I awoke yesterday morning in pain and with no energy, I suffered a set back, I had regressed. What does that mean. I have reverted, retrogress, relapse, lapse, backslide, go backwards, slip back, drift back, subside, sink back; deteriorate, decline, worsen, degenerate, get worse, fall, fall off, fall away, drop, ebb, wane, slump; informal go downhill, go to pot, go to the dogs;. ANTONYMS progress, improve.
So I deteriorated, went to the dogs, backslided, and ebbed. Gone was my optimism, my sense of hope . This mood of utter pessimism allowed me to face a truth that I was hiding from myself. I did face it, it was devastating but I can go on and will go on. Do remember the Beckett insight: “I can’t go on. I must go on. I will go on”
What is that thing called pessimism? It has two parallel definitions: 1 a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen. (The dispute cast an air of deep pessimism over the future of the peace talks.) Also: A belief that this world is as bad as it could be or that evil will ultimately prevail over good.
That is how I felt yesterday: that evil will ultimately prevail over good. But somehow, I awoke this morning feeling my usual optimistic self. PHEW! In more than one way, good has been prevailing over evil, even though evil is very well funded. It always is, evil is always well-funded but somehow good wins out. It is enough to make you believe in God.
Then along comes this magic, provided through NPR Health. “Some weeks are especially tough, even for those with rosy outlooks. Still, optimism can be learned, researchers say, and they’ve found new reasons for us all to try. A recent Boston study found that people who tend to be optimistic are likelier than others to live to be 85 years old or more—and that’s after taking into account all the other factors that can limit or lengthen lifespan. What is the key? No one’s sure, but researchers suspect the way optimists regulate their response to stress plays a role. It’s well known that unrelieved stress is hard on the heart, liver and gut.”
That is such good news for me, particularly since I have a penchant for younger men, much younger men. Penchant: a strong or habitual liking for something or tendency to do something. Used in a sentence: He has a penchant for adopting stray dogs. Well, definitely the stray dog thing is not me but younger men is. Fascinatingly, thunderous music pours from Apple Music as I type. It is in French and I am too lazy to write it all out, but trust be: It Is Dramatic and Powerful.
But back to the study on optimism. The journal Health Psychology has printed a recent study which illustrates eight ways to find joy. Here’s a quick summary of the eight techniques used in Moskowitz’ study:
• Take a moment to identify one positive event each day.
• Tell someone about the positive event or share it on social media. This can help you savour the moment a little longer.
• Start a daily gratitude journal. Aim to find little things you’re grateful for, such as a good cup of coffee, a pretty sunrise or nice weather.
• Identify a personal strength and reflect on how you’ve used this strength today or in recent weeks.
• Set a daily goal and track your progress. “This is based on research that shows when we feel progress towards a goal, we have more positive emotions,” Moskowitz says. The goal should not be too lofty. You want to be able to perceive progress.
• Try to practice “positive reappraisal”: Identify an event or daily activity that is a hassle. Then, try to reframe the event in a more positive light. Example: If you’re stuck in traffic, try to savour the quiet time. If you practice this enough, it can start to become a habit.
• Do something nice for someone else each day. These daily acts of kindness can be as simple as giving someone a smile or giving up your seat on a crowded train. Research shows we feel better when we’re kind to others.
• Practice mindfulness by paying attention to the present moment. You can also try a 10-minute breathing exercise that uses a focus on breathing to help calm the mind.
So, no excuses, just do it. Do not read this blog any more. Just try to cheer up, you gloom and doomers!
The photograph is one of me looking cheerful.