The optimism & gratitude connection

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” – Cicero

I believe this.

Rarely do any of my borderline-pessimistic friends speak of gratitude. They tend, instead, to repeat narratives about those who have slighted them. Each repetition make the offense new again.

It’s a very bad habit.

The funny thing is that even though I can trend toward pessimism I have feelings of immense gratitude. To start with, I am grateful to God and the fates for living where I do and when. I was never so foolish that my gratitude toward my parents faltered. I know that few parents measure up to mine when it came to love, support and understanding. They were amazing people.

On the other hand, gratitude can bring out something else in me as well. On the other side of gratitude is a fear that even with all of the gifts and benefits I’ve enjoyed, my life’s work may not amount to much. It’s the feeling of knowing you’ve had so much help and good fortune but it still might not be enough. In those sobering moments I am prone to remind myself that Van Gogh sold only one painting, The Red Vineyard, and then died a few months later at the age of 37.

The Red Vineyard

My total writing sales amount to just about what Van Gogh got for his painting and I’m now 53. I say it’s sobering to avoid using the word depressing.

Still, I am glad to have so much gratitude in my heart. I just need to create a technique that allows me to convert feelings of thankfulness into optimistic action, and that’s proven tricky for me so far.

The optimism & gratitude connection

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