Everywhere I look I encounter yet more doom and gloom among people who should be out there inspiring us to greater things. I perceive a general angst that we are adrift, that our ship of state has struck a reef and is foundering in a turbulent sea.
It is hardly news that America has become more divided. But this survey offers fresh support that these divisions are not about gun control or abortion or any of the individual issues we fight about, but about deeper dissatisfactions and worries.
I admit it, I have a blind spot; I have a hard time spotting bad intent. But viewing the world through a lens of mistrust creates problems, as well. When you walk around expecting people to treat you badly, they usually do.
The other day someone told me that I was being a "Negatron." I guessed what it meant, but sought clarification; I was told that I needed to learn to be more positive, that I needed an attitude adjustment. My first reaction was defensive: "No way! I'm not negative!"
Ultimately, it is always in our own self-interest to be open and vulnerable rather than to be nasty or write people off. The only person we can control is ourselves. When we get cynical, we are the ones who suffer.
Like most families together for the holidays, we spend the first hours going over the updates: who died, who went bankrupt, who needs surgery. Given enough time and liquor, this can easily become a competition: whose disaster story is worse?
As a mental practitioner who helps people change their mental state from the consciousness of sickness to one of health, I've seen again and again how the removal of fear and fixation on the images of disease positively affects one's well-being.
Are you a pessimist or an optimist? When you've eaten all the whipped cream and upper midsection of your Venti Soy Mocha Frappuccino, is that cup half empty or is it half full of stuff you probably shouldn't be drinking at the start of your day?
Is the glass half-empty or half-full? I subscribe to the answer my colleague Sally Fisher formulated: "Both!" Life is both full and empty. When we are only in the empty part, we are suffering; when we are only in the full part, we are in denial.
Did pessimism about the future influence people to abandon the hope of saving for retirement, or did a lack of savings lead to the pessimism? One clue may be in the fact that people over 55 are even more gloomy about the future of the economy than the general population.