What Pessimism Can Teach Us About Life

We always hear about the two kinds of people in the world:  Optimists and pessimists.  Someone will ask you: “Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person?”  And given your philosophy about life, you choose an answer.

Well, there’s a third answer:  “Neither, I’m a reality-based person.”  Believe it or not, this isn’t a bad way to live.

There are pessimists I know at work who walk the fine line between pessimism and “victomology:”

“Life is terrible, woe is me . . .” “Why is life treating me so bad?”

They’re the ones who say, “Gosh, I can’t figure out why my pants are so tight,” while they’re eating a super-sized burger (or two).

Then there are those annoying, ever-sunny optimists: “Oh, I’m so chipper,  “The sun will come up tomorrooowww.” “Life is perfect!”

Then there’s the:  Active pessimist.  This kind of pessmist knows that yes, life can suck sometimes.  Lousy things happen that can drag you down so far, you think you’ll never be able to get back up.

So you got a problem with a pothole?  Your taxes are going up a few bucks?  Your water bill is too high and it’s not your fault because you NEVER use water?  Your mailman walked across your lawn?  You’re fat and it’s the fast food industry’s fault?

Cry me a river, will ya? 

Here are some active pessimism options to your “dilemmas:”

Call the city or county before you hit the stupid pothole and let them know it’s there. Don’t like what politicians are doing? Become an activist.  Write a letter to your governor, your senator, your congressman.

Give some thought to those people who have no money to pay taxes with. Give a donation to the local food pantry, while you’re at it.

Realize that your household water consumption and plumbing is up to you, the homeowner.

Ask the mailman, nicely, not to walk across your lawn – or better yet, give him a break – he’s been doing a lot of walking that day!

Get off your butt and exercise.

Life isn’t fair.

Just suck it up, get over it, and move on!

Like the Paralympians do.

Like war veterans with disabilities do.

Like people who’ve survived cancer do.

Like parents whose kids are murdered needlessly do.

Like the kids who survive abusive childhoods and grow up to be successful adults do.

Do you think the people who suffered with those tragedies and setbacks didn’t want to just give up?  Do you think they wake up in the morning, singing with joy?  No, damnit:  For them it’s a struggle, every day, to choose to not only survive, but to thrive.  Despite the odds that they face, every single day, they go for it!  To put it more nicely:  You can’t choose the consquences life throws at you, but you can choose how to face those consequences.

Yes, passive pessimists can teach us a lot about life – they teach us how NOT to live.  Those sunny optimists teach us that too much happy, happy thinking is overrated

And the active pessimists, well, they’re the ones doing the living.  Taking action to make things better, for themselves and others.  Others are in awe of them, for their strength.  Well guess what, you have the strength also; you just have to reach inside yourself and find it.

Each of us has only one life, baby.  Make the best of it.

 What do you think?  Am I off my rocker or right on? 

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Bea’s Wellness Beat: Can You Spare a Pint?

heart tree


When I was 42 years old and my only brother was just 50, he died suddenly from a blood disorder, a complication stemming from hernia surgery.  He had been admitted to the hospital a mere four days earlier.  During those four days, he needed several blood transfusions.  He received them, thanks to blood donors. Though in the end, I lost one of my best friends and my staunchest defender, I’m very grateful that other people, without even realizing it, helped him during those last days of his life.

More recently, in the last four or five years, my sister-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.  She needed 30 blood transfusions in a month’s time to keep her alive until she was able to get a bone marrow transplant.  (Which she eventually received, thanks to a bone marrow donor) Because of this person’s generosity, my sister-in-law survived and is able to enjoy her 3 grandkids, who, as far as I know, think she’s the greatest Grandma in the world.

One little pint of blood, one half hour your time, a mere moment out of your lifetime; and you can save the lives of three people.

It’s easy:  Just go to the American Red Cross to find a donation opportunity in your area.

Interested in donating bone marrow to save a life?  Read more at Donation FAQs

To find other ways to make a difference in this world: 

Create the Good 

Volunteer Match

 By doing something positive in this world, you’re helping people and the future. We’re all trying to help the world… make it a better place to live. (Rick Danko, 1942-1999, Canadian singer, member of The Band)

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. (Anne Frank, 1929-1945, author, Diary of a Young Girl)

Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.  (William James, 1842-1910, Philosopher, Psychologist)


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Bea’s Wellness Beat: Can You Hear Me Now?

The reason we have two ears and only one mouth, is that we may hear more and speak less (Zeno, Greek Philosopher)

Good old Zeno knew what he was talking about.  We talk too much, and we listen too little.

We talk to our kids, and continue talking until it becomes a lecture and they tune us out.  We talk to our aging parents in that patronizing tone, because suddenly we’re the “grown-ups” and we see them as children. When we ask someone how their day is going, we interrupt their tale to talk about our daily trials and tribulations.

We think we’re communicating, but sadly, we aren’t.  We’re too busy giving our opinion, argument, or wise words, and completely missing the point.  The point is to listen and to connect with others.
5 Ways to Be a Better Listener:

  1. Look at the other person. Focus on him or her completely.  Give them the courtesy of not letting yourself get distracted.
  2. Listening is not the same as waiting to reply!  Avoid interrupting the person in the middle of his or her story, just because you think that your story is more important.  If all you’re doing in your head is trying to come up with a great response, you just ain’t listening.
  3. Set aside judgment and keep an open mind.  Not always easy, of  course.  But in order to really communicate with someone, you have to set aside your prejudices and biases.
  4. You can show your interest in what’s being said through your body language; nod, smile, and ask questions  when he or she pauses For instance, when you need clarification of  something that was said.
  5. Give them feedback.  Do you know what people love to hear?  They love to hear others tell them:  “This is what I hear you saying.” This statement lets them know that their words are valued by you.

Empathetic, active listening is so important.  It’s great for enhancing friendships, providing great customer service, building family relationships.  It enhances our social wellness in so many ways.



Friends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer. (Ed Cunningham)
The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard. (William Hazlitt)

Want to read more?

10 Steps to Effective Listening

5 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators

Great Communicators and Leaders in our World’s History

8 Reliable Health Resources

Interested in health and wellness?  Want to read about the latest research, health conditions, and more? Looking for trustworthy sources?

Don’t fall for health and wellness hype and scams!  When seeking out reliable health information, here’s what to look for:

  • Non-profit sites, those affiliated with governmental agencies, hospitals, universities, and public health organizations such as the American Heart Association.  These resources use medical facts and peer-reviewed research to provide health consumers with current, accurate information.

I’ve done some legwork for you.   Check out these 8 reliable resources:

(1) Medline Plus

(2) Johns Hopkins Medicine

(3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(4) Merck Manual Home Health Handbook

(5) Tuft’s University

(6) Medscape (for latest medical news)

(7) Harvard Health

(8) Health Finder




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