C’mon, Get Happy (and Old)!

When it comes to my energy level, I often feel as if I’m trying to cook a banquet over a tea light. The juice is just not THERE, which is typical of my old pal, hypothyroidism. On the tread desk, I don’t march, I trudge. All the memes exhorting me to get to the gym, lose the weight, go paleo, go clean, drink water (but not from plastic bottles), avoid carbs (avoid more carbs! avoid all carbs!), strike me as fine ideas, but executing them takes energy.

Instead of cursing the darkness (though heaven knows I have the energy for that), I scrounge around for what I can do. For the smallest steps I can take in the direction of better health and more energy.

Like managing my sleep. Pretty much every prescription for better health is doomed if it’s not based on adequate rest. I can do this one! Or learning New Stuff, because this is one way to protect the old brain from Alzheimer’s. I can learn new stuff! Or making time for my friendships–very important for overall health and happiness.

Something else that has been proven to aid longevity is optimism, having hopes and dreams instead of noshing constantly on worries and disappointments. Looking on the bright side, acknowledging that silver linings can be beautiful. Associating with bright-side people (commenters represent!), avoiding the click-bait horror stories that pollute so much of what passes for social media.

Optimistic people have longer life expectancies. Optimistic people with HIV have better prognoses than do HIV patients of a grimmer nature. Optimistic people recover from surgeries and other physical traumas more quickly.

There’s further evidence that you can even be wrong in your optimism–you’re not as healthy as you think, not as likely to succeed as you think–and your positive outlook still benefits your overall health. You feel better than your lab reports think you should, in other words.

I love my life. I’m so stinkin’ lucky to be able to do something I love, much less to be able to pay the bills doing it. I can spend my free time as I please, my health is good enough that none of my dreams are precluded by medical issues. Yes, there are challenges, and thank heavens for them, because they help me keep growing.

I want to do what I can to keep this joyride going. Turns out, one of the most powerful steps I can take is to foster a positive attitude about myself, my future, and my fellow wayfarers.Β  Maybe the meek will inherit the earth, but the jolly will have good long turn enjoying it too.

Where do you see grounds for optimism? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Too Scot to Handle, a tale that draws upon much optimism to reach its happily ever after, even optimism in the face of disaster!

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39 comments on “C’mon, Get Happy (and Old)!

  1. 1
    Pemcat says:

    My little boy is nearly ten months old. He and his contemporaries are so friendly and interested in EVERYTHING. I think all babies are scientists at heart. At the moment my little one is experimenting with open/shut and in/out – not always the most helpful if I’m trying to get laundry put away! It’s lovely to see the start of the next generation, how trusting and curious they are.

    A decent night’s sleep is a dim and distant memory for me at the moment, though my husband makes sure I get a lie in most days (after I’ve been waking up every hour or two overnight with the baby). I will start at a new job when baby is a year old (mornings only), and it’s four miles away. I plan to cycle at least one direction, working up to both ways eventually (where we live has a bike hire scheme and public transport that make this possible). I’m enjoying getting out a bit on a bike each day now in preparation though I am VERY unfit. Much nicer to cycle along the river than use an exercise bike at home.

    • 1.1

      Oh, that sounds lovely… biking along the river, no climbing in the car to do battle with four lanes of stuck traffic…

      My daughter took three years to sleep through the night, but here in the States, you go back to work not more than six weeks after birth (if you have decent insurance and some money saved). That was AWFUL, and I suspect part of what made my daughter so wakeful was that the only time she got to see me (the only parent in her life) was at two in the morning.

      You’re right about the inquiring mind of a small child. I love talking to my very young clients, because they have a such a fresh perspective on EVERYTHING.

  2. 2
    Jen Stremel says:

    I have a t-shirt that says “optimistic by nature”, and I really am. To be honest, some days I wear it as an statement, and some days I wear it as a reminder. πŸ™‚ On the “reminder” days, I make a point of stopping and reminding myself of the good – to try to shift from focusing on the frustrating.

    • 2.1

      The studies say you will outlive many of us, just because of your cheerful ‘tude.

      I am not optimistic by nature. I am instead whatever the situation lacks. If there’s a pep rally in progress, I’m the voice of doomed reality. If everybody’s awfulizing, THEN I will look on the bright side. This is characteristic frequently exhibited by younger siblings in a large family.

