Learning to Be a Cockeyed Optimist
I come from a family of singers. My parents both sing; I sing (or at least sang); my sister tried to sing. 🙂 Our house was always filled with music as my parents rehearsed for a Barbershop show, or church choir, or the local chamber chorus. I took voice lessons and was in the school musicals so I would toss some Broadway and Italian art songs into the mix. When we were younger, my sister and I would sing into our hair brushes and put on shows for my parents, singing along with our 45s! One of the tunes I remember my mom singing for some occasion is called “Cockeyed Optimist.” It is from the musical South Pacific. For those of you who are not familiar with that particular show, I suggest you hop over to Netflix and see if you can find it. But for our purposes, I have included the video of this song below.
Now why in the heck am I sharing some 1958 show tunes?
I have mentioned before that I suffer from anxiety and depression. Most days it is well-managed and feel good. But there are some days when I feel like I am in a downward spiral. [No, I don’t start spouting show tunes, at least not this one. Though now that I think of it that may help!] When I start to feel this way, I get nervous. I know from past experience that these spirals can be quick and fairly painless, or they can last months and be very dark and troubling. I am always looking for tools that I can use to keep from feeling like I am just holding on to the edge of a pit with my fingernails.
One such tool landed in my inbox. I subscribe to the Daily Om. A few weeks ago, the topic was “Starting from Empty.” In it, the author discussed half-full consciousness and what happens when we approach life with a half-full outlook as opposed to a half-empty one. When we see the glass (or our life) as half empty, we approach it with a sense of lack and entitlement. When we approach it with a half-full outlook, we are grateful for what we have. We may still strive for other things, but we don’t seek it with a sense of lack. Our sense of fullness draws positive energy to us and attracts abundance. (Though I never read it, I believe this is similar to the philosophy behind The Secret.)
I am spiritually open to the idea that the universe sends us what we put out into it. I firmly believe that if we send goodness and positivity out, we will get the same in return. That being said, I do know that bad things do happen to good people and I am sure they are not putting bad things out there. I won’t pretend to have the answers to these mysteries. But I will say, where is the harm in living and thinking more positively, with a half-full attitude?
Have you ever had to spend the day with a pessimist or someone who will complain about anything just to complain? Draining, isn’t it? Now imagine if your inner voice did the same thing. You wouldn’t want to hang around with yourself very long, would you? 🙂
When I was at a particularly low point in my early 20s, I remember my mom told me to think of five things each day that made me smile. Some days that was easy. Some days I felt like there were none. But slowly, over the course of months, I found myself finding more and more things in my life that made me smile. Little things, sure, but they made me smile. And a smile can flood your system with endorphins and those endorphins can go a long way toward helping you find the way out of your dark times.
I try to approach each day and each person I see with a smile and a positive attitude. I am an expert when it comes to hiding those downward spirals from the world at large. This is one of my tools. Try it the next time you are feeling like you are living under a cloud, or want to curl into a ball and just hide from the world. Try it the next time you are feeling empty or seeing lack in your life. The idea of simply trying to see the glass as half-full doesn’t sound like it could turn your life around. It’s too easy. But sometimes the simplest answers are the right ones. And maybe you will even start believing it!