Is it hope or optimism? Ponder that, for a moment. The deeply devout seem to prefer the usage of the word hope. The religiously skittish seem to prefer the term optimism. Others, like myself, see no real difference between the two. It really boils down to one’s preference. Perhaps, hope resonates more than optimism for some? For others, it’s just the opposite. But, by definition, there is little difference. If you doubt me, pick up a dictionary. If the similarities still aren’t sinking in, then open a Thesaurus. For this, I turned to Merriam Webster’s online: “Words Related to optimism – brightness, cheerfulness, perkiness, sunniness, hope, hopefulness, rosiness, idealism, meliorism”. The words, hope and optimism, are like twins. To some, they appear identical. By definition, maybe, they are fraternal. But there isn’t a lot of differentiation, if there is any at all.
I have said all of this to point out that how we perceive things, bad or good, has an influence on our future and our health. Optimism or hope, whichever you prefer to use, plays a significant role in how you live your daily life. It plays an even greater role in how you manage your Chronic illness. I know it has played a significant one, in how I have managed mine. Optimism is healthy. It’s positive. Hope is, too. Both are like sunlight, piercing through the dreary clouds of life. They promise good things to every garden.
When many people are diagnosed with a Chronic illness, their reaction is denial. Deep down, they know that they aren’t feeling well. Something is wrong. But sick and chronically ill are two very different animals. Some patients, if not all, are overwhelmed by the diagnosis. I know that I was, every time. If you are juggling multiple Chronic illnesses, you know what I mean. A part of you is too numb to react. Another part is angry and screaming, whether the words are ever actually heard aloud or not. Again? Why me? And another part of you is crying — sobbing uncontrollably. It’s hard, but it’s not impossible. Optimism is like that warm blanket that makes you feel better. It comforts and encourages. It’s that loving hug that we can all use, every now and then. Sheer strength seems to come from it.
As I embraced being an advocate, accepting that call, I prayed a lot. And I thought about every little thing — including the title of this blog. Was it optimism or hope? Did it really matter? From the perception standpoint, it did. To be more inclusive, it seemed that I had to step back to avoid sounding preachy. Then, I stumbled upon this quote,
That says it all; doesn’t it? Think of what Ms. Keller achieved, despite her physical impediments. Think of the era that she accomplished these things in. It was phenomenal, to say the least. All of us, no matter our afflictions, aspire to achieve a good life … a happy one … one that is as fulfilling as possible. We want to love and to share. We want to make the most of every day, manage our health issues and LIVE! If optimism allows us to do so, then optimism it is. And if faith is guiding that optimism, so be it. I have no problem with that. My faith has sustained me, for decades. But faith is also a very personal journey.
As we greet the New Year, let us all take a moment to assess our lives. Count our blessings. Consider the positive changes that we can make, in 2018. Let go of the negative things, in our lives. Let this advice from Romans 12:9 (NIV) guide you into a better, happier year ahead: “Cling to what is good.” And to each of you … Happy New Year!