Small Victories

I am not one for small victories. To attempt to sift through the debris of a bad situation just to locate a few scraps of hope has always seemed like a mostly fruitless endeavor to me. Either the situation broke your way or it didn’t. Case closed.

This week has proved to be an odd experience for me, then, because I have been directly involved in a situation that did not turn out even close to the way I’d hoped it would and I’ve actually come away feeling pretty good about it. On the surface of things, I had no right to feel happy in the least about the results I was looking at, but I somehow managed to see the silver lining this time. I have to admit, finally not being the biggest pessimist in the room was not a bad sensation at all.

And then I tried explaining this to some other people. To put it mildly, they didn’t get it. They couldn’t understand how I could overlook the big picture staring me in the face and focus in on these tiny slivers of positivity which did absolutely nothing to change the overall outcome. To make matters worse, mine was a situation where others had excelled, and here I was taking solace in the fact that at least things didn’t develop as badly as I thought they would.

This irritated me quite a bit. It wasn’t until I stepped back and realized that I’m usually that dissenting opinion that I began to see the lesson I was being taught: Being the pessimist can not only be harmful to yourself, but it can bring down other people in the process.

I’ve been aware for a while that a pessimistic attitude can produce negative side effects. Certainly not all by-products are that way, as a few pessimists will always be needed to temper the bad ideas that can spring forth from the eternal optimists of the world. There are some aspects, though, that can lead a person into darker places than they intended to go. While life is actually not as bad as it seems, the perception of gloom and doom still exists because the “half-empty” thought pattern has been so firmly established.

When that type of perception is unleashed on another person, however, it can become toxic. Have you ever worked with that guy who was just sure the company was going to close next month? Or how about that lady who never, ever believes anyone’s good intentions are actually what they seem? It can be completely draining. Not only are they miserable, but they’ve somehow managed to make you completely miserable, too.

I will freely admit I have been that other guy way too often, spreading the dark clouds over picnics everywhere. I’ve been doing it for a long time, so I’m not going to promise any changes overnight (Plus, any drastic improvement will totally screw up the theme of this blog, and we can’t have that.). After being on the other side of things, though, I’m not so sure I need to tear down anymore. Sometimes, “half-full” is where it’s at after all.

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