Ah the ever optimist.
I like to think that I’m counted in the group of people who are predominantly optimistic. When I wake up, I look forward to the day, to my 1 hour drive from a rural community to an urban area. I look forward to whatever is on my schedule at work for the day, to working alongside my co-workers, lending guidance and support to my clients. I look forward during the day to my trek back home, what I might see along the way, perhaps a good movie or series on the television. I’m thinking about what I’ve got to prepare for supper and looking forward to that, and to spending an evening with my wife and during the evening I even look forward to laying my head down on the pillow and drifting off to the land of sleepys.
Not overly infused with adventure, heart-pounding exercise, amazing highlights worthy of documenting, but days upon days of happy and content moments which multiplied over a period, amass a pretty good life. Sure there are ups and downs from time-to-time, and problems to deal with and things to overcome. It’s not all rosy and sublime, but throughout it all, it’s pretty safe for me to say that I think in the end it all works out, and that it’s good to remember that in the periods of unrest.
Have you ever noticed however that sometimes optimistic people such as me have a curious influence on people we come into contact with? Some genuinely smile just when I walk into their view, and I feel like Norm walking into the bar in Boston named Cheers. “Hey Norm!” everyone turns and then they carry on. Sometimes it’s like that when people look up, smile and say, “Your always in a good mood. Do you ever have a rough day?”
And on the other hand there are people who seem to wake up snarly and ugly, just spoiling for a fight and looking for the least thing to provoke them. Conversations with these people usually start innocently enough with a, “Hey good morning!” to be followed with their, “What’s good about it?” reply. Somehow they don’t appreciate it when I start telling them the many things that are good about it. Hmmm….
“Looks like we’re due for 3 or 4 centimetres of snow this afternoon. Should be a pretty drive home tonight. Be sure to drive safe everybody!” I’ll say as I’m walking into the area where I work during the day. “Really? I hate snow. I just wish we could get snow Christmas eve and Christmas day and then it would disappear for another year”. Ouch. The optimistic attitude rubs the people the wrong way yet again.
Yet overall, I’d say that people appreciate my positive outlook on things. We have a board up in one of the halls at our office called, ‘Keeping it Real’. Your name gets put up for a week with a few other employees and the rest of the staff can go to it and write a little post-it note stating what they like or appreciate about you. Then your name disappears and someone else’s takes your place and you have the chance to return the favour.
In my own case, several people said they liked my happy positive and optimistic attitude. One said they appreciated the fact that I never burdened anyone with my own personal problems – if I have any. And that got me thinking. While it’s true I don’t have major issues and problems regularly, and I’d be hard-pressed to come up with huge issues, I do have minor irritants every so often, but I’ve never felt walking around and sharing those with my co-workers to be appropriate. After all, those are usually personal issues, and I’ve got a partner at home that I work through those things with and it works. Why bring them to work?
But let me ask you a question. Haven’t you had the experience where someone comes in and starts liberally passing around their negativity? They drone on about catastrophes that in reality aren’t any big deal. Such as, “AHHHHHH! I couldn’t believe it! Do you know on the way in today I had four red lights! Four! It didn’t matter how fast I drove to the next light, it turned red just as I got near it! And then I stopped at a drive-thru to get a large coffee with milk and they gave it to me with sugar and milk! I had to stop and go back and say, Excuse me, do you know what I ordered here? This is not acceptable”.
I think I’d rather be seen as the person in the office whose upbeat and positive. It generally gets me surrounded by people on a regular basis who are likewise positive. That doesn’t mean we can’t share our frustrations, we just know they’ll work out and generally see them for what they are, not more than they are.
I’d go so far in this post to suggest that if your work requires you to work with other people, that you try to conduct yourself with more optimism and positivity. Not necessary to be at the extreme end and be phony, but if you’ve got to lean one way or the other, choose optimism. It does a mind and body good!