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A Quick Cure for the Pessimism Pandemic

Turning lemons into lemonade? Here’s an actual recipe

posted by Ronni Sandroff, January 17, 2013 More by this author

one yellow smiley face among gray unhappy faces

Ronni Sandroff is an award-winning writer and editor for national publications and websites.


one yellow smiley face among gray unhappy faces
iStockphoto
Are we doomed yet? This is kind of a daunting year. The omens are bad, according to the ancient Mayans, as interpreted by contemporary prophets of calamity. Even good ole Chevrolet dramatized the apocalypse, complete with frogs falling from the sky, in its 2012 Super Bowl commercial.
 
The evening news only reinforces the general sense of foreboding. The Euro is collapsing. War with Iran is looming. The U.S. real estate market is in a quagmire. "And it’s going to get worse,” you can count on a pundit to intone.
 
Suddenly, pessimism is cool. So what does a gal who thrives on positivism and a go-go economy do now? I’ve had to give it a lot of thought because my usual ways of coping seem a bit dated. Remember when being perky was in? I was good at that. I have a gift for spotting the silver linings in the storm clouds, but lately I’ve found that pointing them out makes people act like I’m deluded.
 
Some seem to thrive on the new negativism. “Frustration, anger, sadness and loneliness. That's, to me, inspiration for lyrics,“ the pop star Pink said in an interview. “Happiness? Useless. If I'm happy I don't get out of bed — there's no point.”
 
Well, I’m just the opposite. If I can ratchet myself up to even slightly positive on the emotion meter, then I’m up and at ’em, rah-rah, ready to devour the world.

(More: Think Positive, Be Happier: The Invaluable Lessons of 'Pollyanna')
 
Pink is not my role model in any case (and why isn't her name Blue?), but she seems to embrace a flawed coping technique namely, to convince yourself that you prefer negative scenarios and outcomes. The flaw is this: If you believe that you thrive on negativity, you will breed more of it.

I agree with Charlotte Bronte, who said that cheerfulness “is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us.” Yes, if the state within is positive, I have more energy and power to put toward fixing the bad situations I too often find myself in.

 
The big question is, how do you stay upbeat in a year when it’s hip to be a cynical and defeated? To cheer up the world, I’ve devised a step-by-step recipe for turning this lemon of a year into a refreshing and inspiring gulp of optimism. Call it lemonaide, circa 2012.
       
Step 1: Count your lemons. Count ’em up quick. Don’t worry about leaving any out. Then say: “Ah, I certainly have a bumper of crop of lemons. I can relax now; I’ve already counted them.”

(More: Why Today Is Better Than the Past)
 
Step 2: Squeeze. Sour as they taste, lemons contain a lot of nutrients. So, too, do those fabulous moments of life — they offer great opportunities for learning and growth, along with some purely pleasurable experiences. Put those in your juicer too, and squeeze the most joy out of every wonderful non-apocalyptic moment of this wobbly year.
 
Step 3: Add sugar and water. Be extravagant with the sugar. This kind has no calories and comes in the form of smiles, small words of encouragement and the odd joke. To dilute the power of the lemons, add a generous splash of that ordinary miracle, fresh water.
 
Step 4: Keep stirring. Praise yourself for stirring up some optimism. Go on, no one will know. And share the wealth: Offer a little lemonade to whomever’s around. Salud!
 
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