Monday, 19 January 2009

Optimism and Health

One of the reasons that I wanted to become more optimistic is that I felt that it would help me to get out and socialise more. At the moment my social life is pretty good. I'm part of an excellent social club which gives me the oppertunity to meet new people almost every day if I wanted to. I have my Buddhist community which takes up some of my time and has a social side to it too. I'm also trying to make friends with people in the block of flats I live in so I'm mixing with my neighbours.

So far so good. The problem is however that my health isn't cooperating. I have a fairly common stomach condition which often makes me feel tired and lathargic, makes me vulnerable to stomach bugs and has side effects which stop me going out. It's frustrating because I can't be out there as much as I would like and this past week I've had to cancel a few things that I would have otherwise really loved to attend. 

I suppose this is one of the limits of optimism. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak!

On Saturday night I sat at home. I was supposed to be at a big party and had been looking forward to it for a while. My resolution of being optimistic couldn't do much to change the situation, I couldn't positively think myself into having the strength to go out on the town.

What optimism did do was take the edge off. I found myself focusing on what I could do with my unexpectedly unallocated free time and to stave off boredom I played on my Wii. Animal Crossing in case you were wondering. I earnt some serious Bells that night. 

Again I was surprised at the difference that just a little bit of positive thinking could make. It's not like I sat on the sofa with a great big grin on my face enjoying every moment. I just that instead of feeling completely sorry for myself I just sort of shrugged my shoulders and went 'oh well'. I think that it helped me to relax a bit more and all in all I did actually have a pretty good time. 

Next time, optimism and other harsh realities!

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Optimism and realism

So, I'm a few weeks in to my challenge and what has changed?

I've actually been surprised by how much of a differance trying to be more optimistic has made. I hoped of course that it would when I first set out on this challenge, otherwise I wouldn't have done it, but what has surprised me is the amount of benefit I have recieved from really not changing much at all.

At the moment I don't really feel like an optimist. I'm still the same negative self doubting person that I ever was. However I'm now more mindful about behaving more optimistically and at least paying lip service to the notion of being more optimistic. 

For example I'm becoming more optimistic at work and this has helped me with one of my main work difficulties which I like to call 'Outlook tasks depression syndrome'. I'm sure many of you have experianced this. You boot up your computer and look at your task list for the day and you realise that it is both incredibly long and full of many annoying, awkward and difficult things. You'd like to switch off your computer and have a little sleep under you desk but this isn't allowed and jobs are scarce right now. So you reavaluate your list and those jobs that are annoying and which you don't really have to do today get put off to the next day. This provides a temporary high but its a negative spiral as the next day you have twenty annoying things to do instead of ten. 

I still suffer from Outlook tasks depression syndrome. On the inside, believe me, I'm making a noise that sounds a bit like uuuugghhghhhahhhhgrrrnnn when I look at my task list. Then however being mindful of my challenge I say to myself 'Hey, you actually like your job, and this task won't be as annoying as it seems. Just get on with it right away.' So with a forced grin I get on with whatever difficult and irritating thing it is I have to do. 

To my surprise this has made a huge difference. I really believed that I would have to feel optimistic on the inside before I saw any change but it turns out you can just talk the talk and that seems to be enough to get some results. Getting through all the difficult little tasks at work has given me a sense of empowerment and fulfilment. I apologise for that horribly cheesy and self help book sounding sentence, but it's true. As a result of being at least outwardly optimistic and telling myself that I can complete those awkward little tasks I've got loads done and freed up time to involve myself more in the work stuff that I actually enjoy. I also feel more calm and in control and knowing that my list is in order. 

I'm now hoping to apply that attitude to my love life. After a break of some months from the dating scene I've launched myself back into the world of internet match making. Unfortunately the scene is just as ruthless and soul destroying as I remember it. The dating scene is a shelled and war torn landscape of rejection and suffering surrounded by a minefield of self doubt and bad memories. I've only been enlisted again for a week but already this trooper has been hit several times by the 'unacknowledged wink' bullets. This pain has been hightened by the lack of interest shown in my profile despite my uploading several nice new photos and I've been walking wounded, wondering if I'm hideously ugly and unappealing and that I've just never realised it. 

