For the majority of my life, I've had a natural bend toward pessimism. I've been untrusting of most people, especially those who seem happy all the time. There was a woman I worked with briefly who constantly annoyed me with her attitude. For every admission of something going wrong in her life, she followed up with, "But God is good. And I'm so thankful for what he is doing." I thought she was stupid for not recognizing that life sucked and allowing herself to truly be pissed about it.
I asked her daughter if she - the woman - was for real, "If there is one thing I've learned from my mom, it's how to find the silver lining in any situation."
I've changed my mind about gratitude.
While I've assumed the role of pessimist, I've always trusted myself and my intuition. It seems a walking contradiction, to be a pessimist who follows her heart. But being happy all the time does not compute. While I am a dreamer, I'm also a realist. I don't live in the clouds.
So I'm learning how to choose optimism in the form of expressing gratitude. Pessimism has, and still does, serve me well - like doubt and fear - but I find being in a frequent state of thankfulness moves me past things that bug me a bit more easily. Saying thank you for the small things - a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, a warm shower every morning, a strong, healthy body, food in my belly - instead of assuming they'll always be there, has shifted my perspective of optimism.
I keep a daily journal of my gratitude with The Five-Minute Journal. I thank God for my husband sleeping beside me every night, even when he's snoring and keeping me awake. I am grateful for the small signs that remind us we are on the right path, setting our intentions together and choosing well.
Being grateful is as easy as complaining, but a far better activity to release negative energy. My pessimism is still with me, she's just sitting in the back seat.
"Today is a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before."