Posted on November 11th, 2009
Funny how quickly an outlook can change.
As with most people, I imagine, depending on how much sleep I’ve had, how much exercise I’ve gotten, my blood sugar level, how many hugs I’ve recently received, how long I’ve listened to crying that day, the stress levels of my loved ones, etc. etc., my perspective on life sways wildly on the spectrum of optimism.
During the course of today, for example, I have felt like all my dreams are achievable, my Little List o’ Goals will be accomplished, I can make great things happen. I’ll be in great shape and eat all the right foods and my house will be gorgeously neat and cozy and tasteful. I’ll take on new endeavors while maintaining my favourite hobbies and passions. My son is perfect and my husband can do no wrong. Situation like mine, how could I possibly feel anything but contentment and joy?
During the course of today, I have also felt like life is completely overwhelming. Why am I even thinking about my list of goals when I have such a long To Do list of banalities? My son and husband are great, but I just know we’re doing so many things wrong as parents and it’s only a matter of time before they catch up with us. The world is going to hell in a handbasket, and all the work we can possibly do will not stop it. And I will never get the kitchen truly clean again.
I have always had these variations in my outlook. (Mostly they’re not as intense as they seem when blogged out like this… yikes.) I feel fortunate to know myself well enough – and this is almost certainly thanks in a large part to my journal-keeping – to recognize why I get to feeling cynical and party-pooperish. I can look at how things are going and say, “Wow, I really need to eat something and I’ll feel better.” Or, “Time to get out of the house, silly.” Or I can go ask my hubby, who gives the best hugs in the world, for a dose of healing. I know when I’m feeling crappy, it will pass.
There’s depression in my family. I know I could be susceptible. There’s lots of pain in the world and I’m not oblivious nor impervious to it.
I also know I’m an optimist at heart. More importantly, I am a lucky, lucky girl. I have a wonderful life and I am deeply grateful for it.
I’ve debated with myself in the past about happiness. What right do I have being happy when there is so much suffering and misery in the world? vs. What right do I have being upset when I’ve got it so good?
I’ve come to a conclusion about this by figuring out what I would say in the event someone I loved asked me that question. I would advise my friend: Feel what you feel. Life is amazing, and life is hard. Feel great on your great days, and if you’re having a bad day, it’s your right to be blue. No reason to add guilt to that.
Of course, I try to be realistic. I don’t live in a vacuum and I can’t be in a constant state of intense gratitude while attending to the business of life. Similarly, no-one likes a chronic complainer, and I’m determined not to be someone who finds fault with things for no good reason or over-dramatizes when things get rough.
I guess my li’l conclusion for today must be: We’re human, we’re built to feel the full undulations of the spectrum.
And seriously, wouldn’t we we be bored if we didn’t?