Tuesday, January 4, 2011

(Half) full of it

During last night's commute home, I heard a report on the radio that revealed the results from some survey or other (unfortunately I can't find the story on NPR's Web site) claiming that France is the most pessimistic country, while Nigeria claims the No. 1 spot on the optimisim scale. The purported reasoning behind this is that, even now, emerging countries are experiencing economic growth, while developed countries are sunk in the despair of the global recession's aftereffects. In other words, some folks have nowhere to go but up, while others who are seemingly doing ok are nevertheless struggling to simply maintain their standard of living, whether it means giving up daily lattes, eating beans and rice more often, or -- horror of horrors -- having to buy off-the-rack.

In spite of the French blood I've inherited from my paternal grand- grandmère, I believe I am an optimistic individual. But I'm realistic, too. The cup is half full, but it might be half-full of cyanide -- you have to be cautious about these things. What really forces me to be optimistic, though, is being a parent. I remember holding my freshly hatched kid while watching the first Gulf war unfold and despairing over bringing an innocent into this effed-up world. So I worked at making her world a happy one, to the extent possible.

Intellikid had an advantage in that she didn't have a concept of "the way things used to be" for a frame of reference. So many of the (depressed) adults I have known are pining for something that was, having convinced themselves that they'll never be happy because things will never be the same. I've generally been able to believe -- or fool myself into believing -- that change can mean that things will get better. I'm willng to redefine what it means to be happy; I may no longer have the disposable income to visit the massage therapist twice a month, but I still have the luxury of time to read, and pathetic though it may seem to some, that makes me happy!

So, like the fellow in the cartoon above, I am feeling a bit optimistic about 2011, but with nothing more stimulating than a good strong cup of coffee to fortify my positive outlook, I know that there will probably be some trying times. Things could get worse. But I'm thinking of my life as more of a roller-coaster ride than a long downward slide.

(Image Source: someecards)


  1. Hope springs eternal, even if the ship springs a leak?

  2. Life is, indeed, a roller-coaster ride. Trouble is, roller-coasters these days don't just go up and down but all around and upside down. Damn! Makes me long for the good old days of up and down. But then again, I was always more of one for the Ferris Wheel.

  3. Yep,
    the glass is half something or other,
    I say bottoms up,
    throw the glass into the fireplace,
    turn around three times,
    spit and say,

    "What's Next"

  4. It is interesting the amount of research that is now being conducted into what make people happy. Surveys such as the one you quote are just one aspect of it.

    Exciting times.

  5. Doug, you know how I feel about boat rides.

    Mr. C - My rollercoaster is one of the old wooden ones, no looping or any of that crazy sh*t! I like Ferris wheels, too. Unfortunately even merry-go-rounds make me dizzy!

    Punch, actually in my family we say "rypas kaveri!" I don't know what it means but it's fun to say.

    Barnes, I'm sure there's some sinister plot behind it all. Something to get us to spend more money that we don't have...

  6. Having children around also raises the mood because their sunny funniness and their frequent needs pull us into the here and now. To the extent that I want things to be the way they were, it's almost entirely made up of missing children and grandchildren. Before the recession, young families moved all over the country for jobs and their retired parents could afford to visit them. Now, so many of those once-mobile families are stuck in place, whether still employed or not, with houses they cannot sell, while parents and grandparents are searching in vain for good deals on air travel.

    I yearn for my optimism in the same way I yearn for my kids and grandkids, hopping on every opportunity to indulge. May there be many more opportunities this year!


And you thought...