friends.  That’s when I decided to act, talk, and be the person I wanted to become.  A happy person, that people enjoyed being around.  A person my kids wanted to be with.  A cheerful and loving wife, that my husband wanted to be with.  (Unfortunately, my husband didn’t enjoy being around a cheerful wife.)

  •  Place a high value on people.

 My favorite thing in life is to encourage others.  Some say it’s “my gift.”  I don’t believe it’s a gift.  I think that when you help people, look for the best in them, try to bring out their positive qualities, genuine joy is the result.

  •  Look for something positive in every situation.

 When I lost everything in an apartment fire in the mid 80s, I could have sat and cried for days.  Instead, I looked at the outpour of love from a community of people I didn’t even know.  I was overwhelmed at the showering of gifts and clothing.  I was so much better off in terms of physical belongings after the fire than before.

  •  Choose to rid yourself negative character flaws.

 Three behaviors that I view as character flaws are:  impatience, being critical, being self absorbed.  Get rid of those, and you’ll see a huge improvement in your level of happiness.

  •  Say something positive in every conversation.

 Compliment, praise, acknowledge, bolster, raise up, and reward.

  •  Remove negative words from your vocabulary.

Negatives:

I can’t
If only
I don’t think
I don’t have the time
Maybe
I’m afraid
I don’t believe

Replace with Positives:

I can
I will
I know
I will make the time
Absolutely!
I’m confident
I’m sure

Start with little things, like changing your vocabulary or appreciating little things.  If you can to learn to appreciate them and be grateful for them, you’ll appreciate the big things as well as everything inbetween.

 I’ll end with a quote from John Wooden:

 “Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

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