By Fabienne Lopez | Translation: Magali Da Silva
Are you one of those people that believes that Murphy’s Law was created especially for him or her and always sees a glass of water as half empty? Your pessimism might be running overtime. As an astrologist, I can tell you that Saturn represents restrictions and limitations of reality, practical life with its responsibilities and commitments. Neptune embodies creative inspiration and all things subtle, faith, ideals and spiritual enlightenment.
And when these two planets clash, we believe that life is limited, our efforts and resources are used up in a daily fight for survival. And that dreams are not allowed, only routine serves to bind and limit us. How can we deal with this hopeless way of facing life? The answer is obvious: By changing our perspective. In other words, by cultivating optimism! Being able to see a positive aspect in any experience is a learnable skill, says Dr. Martin Seligman, author of “Learned Optimism.”
First, it is important to understand the difference between optimism and gushing positivism, disconnected from reality, as the famous “Pollyanna Syndrome.” To adopt a positive and trusting attitude does not mean being naïve, delusional or wear rose colored glasses, as did the character created by Eleanor Hodgman Porter. On the contrary, the optimist recognizes that life is neither a bowl of cherries nor a hill of beans. In other words, optimism requires that you understand that every setback is circumstantial and can be transformed into an opportunity. The optimist faces each experience, each problem from the point of view that it can be solved. He believes that difficulties can be resolved and acts promptly to find a solution that will allow him to achieve his goals.
On the other hand, the pessimist hopes that everything will go according to his plan, since he does not trust his own ability to take charge of the situation. When something goes wrong, he becomes paralyzed, frustrated, depressed and does not know how to respond to it. The pessimist lacks, what in physics is called, resilience – the propriety of a material to regain its original shape after being bent, stretched or compressed.
There is a story that illustrates this distinction between the optimist and the pessimist. A shoemaker sends two of his assistants abroad to check the potential of a foreign market. One of them says “No chance. Nobody wears shoes here”. The other one says “big opportunity. Nobody wears shoes here”. However, if the second assistant thinks that just by coming with a few pair of shoes he will make a fortune, he is not being optimistic, he is being naive. The optimist is the person who sees the potential of the market, but also knows that the market will need to be educated in how to use shoes, understand the product, recognize its advantages, etc.
It is easy to see that the difference between optimism and pessimism lies basically in how we explain our failures and disappointments to ourselves. For example, when there is a setback, the optimistic takes into consideration the external factors and believes that every difficult situation is temporary. Optimists think in terms of “sometimes” or “for the moment”. Meanwhile, the pessimist always blames himself and explains failures and disappointments in terms of permanent and universal, that can be observed in the use of phrases like “It’s me”, or words like “always” and “never”.
Below, some suggestions to incorporate more optimism in your daily life:
• Check on how you react to adversity and understand that reacting negatively will only delay the solution to the problem;
• Take care of yourself. Rediscover the joy of simple things;
• Visualize your tasks and obligation as opportunities to be creative;
• Treat every day as a chance to learn something about yourself and accept its challenges;
• When feeling insecure, anxious, sad or angered, take a deep breath, as it has the power to cheer you up;
• Try to unwind before going to bed and to be thankful for the good things that happened during the day.
Of course, all this is very easy to say, but difficult to practice, but for sure it is a foolproof recipe for a better and longer life: up to 12 years longer, according to a research published.
* Fabienne López is a Brazilian astrologer who has lived in the San Francisco Bay area for several years. She contributed frequently to Soul Brasil magazine during the years of 2005 and 2006.