Optimism, Happiness, and the Pursuit of … What?

What a wistful mode I am in these days… My daughters keep urging me to be optimistic and happy, bombarding me with posts that show how much better I’d be if I followed their advice:

** “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”- Maya Angelou

**Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain
http://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/listening-to-complainers-is-bad-for-your-brain.html
Exposure to nonstop negativity actually impairs brain function. Here’s how to defend yourself.

** 12 Things Happy People Do Differently http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=398457360226744&set=a.268587406547074.62897.253220548083760&type=1&theater

And so on and on and on… 😦

I understand all this and realize I’d be much better off if I could follow the advice so sagely given. However, it’s part of my nature (and to a great extent my culture) to dwell on the negative.  In my case, now, even though I do try to be optimistic and happy, it is quite difficult (an understatement, really.)  After having consulted with six doctors (and have a new one lined up for a visit next week), I feel that I will not recover soon. I do not say “never” but I know it will take long, more than the almost four years I have been suffering after surgery.

But I do understand why they care.  It is mainly because they want to see me well, and it is not easy for them to see me so different from when I was well – all 75 years of it.  I’ll be 79 in September, and my wish is to be able to celebrate my 80th birthday feeling better and in new surroundings.  It may happen (see? I am being “cautiously” optimistic!)…

I also understand what they say because I just realized I know one person who is what I call a “whiner” and she irritates me all the time.  I wonder if I also irritate others with my complaining… Maybe that’s one reason for some – many, actually –  to have “disappeared”… But these days I am feeling a bit better, as it is wonderful to have Valeria here, and to see her carrying all those bags and boxes down the stairs, full of books (mostly), clothes (a lot) and miscellaneous (documents that need shredding and cannot be done at home), among other, many other, items!  It is almost impossible to believe how much junk we have accumulated in the 32 years we have been living in this house. That’s the problem of having a large house, and since we won’t have that in San Francisco, it is imperative we close our eyes and give away everything to charities, whenever possible.

Speaking of eyes, Guido had not gone to see the ophthalmologist who specializes in cataracts until recently.  Naturally, he cannot have the much needed surgery until next month. Valeria is leaving on the 25th, but fortunately Rosana can make it and help.  Since I am not allowed to drive, she’ll be able to take him to his cataract surgery twice (one for each eye) and the next day for checking it. Why is it that guys don’t do things when they should???  Valeria is staying here for almost two months…  It was not easy for Rosana to handle the timing, but she managed to do it.  For something like this we cannot ask anybody else’s help!

And I do have help from another quarter – several writers who delight me with their books, and others who help me get busy by allowing me to look over their manuscripts.  Such confidence humbles me.  They don’t realize how much they are helping me, as I rejoice being able to do something productive, even in my retirement. And it is something I relish – books!!!  Together with music, they keep me going … and relatively happy! 😉

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About martisima

After over 50 years of teaching literature to undergraduate and graduate students, I feel I have earned my retirement (it happened when I was 72, five years ago). I do miss the classroom, however, but not the meetings and all other requirements of the profession. I love teaching, and wish I could still do it. But now I read for pleasure, and watch films, and listen to all kinds of music (no TV, though). I love to travel, and hope I can resume doing it soon. I need to get over my health issues caused by thyroid surgery three years ago!
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2 Responses to Optimism, Happiness, and the Pursuit of … What?

  1. Happiness is a practice. For some it comes more naturally, for others it takes more work. It can be difficult, especially when you’re sick! But we’ll keep looking till we find something that makes you well again.

    I know how you feel about working on the books, I feel the same way when writing blog posts!

    One very simple thing to help in the practice of being happy:

    Every morning, think of 3 things you’re grateful for — they can be big or small.
    Every evening, think of 3 good things that happened that day — also can be big or small.

  2. Daughter #2 says:

    Yes, happiness can be difficult, especially when your nature (really, your habit) has been to dwell on the negative. But that’s the whole point. You CAN change your habit. You just have to believe. Just like Natalie Wood in Miracle On 34th Street… “I believe, I believe, it’s silly but I believe” 🙂 We are all here to help you.

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