Despite this I have been mindful of my 2009 challenge and have decided to be optimistic about the whole thing. It's hard to keep a smile on your face during such a battle but I do so by keeping two things in mind. The first is that inside the horror of the internet dating scene there is the odd fantastically mind blowing comedy moment such as the man I encountered who on his profile boasted that 'I like sex and have no criminal record, in this country' and the 62 year old who was looking for a women between 18 and 25. Ewww. 

The second thing is that, hopefully, something good will come out of it and I might just meet the person who is right for me. 

It wasn't either of the two I mentioned above, in case you were wondering.

Well that's all for today. Next time I'll be blogging about optimism, realism and health. 

Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, 3 January 2009

New Year's resolutions

So 2009. Already it's a bit depressing isn't it? The weather is freezing, the fun of the holiday season is over and there isn't much on the TV. It doesn't feel like we have much to look forward to, does it?  We are all holding our collective breath and crossing our digits that the economy doesn't get so bad that we lose our jobs. Shops are closing all around us and you feel guilty for spending in the ones that are still open anyway. All the magazines and news channels are filled with stories of how to 'eat well for less' and 'save £££' which just seems a bit sad and like too much hard work.

So how am I going to get through the dark days of the New Year? Normally at this time of year I'm in a pretty good mood because I've made some resolution or other. The joy of renewal and the hope for change gives me a buzz. The only problem is that the buzz never lasts because I give up so quickly.  One year my resolution was that I was going to eat healthily and loose weight. I think that one lasted two days. Another year I was going exercise. I didn't. I think last years was that I was going to take pride in my appearance and never leave the house without my makeup done but that didn't last as my fellow shoppers in my local supermarket will attest to today. Although that is in part due to the eye infection I've picked up. Red streaming eyes and running mascara are not a good look.

I don't just make resolutions at New Year either, I do them all through the year at different stages and I always break them after a day or two.  It doesn't help that as a Buddhist I have two New Year's the western calendar of 1st Jan 2009 and the Buddhist calendar which is lunar and where New Year falls sometime in January or February.  

I can't blame all these failed resolutions on my religion however, I've been behaving like this long before I even knew the Buddhist calendar existed. Probably every night I lie in bed and think of what my life should be like and how I'm going to change it. In the dark my plans are crystal clear but when I get up the next day it doesn't happen. I find some excuse or something crops up and the dream is abandoned. Years ago after watching Rocky Horror I made myself a bracelet with beads which displayed the initials DDIBI. This stood for Don't Dream It, Be It.  Even back then I knew that I had good ideas but that I wasn't putting them into practice. I'd identified my problem but I still couldn't resolve it. I don't even know what happened to the bracelet. 

Recently with the help of a few articles I've read I've come to realise that the problem is my attitude. I'm not an optimist. It came as something of a surprise to me because I had previously always believed I was. I'm a pretty cheerful person. I believe in the good of humanity. I even believe that my job is worthwhile which is a darn sight more optomistic then most people. 

The thing is though, is that I'm not an internal optimist. I don't believe that I can change, I don't believe that I have the strength to change and really deep down I don't believe I'm worth the change. I don't know why. I have reasonable good self esteem or so I thought. I'm from a loving and supportive family so I don't know why I feel this way and I don't know how this negative attitude has become a part of my life. Maybe everyone is like this and perhaps it's part of the human condition. 

Whatever the reason I have decided that changing my negative attitude will be my resolution for 2009 because I believe that if I can change my attitude other areas of my life will fall into place. Or even if nothing changes I believe that the way I experiance it will be different. 

So I'm saying good bye to 'I can't' and hello to 'I can'. 

From today I am good enough.

And from today I'm going to be keeping this blog so that I can keep a track of my optimism and hopefully helping anyone who happens upon it to be more optimitic too. 

In in that optimitic frame of mind I'm going to sign off now because I have to get ready to go out to a social event. The new positive me sees this as a great oppertunity to meet new people and to have some fun and is ignoring the negative me that says its too cold and that I won't enjoy it. 


The hopeful optimist.