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Are you an optimist? Wednesday August 26, 2015

A friend of mine was cycling home from work on Friday and got knocked off his bike. It was a bad crash. He has a broken ankle, stitches in his head and stitches in his hand as well as many other scratches and bruises.

He's from Latvia. He's a Marine Engineer and had been working in Dover for the last few years on the ferries. He decided he'd like to better himself and get promotion but to do this he had to take a two day Engineering Management exam. So he quit his job and started working in a factory so that he could earn some money to pay for the exam which was expensive and have some time to do the studying he needed to do before hand.

He took the exam and is waiting for the results, but continues to work in the factory until he finds out whether he has passed. It's hard work for him and he gets paid very little compared to what he is used to, but he thinks it's worth it to be able to return to work in the future as a manager.

I always thought, it must be hard for him, but he was always cheerful and positive and looking forward to the future.

Then this accident. My heart went out to him. What bad luck at a time when there wasn't really a lot of good going on in his life.

I phoned him today to see how he was, thinking he must be so frustrated, angry and fed up, not able to work or even go out. I was going to console him.

But no. My friend really is an optimist. He said he was absolutely fine. He was looking on the bright side. Perhaps it happened because someone from up above was telling him to slow down a bit. If he'd had the accident at some time in the future, he wouldn't have been able to start his new job so it was lucky it happened now. He said he wasn't quite as good looking because of the stitches on his head, but they would mend and then he'd look good again. He talked about how he had met some lovely people in the hospital and thanked me for my support. The only thing he felt sad about was the lady that had hit his bicycle - she was so upset!

I am amazed at how positive he is. It has shown me that you really can choose how you react to events. I would have definitely been frustrated, angry and fed up. I would have been miserable - he hurts a bit, but he's happy. Worth thinking about isn't it?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Debs Wed, Aug 26th 2015 @ 6:50am

Hi Shannon, thanks for this and I know lots of people like this too - friends who just bounce back again and again! I wonder if the only difference is what they tell themselves in their head? My (anateur!) theory would be that optimists have incredible self-esteem and tell themselves positive things whereas those of is inclined to low moods have lower self-esteem and tend to use negative self talk (why did that have to happen to me? That kind of thing always happens? I'm a failure etc.) And that can change - it takes work but I'm looking at my self talk and talking back ;-) Hopefully, the result will be a happier, more optimistic me! With love, Debs xxx

Lex Wed, Aug 26th 2015 @ 7:26am

Thanks for sharing, Shannon. In public, I'm quite upbeat and bouncy. I'm often asked if I'm an optimist. My reply is, "I hope so!" (Apologies to Bill Bailey, the comedian, for pinching his joke there!)
Yes, Debs, I think (my own amateur theory) that optimists look at the world through a different set of filters and ask different questions. Instead of, "Why me?" they ask questions like, "What could be good about this?" or "What can I learn from this?" or "How can this serve my higher purposes? - How can I use this?"
Our Latvian friend shows something I adore about him: compassion for the lady that had hit his bicycle. Being focused on others really works as a strategy for him, and I admire that.

Hopeful One Wed, Aug 26th 2015 @ 8:02am

Hi Shannon - thanks for highlighting the choice we all face when confronted with a life event and the choice we face of interpreting it. We could focus on the negative or positive aspect of that event. I think individuals who focus on the positive believe firmly that a bad event happened to them not because of who they are. This self belief or call it self esteem or self worth is a crucial factor as Debs mentions in her post. This positive approach my not necessarily produce a positive out come but optimists generally have a happier experience of life than the pessimists.

Jen Wed, Aug 26th 2015 @ 9:10am

Thanks for sharing his story. I am going to think a lot about this today. I think this is also a lot about gratitude. There are people who will never know the sheer joy of owning the bike, wind rushing through past your face, some people are not able to access care they need from health services etc. I read a quote once but cannot remember here sorry but stuck with me about even your worst days would be welcomed by some in the circumstances they find themselves. My husband says I use the "some people" notion a lot but it reminds me to be grateful. Im still working on the optimism! Thanks again. Lets hope he gets that job soon x

Adrian Wed, Aug 26th 2015 @ 11:04am

A lot to think about.
Always looking for the good and positive in events instead of assuming the negative is an amazing skill.
I think to some extent it can be learned. As difficult as it seems but even a nudge in that direction might help.
Thanks Shannon.

Terri Wed, Aug 26th 2015 @ 1:57pm

Thanks for such an uplifting story! It put a positive spin on my morning.

Julia Wed, Aug 26th 2015 @ 4:22pm

I like the way you write Shannon, your style etc. I think I am both an optimist and pessimist, it depends what I am thinking about really. I am not sure how I would be, faced with the same problems your friend is having to cope with but knowing me, I would probably have to tell myself to think positively as it wouldn't come naturally.

Libby Thu, Aug 27th 2015 @ 10:32pm

Loved this story, but I'm not sure I would want him around during a depressive episode. LOL

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