I have a fabulous mother-in-law - she has all sorts of serious medical problems, has had some of them for most of her adult life, but she very rarely gets down about them. She has this amazing appreciation for everything in her life, and an abiding faith that everything will eventually work out for the best. I admire her tremendously, for this and other reasons. I asked her once how she developed this wonderful attitude, hoping to learn from her good example; unfortunately she said that she was born with it, and she didn't think it was something one developed. You either have it, or you don't.
Studies done on optimism, pessimism, shyness, etc. bear her out on this. Children evidently are inherently risk-takers or fearful, optimistic or anxious, shy or outgoing pretty much from birth, and by and large we grow up to be who we were from the beginning. These personality traits are filters through which each person passes all their experiences, and those filters determine what 'sticks' and what falls to the wayside.
Interestingly, studies also show that people who tend to be anxious, cautious, and pessimistic also tend to be more realistic than other people - they more accurately assess their own performance, more accurately assess the likely consequences of a given action, more accurately assess the likely outcome of a given situation. And yet this realistic attitude gets in their way; realistic people get less done, on average, and succeed less often than unrealistically optimistic people, people who shoot for unrealistic goals, people who take foolish risks, people who overestimate their own abilities and performance.
So don't get me wrong - I admire those who are positive in their attitudes, who set their goals high and reach for the stars, who whistle while they work and always look on the bright side of life. These are the people who get things done, and they are (usually) fun to be with while they are at it.
BUT... I was not born one of these people, and in spite of periods of resolve and effort, I have not been able to force myself to be one of these people. I am one of those annoyingly anxious, cautious, stubbornly realistic people. Attempts to force myself into acting otherwise have only lead to depression and loneliness - I knew I was faking it, and so did everyone else. People aren't naturally drawn to pessimists, it's true, but nobody likes being with fakey people. I've learned over time to accept (most of) my flaws and limitations.
As Popeye says, "I Yam What I Yam."
A well-intentioned reader - obviously a member of those number blessed with natural optimism herself, who correctly understands that an positive attitude does lead to a happier experience of life - urges me to stop talking about what I am losing and start talking about what I still have.
Well, I do know and appreciate what I have, and sometimes I talk (or write) about that. But right now my experience is largely one of loss and narrowing down and physical pain, and that is what I am dealing with. My life is challenging right now, and those challenges are likely to grow rather than diminish over what time is left to me. At the moment those challenges and losses are constantly in my face, so I have to deal with them - and I have to deal with them in my own way.
One of my ways of dealing with these challenges and losses - as well as my blessings - is to write about them, and to write about them honestly. So although I appreciate the good intentions behind the wish that I could be happier and focus more on the positive, I cannot follow a suggestion that would lead to my being insincere and Not Myself. I cannot pretend that I don't miss what I've always had and suddenly don't, or that I am not occasionally sad that my life is suddenly a lot more limited than I and my loved ones thought or hoped it would be.
I understand that this can be a Downer, and uncomfortable for some people. Luckily, they can either move on to something more positive in order to lift their spirits again, or they can wait for a bit and come back when I'm feeling better, or they can choose not to 'listen' to my whining at all. I can understand that urge, certainly!
I try to do most of my whinging/emoting on my other (cancer journal) blog, but the subject is bound to slip out onto this one on occasion. I hope that you will stick with me, and I do appreciate all the fabulous support and kindness shown to me by all my lovely readers... but please don't push at me, even with the best of intentions, to be someone that I'm not. It just makes me more unhappy and uncomfortable than I already am, which is not likely to lead to a more positive attitude on my part.
On the other hand, airing my feelings does often help me shed the heavier ones a bit. I feel better already...