#UpbeatAuthors: Optimism & Happiness

“Positive thinking gives us the power to achieve our goals.”

I am a firm believer in goals. I also believe in optimism.

Optimism is considered to be a key ingredient to happiness, well-being, and satisfaction. Happier people have been found to be much more successful and leading more fulfilling lives.

Happiness doesn’t mean wild elation. Wild elation is exhausting. Content works. My goal is to be content. It’s not about reshaping the world around you; it’s about making a decision, an effort at times, to be optimistic.

Yes, life can suck. It frequently does. That doesn’t mean a person has to wallow in it.


Movie Review: Please Stand By

I saw a trailer for Please Stand By in early spring. My local library system had a copy, so I reserved it. A couple of months passed, but I love having my tax dollars work for me. We recently watched the film.

Premise: a young woman who writes Star Trek fanfic wants to enter her script in a contest. Oh, and the woman is autistic.

What’s not to love?

I really liked the movie. TV Stevie said it “had potential, but turned into a message movie.” He doesn’t like message movies. But all stories have messages. I like movies for story. Mr. “I Was a Cinema Major in College” has other things he looks for in a movie.  And that’s fair. But this movie wasn’t about those other things: texture, camera angles, and who the heck knows what esoteric other stuff. It was a story about a woman who had a goal, and despite all the circumstances against her, succeeds.

When a heroine doesn’t fit male-defined roles, men have trouble understanding them. Take The Florida Project. The women were variations on stereotypes: Madonnas and whores. Well received. Great reviews. But the females in the movie never stepped out of male-defined boxes.

Wendy, the heroine of Please Stand By doesn’t fit in a box.  I think that’s why men don’t “get” the movie.  One (male) reviewer even went so far as to write:  “it has a circumspect, sanitized quality, as if meant to be shown in group homes without causing undue upset.” Another man wrote: “Touches the viewer with the subtle emotional wallop of a feather brushing against the heart.”

A lot of professional female reviewers panned the movie, too.  It was generally thought too bland. I guess we know which reviewers are ignorant of autism.

Just because a movie isn’t about shedding blood or blowing up things doesn’t make it a bad movie. Exploring “women’s” issues–family, relationships, etc. doesn’t make a movie a bad. Lack of violence shouldn’t be a touchstone, but in today’s world, it seems to have become one.

There were many subtle parallel layers in the film. At least one was “mansplained.”

To me, the important thing was that Wendy had a goal and nothing was going to stop her from submitting that script to that contest. Her determination is what kept her going, despite the world conspiring to prevent her from achieving what she wanted.

That’s an important lesson for anyone to learn.



#UpbeatAuthors: Boost Your Optimism Quotient

Sometimes it feels as though the world conspires to keep us down. But remember: the only thing over which we have total control is our attitude.

Here are a few tips to bolster optimism:

Revisit long-term dreams: You dream of being a New York Times best-seller? Imagine yourself on that list. How would being on the list change your life? Change you?

Get enough sleep: Drowsiness promotes pessimism.

Breathing & Hydration: Drink water. Lots of it. The human brain is 77-78% water. Drinking water keeps it healthy and gives it a boost. Same for deep breathing. Oxygen allows the brain to think more clearly. Clear thinking leads to positive thoughts.

Meditation: The practice doesn’t have to be fancy. There are plenty of free apps out there to get you started. Meditation really can help. I’ve used both the Calm and the Insight Timer apps.

Me Time: I’m an introvert, so I fiercely guard my down time. Doing something for yourself isn’t selfish. It’s self-nourishing.

Avoid negativity: This is easier to suggest than to practice. News about the state of the world bombards us; a downer person may be a co-worker, a spouse, a child. The worst thing in your life might be your job, but you have to work. I’ve developed little “tricks” to help me. When a co-worker goes on a rant, I hum Vangelis’s “Hymne“, sometimes to myself, sometimes under my breath. I try to look for the humor in any situation.

Smile: Forcing a smile can lead to a genuine smile.


A Thing I Don’t Understand

There are many things in life I don’t understand:

  • Going to a movie on a first date
  • fancy automobiles
  • pineapple on a pizza

But we all have different priorities.

Here’s another one:

Why do some people need more money when they already have more money than they will ever need? How much money is enough? Do they have shelter? Clothing? Food? Health care? Love? Peace?

I’m not saying people who work hard should deny themselves pleasures. I like treating myself to things. I like being able to afford those treats. And yes, I would like a little more money in my life so I could help my Chromos with their crushing college debt. To put a new roof on my house. To hire someone to clean my house. But I don’ t need those things. (Except maybe the roof. )

I’m talking about people who amass billions of dollars. Why? You can’t take it with you when you die. I get that you employ people, your  office staff, your household staff etc. I’m talking above and beyond that. Why do you need so much?

I know I am a spoiled American brat. I have car (used), a house, a standard of life that is middle class here. I don’t go hungry.  People in other countries would think me wealthy, and they’d be right. Because I’m content. I’m comfortable. I don’t need more.

#UpbeatAuthors: Laughter

Optimism, it has been said, promotes laughter. Laughter is good for you.

  • Reduces stress response
  • Boosts immunity
  • Increases resilience
  • Combats depression
  • Relieves pain
  • Improves social life
  • Is a mini workout
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Improves your breathing
  • Is contagious.

Contagious? Yes.

There’s this thing called laughter yoga. It begins as prolonged voluntary laughter, but soon turns into genuine laughter. One person I know has done this and said it’s great. Some small-scale research has indicated that there are actual health benefits to laughter yoga. Unfortunately, it’s a group activity, and I try to avoid those whenever I can.

There are plenty of You Tube videos out there if you’re interested in gathering a group and trying it. Hmm. Maybe on my next writing retreat…