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To: K-list
Recieved: 2000/06/23 16:23
Subject: Re: [K-list] Learned Optimism.
From: Ckress

On 2000/06/23 16:23, Ckress posted thus to the K-list:

In a message dated 06/23/2000 12:41:36 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
ravensdawnATnospamearthlink.net writes:

<< Upbeat, creative thinking isn't an easy thing for some people to grasp
and it's
 never been an easy thing for me to explain to those who are always bummed out
 .... not the textbook "depressive disorder, needs lithium" types (something
 didn't feel right when I typed that), but the beaten down, cynical, skeptical
 folks. What can you do? >>

On further reflection, I think I'm an optimistic pessimist, meaning I always
find ways to make the best of what seems to be a bad situation, LOL! I come
from what may be an unusual background. My father was a pessimist and my
mother an optimist. Both of them were emotionally abusive to each other and
the rest of our family. My mother was physically abusive to me too, while I
never saw my father raise a hand to hurt anyone. He was a very ethical
person, capable of tender displays of compassion. My mother lacked empathy,
tenderness and was a bit short on ethics. To everyone outside the family,
she appeared to be a pleasant, happy person. I spent my childhood watching
her justify everything she did with her unflagging optimism. It was OK to
beat your kid because kids won't remember it anyway and everything will turn
out merry and bright in the end. She convinced herself that we were a happy
family, somehow managing not to factor in that I was suicidal, my sister was
an emotional wreck and my father was an alcoholic.

It took me nearly 30 years to learn that not every pessimist had my father's
integrity and gentle soul, and not every optimist was a self-deluded fiend
secretly torturing small children behind closed doors. I eventually met some
inspiring and admirable healthy optimists, and some stab-you-in-the-back
pessimists, as well as some trustworthy, sensitive and insightful pessimists
and other optimists as vapid and two-faced as my mother had been.

Time has changed my mother considerably. She's matured into a kinder, less
pollyanna-ish optimist. She used to have implicit trust of all authority
figures... very detrimental for my brother and sister and I, all of whom were
subjected to unnecessary and damaging medical procedures because "The doctor
knows what you need." Now she's mad to learn she didn't really need the
hysterectomy that nearly killed her and left her with permanent residual
physical problems. And after reading in her local newspaper a series of
articles about the behind-the-scenes political intrigues of the war in
Vietnam, she was shocked to learn that the US government hasn't always been
honest Abe. "The government lied to us!" she kept exclaiming to me every
time I talked to her. Welcome to the real world, Ma.

For all that, she seems to bear out the research that optimists hold up
better into old age than pessimists do. She's still interested in life and
expects to live to be 100. My father, who is 83, has spent the past 20 years
awakening each morning and pretty much thinking to himself, "Am I dead yet?
Damn, I guess not." It's a lot harder for him, especially because he's an
atheist with no faith in anything spiritual.




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