Monday, May 11, 2009

Bummer (but I can't help it)

Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist - Michael J. Fox
courtesy ABC

I watched a broadcast last week done by Michael J. Fox that looked at the traits of optimists. Fox considers himself to be a hopeless optimist, and given how he is living his life despite what he is up against, I would have to agree.

It was an interesting and hopeful hour, as you would expect. Fox looked at optimists from NYC to Chicago to Bhutan, featruing dairy farmers and actors and baseball fans and some guy handing out free newspapers to New Yorkers. He listened to their stories and perspectives and then visited with researchers who are trying to determine whether optimism is a choice or a product of genetics.

They seem to lean toward genetics. Which is a bummer, because I tend toward pessimism. (Figures.)

The most interesting thing for me, though, was learning that optimists and pessimists tend to benefit from stimuli that feed their disposition -- in other words, an optimist will perform better if bolstered by positive input prior to a task; the pessimist will perform better if fed negative input prior to a task. The reasoning? Evidently pessimists look for problems not just to seek out the negative, but to prepare solutions to those problems.

Which explains why I can look at any given room at any given time and determine eight different ways my kid can kill herself. OK maybe not kill herself -- but at least do permanent damage. (You think I'm kidding? Think again.)

Anyway, I am a little bummed that I seem to be stuck with a pessimistic outlook on life but it's good to know that my brain is always looking for a way around the roadblocks. Of course now I want to read all of Fox's books, but I don't know how I'll begin to do that given all the other stuff I need to work on. Hmmm. I guess I'll just have to find a way...

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