Optimists die happier

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Being optimistic is sometimes misunderstood as being happy. It is true that optimism can affect your happiness, but happiness is not the definition of optimism.

The difference between an optimist and a pessimist is that the optimist sees his difficult time as temporary, while the pessimist as permanent. That’s it. An optimist is convinced that things will change for the better. That does not mean that you just can become an optimist and suddenly life is magically filled with joy and happiness. Life is not that easy. There are things that will not change. The death of somebody is permanent. But the way we feel about it is not. Trusting this process is what defines the optimist.

Finding this trust is something I had to learn and remind myself of again and again. Last week my doctor had to give me some mixed results regarding my health. The good news is that I do not have any spreading of my tumour in my lungs or lymph nodes. The bad news is that we found again three metastases in my liver. Very small ones, but they are there.

So what do I do with this news? Become scared and sad or relieved and grateful? Probably something in between, as life is often not black or white. The new spots are at the edge of the liver and luckily accessible for a possible surgery. They also grew much slower compared to the ones I had before. But of course, despite these positive aspects, such a news hits still hard and I do not want to hide that.

You probably know that I am an optimist. And I do believe that also this situation will change for the better. This is a honest feeling and not a played kind-of ‘I just have to think positive’ platitude. But that does not mean that I am not scared. Of course I am. This situation is not easy and asks for the full attention of my body, my heart and my mind-set.

Finding the right mind-set has a lot to do with what you pay attention to. As an optimist I do not focus on the frozen water in front of me, but the beautiful, sunny mountains in the back. Yes, I see the ice and how it covers the whole lake, but I trust nature that it will melt and life can flourish again. Maybe not today and not tomorrow, but one day. Optimistic thinking does not change my situation, but it changes how I feel about it and that is what counts in the end. It gives me peace of mind and a calm type of happiness.

Martin Inderbitzin