Prolepsis

I learned a new word today. Prolepsis is seeing the reality you’d like to have in the world. It’s anticipating. It’s a Greek word that means, literally, “a taking beforehand”.

Debaters use it to address rebuttals that haven’t happened yet. “I know you’ll say this, but…”

People use it to budget and plan for the future.

Writers use it to flash forward.

I don’t consider myself a particularly optimistic person. I see optimism as magical thinking. Optimists seem to have to overlook certain starker realities in order to maintain their worldview. To me, the difference between optimism and prolepsis is that optimists assume that the future is going to be full of rainbows and unicorns, but they do nothing to make it so.

On the other hand, prolepsis is more about having that vision, and then working toward bringing it about. I envision a world where we use a lot more green energy and the environment is all the better for it. But I don’t think it’s just automatically going to occur. A lot of scientists have to come up with ways to make this happen, and the stupid politicians will then have to be convinced that it’s more important than getting money from the fossil fuel lobby. (Vote!)

Prolepsis is all about being the change you want to see in the world. One of my favorite dear readers (Hi, Lyn!) once said, “What we don’t change, we choose.”

I couldn’t agree more. But making different choices to make a change, in many cases, has to do with anticipating the consequences of those choices. And that type of forward thinking is impossible if you don’t make room for a little prolepsis.

Practice prolepsis every chance you get. Don’t get caught up in the Trumpian negativity. Don’t think that the world is going to go to sh** if we don’t build walls and fear everything that is different from ourselves. Instead, think, “Yes, we can.” And then imagine what that would look like. And then do something to make it happen.

Let’s imagine that door, and then pave the long and winding road that will lead to it. Make the world a gift we want to receive. Onward!

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Gratitude, Not Optimism

I happen to love someone who is the most positive person I have ever met. It’s a delight to be around most of the time, but it’s also a hard yardstick to be measured by. Anyone standing next to this guy will automatically look like Eeyore by comparison.

Fortunately, I’m secure in the knowledge that I’m not, in fact, Eeyore, because I used to live with an Eeyore. An Eeyore can suck the life out of any room he enters. An Eeyore is convinced that the world is out to get him.

My Eeyore refused to smile in photographs because he thinks it’s unnatural. Because of that, everyone assumes he is constantly miserable. I think he wears this like some kind a suit of armor. Then he accessorizes this suit of armor with every negative experience he has ever had in his life. He glues those things to his exterior like some twisted decorator crab. All this stuff weighs him down. This makes people avoid him, which, in turn, makes him more miserable.

An Eeyore likes to insult himself out loud, and is under the mistaken impression that others will find this funny or charming. In fact, it makes people extremely uncomfortable. It also makes them feel sorry for him. It’s very hard to like someone whom you feel sorry for, at least for long stretches of time. It’s exhausting.

When I tried to address this negativity in my Eeyore, he would get very defensive, and accuse me of trying to force him to put a plastic smile on his face. I could never understand that. I was trying to say that your attitude, the lens through which you view the world, impacts your emotions. Attitude is everything.

But now I realize he extrapolated a false conclusion from that. He believed that I was trying to force him toward optimism, which is nearly impossible to achieve if you don’t come by it naturally (speaking from personal experience).

Actually, that was not my intention at all. Optimism is about expectations for the future. I don’t think you can predict the future, and therefore optimism kind of feels like magical thinking to me. I hope for the best, yes, but no one knows what will happen down the road. As we’ve learned from all the false election fraud claims, wishing doesn’t make it so.

Instead of optimism, what I was trying to get across, rather ham-handedly, it seems, is the notion of gratitude. Gratitude focuses on the present. It’s about appreciating the good you currently have in life, rather than focusing on the negative aspects. This is more realistic, but it also seems a bit magical in the best sense of the word, because when you give more energy to the good that is around you now, somehow more of your future tends to become positive as a result.

I wish I had tried harder to get this point across to my Eeyore. But in retrospect I realize that he was too heavily invested in his own unhappiness to hear me. I’m sure he’s still unhappy to this day, and that makes me sad to contemplate.

To hell with optimism, frankly. But gratitude is an extremely valuable commodity. It might take some practice, but it’s a state of mind that is available to all of us. I may not always be Little Mary Sunshine, but I am grateful for so many things that it has been known to bring tears of joy to my eyes. That’s a gift I keep being given.

Gratitude, like negativity, tends to perpetuate itself. And gratitude allows you to smile in photographs. Which is another thing to be grateful for. See how that works?

This may be great camouflage, but in the end, you’re having
to carry a bunch of crap everywhere you go.

