This weekend my Mother and I watched Michael J. Fox’s special on optimism. Irony of irony we watched it after having a bit of a conversational blowup (my way of saying I instigated a fight) and dripping in sweat. Have I mentioned that our air conditioner has decided not to work? Have I mentioned it happened on late Thursday thus making the next available appointment for assistance to be Monday afternoon? Have I mentioned I live in Florida and that we are currently in a heat wave? As in 90+ five days in a row.
So there we sat, in our den, with the blinds closed tightly keeping out the sun and the ceiling fan whirring around on warp speed. Mother reclined with an ice pack on her chest and I mopped sweat from my everywhere while trying not to pass out from the warmth generated by my adorable baby.
In other words we were in quite the right place for a TV special on optimism.
And wouldn’t you know, as the program progressed, I did find that my mood had lightened. I found that I was not as oppressed with the heat. I found that I was able to talk to Mother without picking a fight. Half way through the program Michael brings up the question about whether or not optimism is genetic. He believes it is and then goes as far as to tell his wife that if his kids aren’t optimistic, well then it is all her fault.
And while 23andMe is still in research mode as far as genotyping a happy gene, they do offer an interesting survey regarding optimism. I took the survey (go science, go!) and now know that, like the majority of other people that took the test that I am of average optimism. But it made me wonder about the 23% that found out that they are more optimistic than average and the 18% that has been told that they are less optimistic than average.
If I told you that I feel like you are just not a happy person wouldn’t that depress you?
When I was pregnant with W I was very aware of when I was optimistic and when I wasn’t. While I was dealing with infertility and having to bounce back after each failed cycle I was told by many people that I just needed to think positive, have hope, visualize success. All things that made me want to scream. But when I got pregnant I worried that if I didn’t exist in a state of permanent glow and bliss that I was going to doom myself with pessimism.
It’s a kind of manic place to be when you are constantly trying to freeze frame a correct state of emotions. And is the person who is freaking out on the inside but grinning on the outside having a better quality of life?
Still I tried to be happy even when I wasn’t. I had this notion that I was passing off my energy via some sort of pregnancy osmosis and that if I laughed the baby would, if I cried so would the baby. It was a logic that I felt was solid based on the fact that other people’s emotions affect me pretty deeply. If I see someone upset I get upset, if I see someone grinning their ass off you can bet I will start to smile.
And now when W is calm or excited a part of me feels like I helped brew him that way from within. And if he grows up optimistic I will be happy. Kind of like how our Moms have always told us, “I’m happy if you’re happy.”
Want to know if how you measure up with optimism? You can find out within the survey section of 23andMe.