Are you an optimist or a pessimist? I’m a happy gal who definitely falls into the realm of optimism. In fact, I’m often referred to as “sunshine and rainbows” by those who know me quite well. A moniker I’ve grown to love as I make my way optimistically through an increasingly pessimistic world.
If you are an optimist, then you realize that it is getting a wee bit harder to keep that proverbial glass of water half full. With the onslaught of bad news screaming at you from every news media outlet, you are forever refilling your glass to keep it level, checking for cracks, and keeping it stable so as not to tip over the brink.
“Three boys kill jogger because they are bored,” posts Media Outlet X. “Two boys on bus bully a child to the point of breaking his arm,” reports Media Outlet Y. Both of which are jarring bits of news that gave me pause. Actually, they stopped me dead in my tracks. Where are the sunshine and rainbows in these cases? There aren’t any. You won’t find them there either, because you are looking in the wrong place for something to make sense. Because none of that does. And because if you try to make sense out of it, you are left with a completely empty glass.
Everything is balanced: beach vs. ocean, heights vs. depths, body vs. soul, and good vs. bad news. As I see it, the balance isn’t out of whack, the information is. For every bad thing that happens in my glass in the space of air hovering above the water, a good thing is happening below in a fluid and unmistakably graceful motion. It has been this way throughout history. This, my dear friends, is nothing new.
However, nowadays our information is funneled to us by outlets that gain the most profit out of reporting the worst news. The numbers don’t lie…the more interaction with a story, the higher the numbers. The higher the numbers, the more advertising can be sold. The more advertising and marketing that can be sold, the more profitable the business of reporting news is. On and on it goes – fueled by a bottom line. The incongruous part though, is life is not a bottom line. Oh yes, it has an end, but not a monetary foundation that makes it either worthy of a story or not. It is a story unto itself.
To stay optimistic you have to work harder. You have to search in places that are both on and off the beaten path. Sure you can find the feel-good article from time-to-time online, on your mobile device, or on your TV, but it is usually a buried treasure waiting to be unearthed by those who are actively seeking grace. Or it is found by slowing down your busy life to thank the trees for making oxygen, the moon for providing glorious waves, and a child for taking their first steps.
For every bit of bad news, I stay optimistic by finding the balance and then tipping the scales with the good. For every death, thousands more are saved by a counselor, policeman, good samaritan, soup kitchen worker, and caring teacher. Are they newsworthy? To find out, let’s consider this hypothetical. Choose the headline below you would most likely click on:
“Policeman kills two car thieves by ramming car in high speed chase.”
– OR –
“Policeman visits local school to teach kids about the dangers of drunk driving.”
Face it, you would click on the first one. And yet, while two people – sad in its own right – lost their lives in the first scenario, how many lives were saved by the school visit? Did all twenty of the children in that classroom, or even two of them, take his speech to heart and subsequently make choices that kept them alive? Being an optimist, I’d like to think so.
Rainbows are brought about by a balance between sunshine and rain. So to be optimistic doesn’t mean that you only see good in the world, it means you seek more of it to keep your glass half full – even if you have to fill it with rain.