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A Brief Pause for Optimism

I have been sick as a dog and I haven’t seen the sun in weeks, so it wouldn’t surprise me if my blog posts have tended more toward the dark side of late. I wouldn’t be surprised, but I can’t work up the energy to look, so I’ll just cover my bases and extend my apologies. Rest assured that I will snap out of it eventually.

In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to check out my blog post entitled, “Congratulations, You’re Alive!” I think it’s one of my most optimistic and upbeat posts, and it’s one I revisit quite often to remind myself how lucky I am. It also happens to be included in my first book, which is all about gratitude, and is guaranteed to put a little extra spring in your step, just in case you’ve noticed that your steps haven’t been quite as springy of late.

I’ll just end on that note, while I desperately cast about for an unused tissue. Oh, and here’s a bit of sunshine to brighten your day. Tra la!

Sunshine

Making Plans

When you make plans for the future, you’re demonstrating a delightful amount of optimism. Because life is fragile. It can pop like a soap bubble at any time. I’ve seen that happen more than once.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

Sorry, John. You know I love you. But I disagree. I think life is making plans. The alternative, making no plans at all, or sitting back and letting the world kind of wash over you, is a form of death.

We are not meant to live like moss on a tree. The fact that we feel the need for religion shows that we struggle with accepting fate. I don’t think we are meant to be so accepting. We are meant to be the architects of our own lives.

Plans give you purpose. Purpose is what makes life worth living. I find the best antidote for depression is having something to look forward to.

Even more evidence of optimism is making plans with someone. It says, “We’re in this for the long haul.” “I have great expectations for us.” “You are the person I want to spend time with.” “I have faith in our relationship.”

The only thing I can think of that’s better than anticipating your future is anticipating your future while holding someone’s hand.

planning-for-future

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Free-Floating Fury

Right around the time that Trump got elected, I noticed that I was using the “angry” icon in response to a lot of my friend’s Facebook posts about what was happening. I don’t think of myself as an angry person in general, but so many outrageous things are going on in the world these days that it’s hard not to react with a bit of ire. At the time, though, I thought I could afford to be angry.

This situation is an anomaly, right? Surely it won’t last long. Surely our collective anger will force politicians to act with more integrity, even if it isn’t sincere on their parts. And if anger is what it takes to get me up and moving and protesting and trying to improve things, then so be it.

But very recently, I’ve noticed a shift within me. I’m not using the “angry” icon as much. Now I’m using the “sad” icon. I’m tired. I’m starting to get cynical. I’m starting to think we can’t force people to do the right thing. They have an agenda that is not going to budge, in spite of its destructive insanity. I think I underestimated just how immovable this evil force would be.

So now my anger comes out in other ways. In the privacy of my car, I find myself cursing at stupid drivers. I am suffering fools even less gladly than in days of yore. I’m fidgeting more. I’m eating more pizza and ice cream. None of these things are positive shifts, but I’m frankly feeling powerless and bitter. It feels like the bad guys are winning.

I know now that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and one should pace oneself, but I’m running out of ideas, energy, and optimism. I don’t know what to do anymore. And that’s what they want. So maybe I really should go back to being angry.

It’s hard to live in a world where “sad” and “angry” seem to be your only two choices. I need more “like”, “love”, “ha ha”, and “wow” in my world.

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Raise Your Head

I used to know someone who was so pessimistic that it was draining to be in his presence. I’m not exactly Little Mary Sunshine myself, but I do have a fundamental philosophical difference with that guy that we were never able to resolve. I believe your attitude can dictate your mood. He believes that you have no control over your mood whatsoever. He used to say, “I’m not going to paint a plastic smile on my face.” It made me want to slap the white off his teeth.

I really felt sorry for him. He constantly gave away his power. It was as if he was this helpless creature to whom happiness or sadness was bestowed, and he had no choice in the matter. It kind of makes you understand why some people make sacrifices to their higher power. If you have no control, the only thing you can do is cajole, flatter and beg. How exhausting.

In fairness, it must be much easier to keep your head firmly planted in your hind end like that. Then you don’t have to take any responsibility for the way your life turns out. But on the other hand, if you raise your head and look about you, you have the opportunity to see your situation in comparison with others who are worse off than you are. You have a chance to shift your focus. You learn how to solve problems, and most of all, you see the abundance that is spread before you.

This Thanksgiving, if at no other time, raise your head. Be grateful. Appreciate your unique life. Smile often. Who knows? It just might become a habit.

you-got-this

Changing My Favorite Color

When I was little, if you asked me to choose a favorite color I would have said purple without hesitation. Purple, purple, purple. Everything around me had to be purple if possible. I didn’t care if it was a pastel or a dark rich shade, as long as it was purple.

