Optimism in large supply

Patricia Barra

Optimism seems to me a quality that can be here quickly and leave just as soon as it came. Everyone has those days when a huge cloud is over you and hope has long left your mentality. You step on gum, you lose your car keys and you’re already really late for class while having a sticky shoe.

I have had those days, but my perspective on them has changed. I look at the positive things going on and remember I have my health, family and friends.

How have I managed this, you say? Good question! Let me tell you a story that caused an epiphany.

In high school, I worked at a movie theater, and one day I was working as an usher. Basically I cleaned up everyone’s mess after the movie ended.

(On a side note, being on the other side of the fence, please try to clean up your mess to the best of your ability. Workers have a lot to clean in very little time.)

TI was working a weekday, you would think it wasn’t too bad. Exactly the opposite! I was working all alone and the theater was a mess. Kids threw their popcorn on the floor on purpose so I would have to clean it up.

As I changed the trash bag in the theater, and I had a really mad face, I guess, while I was doing it because an old man standing at the door looked at me and said, “smile because it could be a lot worse.”

It hit me suddenly how right he was and how silly I was being.

So, I used this knowledge and smiled the rest of the night and even my co-workers thought it was strange until I explained what happened.

Ever since then, if I am having a bad day, I stay cool as a cucumber and think of the good things I should be thankful for and, trust me, it can be hard at times, but why stay negative?

It wastes your time and energy. Someone out there could be having a worse day and be dealing with a horrible situation.

Think! If we have health, family and friends, how many people out there are wishing to be in our shoes? Exactly!

I try to go through life smiling because I think I am lucky to be alive and here today. It is human nature for us to dwell on the negative and keep thinking of the horrible thing or things that happened. But, in a way, we are making it worse for ourselves.

Try it sometime, and you’ll be able to tell the difference. I knew this past week I was not alone in feeling this, because in my Children’s Literature class we’re talking about traditional literature. There was a folktale titled “It Could Always Be Worse,” retold by Margot Zemach. It taught the same lesson that stranger taught me.

I’ll admit I am probably not the first in discovering this, but someone out there might not know or have forgotten this just as I had that day in the movie theater. This is a reminder.

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