By Anita Doberman: Columnist
I am always amazed when I meet people who are extremely positive no matter what happens out there. It may pour rain or thunder but nothing can take their smile away.
Whenever I asked these people what their secret is, they often say, that’s just the way I have always been.
Unfortunately, I fall into another category, the often times pessimistic person. Not that I see the world as an awful place but I think about the bad things out there a lot, and sometimes imagine the worse case scenario. Part of it is simply being a writer, spending so much time with thoughts and different characters, sometimes real, sometimes made up in my mind. It’s inevitable to get carried away.
Perhaps it’s a genetic trait or something that comes from the old world, from my hometown. As a little girl I recall my grandparents and my own parents complaining about many depressing stories and the scary possibilities that were out there. They would often go into lengthy discussions about the fact that every time they turned on the TV or opened a newspaper there was some killing or kidnapping or change of government (which was far too often in Italy). And they would eventually plunge into the chances of something happening to us, concluding with warnings for the kids (don’t talk to strangers, wash your hands, and so on).
Some experiences haven’t made it easy to keep a positive outlook. When I moved to New York City and was mugged twice (luckily nothing eventful just someone taking my purse on both occasions). After I became a military spouse I realized all of the possible things that could actually happen to my husband and tried to avoid the news altogether. That was pointless, of course, because every time there is a minor incident involving any type of aircraft in any military branch, numerous relatives called to “let me know” just in case I hadn’t heard about it.
Still I am grateful for so many wonderful things in my life. Sometimes I feel I should have a very sunny and cheerful disposition. It’s not that I am not enthusiastic, but sometimes my enthusiasm becomes a negative way of thinking about the bad stuff.
As I have mentioned before I have seen a therapist, actually many different therapists for most of my adult life (maybe this has contributed to too much thinking) — but hey — my mom and my sister and numerous aunts and uncles are therapists. In my house it’s practically mandatory, sort of like being vaccinated.
After many years of therapy couch — really chair — I have learned to change my way of thinking when it gets to be too negative and to challenge it creatively.
Practicing positive thinking is just like any other form of exercise — it takes practice and determination. Honestly, from one to 10 I am probably a three right now — 10 being the really annoying person who never ever seems annoyed at anything — really the other extreme.
Even little things help to have a positive outlook, like watching “Reba” when I put the kids to bed, or my husband calling me from far away and telling me about the impending crisis: the most important football game of the season not televised on national TV. It makes me laugh and keeps me going. The little things have a way of cascading into bigger ones.
And so every day I count my blessings, big and little. I might still think too much but I have plenty of reasons to smile.