Then, sometime around age 10, I began to get a more refined sense of color, and realized I didn’t really like just any purple. No. Lavender was my color, and that has been the case until very recently. A female who likes lavender. How cliché.

But in the past year I have been going through some changes that have caused me to get to know myself on a much deeper level, and all of a sudden a pale washed out lavender isn’t for me. No. I am a lilac woman. I think I have been all along. I just didn’t have the courage to own it.

But I suspect my life is about to be flipped upside down, and frankly, I’d welcome that. Things haven’t been ideal of late. So I started to cast about for ways to jump start some changes.

I began thinking about color. What if your color choice is based on your personality? But which comes first? Does your personality dictate your color choice, or does color influence who you are? I do notice that certain colors bring out certain feelings in me.

Recently I got a new laptop and had a choice of colors. I could have chosen purple, but I chose red. For some reason I really had to have red. And that surprised me because I’ve never liked red. I don’t wear red, and it’s not a big part of my life. Red actually makes me uncomfortable. It’s way too “out there” for quiet little me.

And I’ve been noticing yellow a lot recently. Yellow makes me smile. I think I need more yellow in my life. Again, this is a color I’ve always avoided. Not only because I look jaundiced when I wear it, but also because it’s a bit too perky, a bit too upbeat. Ironically I just realized it’s exactly opposite purple on the color wheel, too. Interesting.

In the process of writing this entry, I came across this website: http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com and it talks about the various personality traits that are associated with certain colors. Sure enough, the description for purple fits me to a T. It’s actually kind of eerie. All but two comments about purple people, for better or for worse, match me perfectly.

The website also mentions some other interesting theories. It says:

“If you have changed your personality color, or favorite color, try to identify the circumstances surrounding your life at that time as your new favorite will reflect qualities you need to attract into your life to help you deal with those circumstances.”

“The colors you dislike can tell you a lot about yourself as well, often reflecting your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Your most disliked color will relate to areas in your life that need to be given attention or past hurts that need to be healed. It is a good idea to try to incorporate a small amount of your disliked colors into your life by using them in clothing or underwear or in your home, to help balance your energies. Rejecting whole colors can create imbalances in your life.”

So next I looked at their descriptions of yellow and red, to find out what I need from them.

From yellow I need enthusiasm for life, confidence and optimism. It also brings clear thinking and quick decision making. Being drawn to yellow means I have a deep need for logical order. Amen to that. My dislike of yellow up to this point means that I’ve been unable to cope with change, and am not impulsive or spontaneous. Again, right on target.

Red is the color of extroversion and optimism. I could use both qualities. If I’m drawn to red right now it means I have a need for fulfillment and satisfaction and I want to experience life through the five senses. Yes! Yes! Yes! My aversion to it up to now means that I’ve been under stress and couldn’t cope with the excitement and high energy that red generates. It also means I find anger a difficult emotion to handle. God, yes.

It also says that if you dislike red, “You may want more excitement, energy and passion in your life but are afraid, for some reason, or lack the self-confidence, to get involved and open yourself to the possibilities red can bring to you.” And “You may have suffered rejection or defeat at an early age and don’t believe you can ever win.” Well, holy crap.

Okay, that’s it. I’m bringing more red and yellow into my life. Yes, I’m sure I’ll always be inherently lilac, but what would it hurt if I added a little contrast to my world?

Pillow Fight at Nathan Philips Square in Toronto. May 12, 2007.

[Image credit: http://wvs.topleftpixel.com/07/07/28/ ]

On Going Slightly Mad

The definition of insanity, we’re told, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It could be argued that that’s also the definition of optimism, determination, confidence, naïveté, or just plain stubbornness.

I’ve always assumed that the solution to this is to stop doing the same thing over and over again. Do something different. Try something new. Step out of your comfort zone. Unfortunately, all my attempts to do something different in the past three years have gotten me absolutely nowhere. If anything, I’m worse off.

That leaves two potential avenues for relief. Perhaps I should do the same thing over and over again, and expect the same results rather than different ones. I’m fairly certain that that’s the definition of life. We have our routines. We get in our ruts. Time passes. Life is what happens while you’re making other plans, they say.

Maybe if I just go with the flow, I’ll learn to be more content and enjoy myself a lot more. I’m going to try that for a while.

If that doesn’t work, though, there is one final solution. Embrace the insanity. Stop fighting it. Own it.

I’m kind of hoping that last resort won’t have to be my answer, but who knows? Maybe padded cells are more comfortable than they look.

crazy

[Image credit: waterworldmermaids.com]