Optimism: Delusion or a Force that Propels Us Forward?
I’ve been whining about being sick the last few weeks. Really, weeks – this is the flu bug that ate Detroit. It arrived on the heels of dutifully gotten flu shots, so I’m a little bitter about it. Today is my rally day. I was up half the night with a bronchial cough, my ears are ringing from cranial cavities of snot and I smell like Vicks Vapor Rub. But by golly, I’m going to get caught up on laundry and my NaNoWriMo novel and pirouette off into the sunset, flu bug soundly rousted.
People keep saying, “You need to rest. Stop breathing on me.” I’m two sneezes away from storing Kleenex under my bra strap, if I had the energy to put on a bra. Needless to say, it ain’t pretty in The Green Study today. But – there are signs of optimism everywhere. I cleaned off my desk last night, in preparation for the day. I started catching up on my blog reading this morning and opened all the shades to let sunlight in. There is a potential for a hot shower, although that might be putting the bar pretty high.
I am the master of optimistic expectations for myself and my time. Sometimes I wonder if this is a detriment to self-esteem, since 9 times out of 10, I do not fully meet my goals. On the other hand, if I set no goals at all, would anything ever get done? People wiser than I would point out that it doesn’t have to be “either/or”, but I’ve never been adept at the middle road. My natural inclination is one of extremes. Fortunately, maturity (exhaustion) has tempered my youthful optimism. Just a bit.
Setting realistic expectations is a skill I’ve yet to fully master. Right now, I make “to do” lists like I write. I spew out whatever is in my head and then do a machete edit, cutting back until I think I have something legible and/or achievable. On occasion, I just put stars by those items that must get done. It’s a system that combines force of habit with some sense of priorities, but ofttimes is still unrealistic.
“It is the formidable character of the species to routinely seek the improbable, the difficult, even the impossible, as a source of pleasure and self-justification. Who would try to write poems, or novels, or paint pictures unless he is an optimist?”
Lionel Tiger, Anthropologist
Today’s the day, though. I will conquer the world, get caught up, write a zillion words, fold mounds of laundry that smell a lot better than I. But first, I have something marked with a star on my list for today: *Get some rest. Stop breathing on people. This, I can do.
Do you set expectations for yourself and are they realistic? This curious and snot-filled mind would love to know.