Saturday, January 18, 2014

Life is Good: Journal Entry

Here's an old blog entry that I wrote about my journey into the world of optimism. The glass has been half full and overflowing ever since this epiphany of mine.

November 21, 2008

A while back when I was running my 5k loop in training for my triathlons, I saw a bumper sticker on a car that said "Life is Good." It was stuck to a rather nice car, in front of an extravagant house, nestled in a rich neighborhood. And I thought to myself, yes, life is probably good for you. (I know I was being extremely judgmental, but I'm just being honest in what was crossing my mind at the time.)

The more I thought about that sticker while I was running, the more I grew to dislike it. Life is good? What kind of person could endorse such an unrealistic generalization? They are obviously in some state of denial, or having too many happy pills. Sure, life is good ON MOST DAYS. Sure life has incredible MOMENTS. But to generalize and say "Life is good...PERIOD" was a little too much for me. And it just rubbed me wrong.

More than anything, I just laughed at the ridiculous sticker and ultimately forgot about it. That is until I ran across the slogan again a few months later. I found a little shop in St. George that sold a whole bunch of products by the "Life is Good" company. Again I was perturbed by it. It didn't make me angry, it just made me shake my head. While I was standing there in that little shop I thought,"it should say something more along the lines of 'make life good' or 'good things happen.'" And I began to think in more depth why the current wording bothered me so much. I'm not a negative person, I really love my life and am extremely happy with it. But my life hasn't always been good. Any of you that know me well know that I went through a lot as a child with a mentally ill mother and other unfavorable circumstances. And I can say from experience that life is not good for everyone at all times. 

I think because of that, one of my pet peeves is people who are one step past optimism--in denial and crossing over into ignorance. I know a certain person who is like this where you can't even point out the simple facts like "we are lost" or "it is raining" or "people are dying in such and such country" without them thinking you are a downer. I like honesty. I dislike dishonest optimism, or disillusioned optimism. Real optimism is as defined in the dictionary:

"a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome." 

Again I dropped it, and didn't really think about it again until I was in the car with my mom one day and happened to see the sticker again. Finally, out of frustration I explained why I disliked the sticker and in explanation of my views ended with "I'm just a realist, mom." To which she responded with a hint of humor "that's what all pessimists say!" At that point I couldn't respond. There seemed to be a little too much truth to what she was saying. 

Once again, I abandoned the thought and once again it was brought to my attention. (Isn't it funny how God has a way of working with us until we get things right?) In church our Stake President (who is in charge of four or five congregations in our neighborhood) got up and said very poignantly "I want you to know that life is good, that the glass is half full." Immediately I was humbled. Here is a man, that I believe to be full of inspiration, who seemed to speak directly to me, telling me that life is good. Could it be more clear than it is now, that the Lord wants me to know that life is good. The Lord knows everything, He knows all the suffering and all of the sadness in the world, He knows all the suffering and sadness in my life and yet He spoke to my heart that life is still good despite it all.

So during this season of introspection and gratitude I feel myself compelled to a sense of optimism and gratefulness. Grateful because God knows me and has compassion on me and my thick scull. And optimistic that despite it all, life really is good.

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