Are You an Optimist or Pessimist?

I’m no optimist but my pessimist side stays in the background more and more. Recently, it’s been hard to maintain an even keel due to physical issues and then I suddenly realized something yesterday.

I am survivor. In that I keep going no matter what happens. I find it hard to believe life has to be this hard forever, but I’m not optimistic that it won’t either. So really not an optimistic or pessimist. I believe those labels are detrimental to our well-being even if you include realism as a third option. Instead, let’s talk about how you act on the feelings you have.

The reason why this popped into my consciousness was social media, specifically comments on Facebook. I follow a number of Maine newspapers and other sites dedicated to Maine topics. I had noticed on Facebook, and I have experienced this first hand with face-to-face encounters as well, that there is a consistent strain of Mainer who hates living here or at a minimum has complaints they need to vocalize. (I do not deny this might be the case everywhere but this is my present existence so don’t think I’m picking on just my neighbors!)

Now it’s not uncommon for someone to feel this way about where they live. I will tell you I hated living in Georgia; however, I also found out as a military wife that your location always has its pluses and minuses. I returned to Georgia in 1983 from Germany by choice. At least it was familiar and I had family there. But I never liked it.

I’m also used to being miserable as weird as that might sound. I can truthfully tell you I’ve just not had a good time almost ever. I don’t want to sound off about that in public though. People don’t like whiners and I personally believe that whining alone is detrimental to one’s mental health. The old “if you don’t like it, make it change” type of an attitude.

I’ve never had money, never even reached the middle class income bracket, always made too much for public assistance and we are facing a retirement that we cannot afford without resorting to public assistance once I quit working.

But I’ve owned a home most years except while overseas since I was 25. How is that possible? Because I love pretty things but don’t mind working to get them. I bought, remodeled and sold houses several times just to own a home and then to also make some money off the sale at the end. So we’ve had a better lifestyle because of the work I did to make my dreams a reality.

I have always had trouble with jobs – as a liberal arts major, teacher and writer, attaining a decent income was always hard. Other issues came into play such as I tell the truth and don’t tolerate bullies or organizations who aren’t fond of ethics or morality. The last job I got fired from was the final straw. The day I got fired, we got a contract on the house so I ended up using the sale money in lieu of working full-time. I spent that year learning web design which 20 years later still provides some income.

I’m totally self-taught – I guess you could say I’m the original do-it-yourselfer! I don’t have the money for classes but I’m a super self-starter and willing to tackle anything. That includes house remodeling, graphic design, genealogy and a whole raft of other interesting topics.

outside five guys
Snow icing!

So instead of whining I try to do something about whatever it is that I’m upset about. For example, I hate heat. This southerner cannot tolerate heat. I have always lived in the south/semi-tropical areas except for my months in Germany and a year in Washington state. This physical issue (it is genetic due to my syndrome) gets less tolerable as I age. Virginia was better than Georgia but when it came time to choose our next destination, I threw off those southern chains and moved here, Maine.

That is one of the complaints from Mainers I hear often. They hate the colder weather. I might too if I grew up here so I can’t condemn anyone for that. But really, what good does it do to complain about it if you aren’t willing to go somewhere else? Most people were never aware of my heat problem. I did not complain about it; I just stayed in the air-conditioning. When I got the opportunity and freedom to move north, I did.

I know that folks are giving me those buts already. But I can’t afford to move, but I don’t know where to go (besides Florida or Arizona), but my family is here. I just had someone tell me he assumed we had a lot of money since we just moved up here. Ha. No, we lost our last house in the recession. It took 10 years to save up enough money to be able to move out of Charlottesville, Virginia, (now that’s expensive folks!) and when we did, we were left completely broke.

It was risky, my family (and some Mainers) think I’m nuts, and I have to keep reminding myself I chose to do this when things don’t go the way I want. But I decline to complain and act instead.

My genealogy studies are what led me to Maine. I actually dove into that field as an escape from my mother-in-law’s dementia the year she lived with us. I did complain – in fact was left a wee bit traumatized from it at the time but I found a way to make it better.

Then I found out my family was from Maine. Then I took a house sitting job in Boston to be able to afford to visit New England. Then I fell in love with Maine.

So my “escape mechanism” led me to a better place, physically and mentally.

These are just a few examples from a pessimist who refuses to give up. What can you do to make your life better? First step, stop whining in public!