You know you’re an optimist when…

I have my moments of inertia and incapacitation.  I feel grief.  I mourn.  And then I go on.  I wonder about my reactions sometimes.

The difficulty is in choosing a label for my behavior. I answered the questionnaire on but, as usual, the questions didn’t exactly fit.

I tried self-analysis.

Am I just foolish and irritating in constantly looking for a solution and peering at the bright side?

When I move on to better feelings quickly does it mean I’m a bit shallow?  Or am I (perish the thought!) subjugating my feelings, not acknowledging my difficulties, burying the hatchet deep within my own soul?

Is tenacity an indicator of optimism?  Or is it an indication of hardheadedness?

Do I have a poor memory for the bad history because psychologically I have learned to protect myself?


I walk by kitchen window and am reminded that I’m truly an optimist.  The proof is in the planting.

Nearly every year of my adult life I have planted seeds.  I plant whole packets in little containers. And I plant seeds outside in little rows and groupings among my perennials.

I nurture these seeds lovingly as they sprout and peek through the soil.  I check them several times a day (even more than I check my blog stats) to monitor their growth. I am jubilant when I detect a silly millimeter of progress.

I watch the tiny plants grow and then fall over on their spindly stems.  Or I watch their succulent stems dry up, leaving the leaves hanging for a few days before they wither and rot.  I watch the (outside) seedlings disappear overnight,  tasty treats for creepy-crawly-oozing creatures.

And just before the nights are finally warm enough, I go to the growers market or the supermarket and buy little six-packs of plants to replace the seeds (most of them) that either didn’t take or didn’t transplant well. Once in awhile I splurge on a 6-inch plant that appears fully-grown in my garden. Then I begin again, watching them all through the day and into the evening for signs of buds and/or fruit.

Each year I swear that I will never do it again.  No more planting seeds for me!  (But, just in case, I save those little plastic six-pack containers.)


And the next spring I linger again at the seed rack until I find the perfect seed.

Is that optimism or what?


This was written for and originally posted on Vision and Verb, on April 2, 2012.


  1. Habit?

    Optimism is an overrated virtue. We are all part optimist and part pessimist. Sometimes one is predominant and sometimes the other. Trusting one’s instincts in action works. At least it does for me.


  2. I remember an article I read, in which a sample of depression patients was compared to a sample of healthy controls with regard to how they assumed they were perceived by others, and afterwards, their assumptions were validated against the actual impressions of independent observers. It turned out that subjects in the non-depression sample assumed they were perceived more positive than they actually were, whereas subjects in the depression sample assumed they were perceived as positive or negative as they actually were. The researchers concluded that people with clinical depression do not suffer from a pessimism bias as often assumed, but see things realistically, whereas healthy people tend to see themselves and the things around them far too optimistic. This actually makes sense to me, because without optimism, we wouldn’t try to go on but stay in bed and don’t move, given how things are going in the world. So as long as you don’t have a depression, you *are* an optimist, whether you believe it or not. 😀

    I’m going to plant tomatoes again this year, although the harvest last year was modest (to put it generously). But growing plants is so much fun. 🙂


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