6 things being a pessimist taught me about optimism

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Some of you might think that I have always been an optimist. But you would be wrong.
Back in July of 2010, I was asked if I was an optimist or pessimist and although I said optimist, a friend told me that my answer wasn’t true. I looked at her in shock — knowing how hard I had worked to change they way I thought about things. what actions I took, and my view of the world.
 
All of that wasn’t enough.
 
And I knew it, too.
 
She was right.
 
And I knew that too.
In some ways, my friend did me a favor. It was a slap across the face I never saw coming and most likely, one she never would have wanted to give.
Although my transformation had begun months earlier, I still felt nervous and was on incredibly shaky ground, but I thought I had figured it all out. Even then, I didn’t realize that the journey was ongoing. That this new-found elation about life and my view of it wasn’t just something that was going to “hang out” for a few days and then find its way again.
Some might think that it is easy being negative about everything all the time. But the truth is that it is quite stressful. Without even knowing it, I was faking my way through the days, never really knowing where they would take me next. I refused to try anything new, knowing that I would completely suck at it and would be embarrassed by my inability to ski like Pikabo Street, for example. 
It can be hard to change a mindset and lifestyle without a compass to guide you. Without someone showing you how. However, in looking back, I understand who I was, why I was like that, and the benefits of being where I was in my life — because it is in the looking back that we learn our most valuable lessons.

So here are the 6 things I learned about life going wrong — and why those lessons helped me get to where I am now. 

1. I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING.

As much as I wanted to be in control of everything all the time, I still could not predict what would happen next, no matter how hard I tried. I would give up well before I even gave something a try, never giving myself a chance to succeed. More often than not, when I expected crappy things to happen, that’s exactly what happened. What I didn’t realize that the opposite could be true as well. I also came to understand that I have much more to learn and do so every day. 

2. I SHOULD NOT PRE-JUDGE PEOPLE.

Granted when people have hurt us, I believed that I was not worthy of ever finding the “good” people. No one shows up with a sign around their neck that says, ” Don’t waste your time with me. I’m going to treat you like crap and lie behind your back.” Giving people the benefit of the doubt was the only was I could determine what their value was and that meant getting to know them. My presumption was that even if I did find people I liked, they wouldn’t stick around for long anyway. However, sometimes, the best people end up being the only ones you need and you realize that you never would have found them if you had gone looking for them.

3. CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.

I had become so predicated to living a certain way that it was the what I expected. I’m a planner and when things didn’t go “as planned,” it would throw off my whole day. In some ways, I guess you could sail I stopped fighting the wind and learned to adjust my sails. However, life doesn’t ever stay the same and if I accepted that change meant “different” not bad, then I could learn to deal with even the plans I never saw coming. Once I realized that we were all in this never-ending state of flux, I even named my business to reflect that sentiment.
 

4. LIVING WITHOUT FEAR IS A GAMECHANGER.

For too long, I had hid behind a wall, afraid to venture too far outside my comfort zone. The awkward uncomfortableness was always interpreted as something bad, instead of something exciting. Now, I just plow right through whatever scares me and I do it anyway. Once I started purposefully challenging me in ways I never had before, there was no stopping me. Just this year, I did a tandem sky jump (from 10,000 feet) and completed a marathon with little training. So my only question is…what’s on my list for 2017?
 

5. POSITIVITY BREEDS PEACE.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but negativity is full of worry and chaos. I am much too old to need to have MORE to do in my life. There is something to be said when we notice the “vibes” and energy other people are giving off. What was once something that seemed insignificant and unassuming becomes something you notice right away and it can immediately change the power you feel as well. Plus, the more people create an environment of inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment, the better I feel — regardless of what is in front of me. In simple terms, it’s just good stuff.
 

6. PERSPECTIVE CHANGES EVERYTHING.

Even the way we think matters. Those thoughts become our vocabulary and those words guide our actions. Once I realized how everything was tied together, my entire mindset began to shift. For example, what was once only seen a flat tire became a teaching moment (see #3 again for a reference) when I could be appreciative of the spare in my trunk. I also began to understand the connection between my attitude and my effort — they mirrored one another. In order for me to change one, I needed to change the other. It allowed me to view things from many different angles, forcing my line of sight to adjust as well. When we truly SEE something instead of looking at it, we can look at something and see quite different things. 
 
Having an optimistic mindset is not something I was born with and it took me years to become aware of the negativity I was carrying. Before, I would have thrown up the surrender flag as quickly as possible, just to avoid the confrontation. Now, I am in that fight until the fight is over, and believe me, I will not go quietly.
 
So, maybe my view of the world needed to be a little shaded before I could step out into the light. Now, I have seen both and I can tell you, I prefer this side so much better. Doubts sometimes creep in from time to time, but I will forever be a believer in everything life has to offer, what I can bring to it, and how none of us have ever been hurt by having a little hope from time to time.
Michelle A. Homme 2016©

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