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I wasn’t born an annoying optimist. I was born a screaming ball of fury for being forced to leave the warm water world of instant food and pooping freedom.
Instead, I have had to cultivate the annoying optimist. It’s a journey, not a destination. I enjoy being a DIY optimist and it pays better than pessimism.
A while ago, I was at the grocery store. I bought the weekly items, paid, and left. As I was weaving my way through the parking lot, I realized I got gipped on a discount.
I went from the glow of content at completing a tedious chore to smoldering anger. How dare I get gipped! Even after expressing chipper pleasantries like please, thank you, and how are you?
The whole (5-minute) drive home, I fumed. It wasn’t until I got home that I started dissecting my wrath. Why was I upset over a couple of dollars? How was this anger enhancing my life? Why was I expecting perfection from others when I know how unattainable that is in customer service?
I wasted a nice drive home and turned into an ugly volcano of discontent. As I finished the therapy chat, I recognized the anger was unnecessary, harmful, and unproductive.
I spent so much time stewing that I felt embarrassed. I had let my inner anger take over when I could have accepted the fact that it happened and used that energy towards something more productive like watching fainting goat videos, wondering why humans have brain farts, or try to find a solution to my loss.
Which is what I did, after I put away the groceries.
I was embarrassed, not a heathen.
I contacted customer service, and they couldn’t solve the entire problem, but they did refund half the missing discount. My hot-headed story was sealed: it pays to accept the problem and use the remaining mental bandwidth towards a solution, not another problem like anger management classes.
Promoting Annoying Optimists
The smarties at MIT did a study about optimists and job prospects.
Optimistically inclined MBA students found comparable jobs to their peers — but found them more easily, with less-intensive job searches. What’s more, two years after graduation, the optimists were more likely than their less-optimistic peers to have been promoted.MIT
I want happy people employed because I want to be their coworkers, and when they get promoted, I want them to be my boss.
I’ve been working for 21 years. As I quickly flip through job memories, my favorite positions included value-driven experiences and happy coworkers/bosses.
I have been fortunate in the employment world and I give props to DIY optimism. I cash it in during interviews. Before going into an interview, I focus on how the new employer will be fun. Bubbly nervousness turns into growing excitement which changes dread into something on the verge of fun.
A positive attitude during an interview implants automatic mindfulness. My answers are rarely perfect, but I don’t focus on the extra ums or ramblings about the ideal answer to crusty customers. Instead, I accept my mediocre response and funnel energy into the next zinger.
I add a bit of PG-13 humor to an interview too because if the employers are laughing during the interview, they are more likely to think happy thoughts when my candidacy is weighed. Plus, laughter relieves everyone’s stress including my own.
When people talk behind my back, I want it to be with smiles and jokes, not groans about frequent bathroom breaks (I’m well hydrated, people!).
Doomsday is Expensive
To clarify, I’m an optimist, not an idiot.
The world is a mostly good place where food grows from the ground, people want to be happy, and cats think everything belongs on the ground.
Disclosure aside, I have been verbally threatened, hit by cars, and food has been thrown at me when someone decides that a runner is good practice for their throwing skills.
Being human is hard.
That is why there is insurance. Insurance is how this optimist accepts reality for what it is – mostly good with a touch of Hurricane Katrina.
I buy insurance for bad things that could happen to expensive items like my home and car. A fully stocked safety kit is at home, work, and in my car. I even carry cash when I always use a credit card.
I don’t have a 5-room bunker in an unmarked location, a tiny Fort Knox, or enough weapons to arm every man, woman, and dog on our street. That sort of pessimism is too pricey for my budget.
Humanity could experience a world-ending event that devastates lives and business, but humans are hearty and my proof is the dumpster fire called 2020. I prefer to invest in the future, where we could go to space as often as we visit the tropical delights of Florida. Besides, if the world goes to pot, what good is gold, a limited amount of food, and munition?
Mad Money Skills
Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Oprah. A shortlist of super successful, super-rich, annoying optimist people. These savvy folks built their fortunes on the belief that they could make the world a better place with their skills and a healthy heaping of learning. They didn’t invest in the dark days of pessimism but the bright lights of the future.
I like those odds.