      But it says that I CAN be optimistic if I choose to be. Wonder if that T-shirt comes in X-large?

      • 2.1.1
        Jen Stremel says:

        Yes, it comes in X-large. Can be found at Life is Good (purveyors of optimistic t-shirts extraordinaire) πŸ™‚

  3. 3

    I am on the whole a optimistic person who like most people have setbacks and trials that sometimes pull you down so far that it takes positive thinking and constant reminding that being in the doom and gloom room to long is unhealthy and soul destroying.Time is racing by at a rapid pace so I want to live it to the full and enjoy what I do.Some people around me can not get off the pessimistic path and it really upsets me so I try to avoid them much of the time.We must have faith that fellow human beings and future generations will right the wrongs and create a world that’s half decent.A perfect world for everybody is not going to happen because we all see perfection differently.Being optimistic is a way to one’s own contentment.I’m going to watch the news now on the tv now that is a test of my optimism. Bye keep smiling.

    • 3.1

      One source of optimism for me is my parents. They lived through the Depression, WWII (and many of their generation also lost a parent in WWI), the Korean War, sending sons and daughters to Vietnam, Watergate, Kent State, the Civil Rights turmoil, the Gulf War, so much that was so hard.

      And yet, they could laugh. They could see the world as basically good. My dad still delights in a purring cat, The month before she died, my mom was being the family Christmas elf.

      There’s love and goodness stashed all over the place. We just have to focus on it.

  4. 4
    Susan Gorman says:

    It seems that there are so many rules now…watch your carb, fat and sugar intake, eat more vegetables, drink water and more water….Are we having fun , yet?

    I am in a bit of a mood. I miss my Celeste and things aren’t going well. I don’t want to go anywhere, can’t find a book or tv show to hold my interest. I know that I need to to figure my way out of this situation. I started by going to bed earlier. Sleep helps. A lot.
    I am back at dog class which was tough but I did it.

    Last week I had an overwhelming day at work followed by another dental appointment. I called my friend and asked if I could stop over on my way home. We visited and took her puppies for a walk….everything is new and exciting to them. Puppies are inquisitive and loving. Felt better after the visit…it’s a start in the right direction.

    • 4.1

      Sorry the grief is… dogging your steps, Sue, but you loved Celeste ferociously, and we grieve in proportion to how we love.

      I do wonder how many terrible, horrible, awful, very bad days could be eased by your very wise words, “I called a friend…” and puppies. Kittens, puppies, babies… They have wisdom we’ve forgotten, and are so generous about sharing it.

  5. 5
    Larisa says:

    One piece is the kindness I see and hear from people around me. People discussing how to light a lamp,not breaking or disparaging anyone else’s lamp (mostly).
    And I hear you on the hypothyroidism, it’s a sneaky beast.
    Your books are a light, a huge glowing light. Starting with the Windhams we all have a functional loving family to visit. Thank you for that.

  6. 6
    Marianne says:

    “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

    This family recently lost it’s merriest heart due to cancer and advancing age, but he will be a good reminder. It occasionally drove his immediate family nuts, because he saw ponies in every pile of manure.

    “Live long and prosper.”

    • 6.1

      I’m sorry for your loss, and we can all agree cancer stinks, period.

      I ride the fenceline between “You will never, EVER talk, think, jolly, or manipulate me into denying, minimizing, rationalizing, or silencing my pain…” and, “C’mon, Grace. Nobody is trying to steal your precious grumpy, but could you at least smell a rose between tirades?”

      Balance, and good company.

  7. 7
    Beth says:

    Another hypo sufferer here. After a wasted year where I kept telling my endocrinologist that someone had turned off my higher brain functions and he stubbornly insisted my labs were “normal” and I therefore was fine, he FINALLY listened to me and added liothyroxine to the mix. (Seems there’s a contingent of us out there whose bodies won’t convert T4 to T3 when I research on the interweb) And BOOM! I could literally feel the front half of my brain coming back to life and I haz energy! Suddenly creating again after a year + of glacial creep thinking.

    Might be time to hurl abuse until your provider tweaks your body chemistry back to functional. Too much of what big pharma is teaching them doesn’t work for all of us.

    • 7.1

      I am SO GLAD you didn’t back down, or buy into the, “Well, you’re getting older/you’ve been under a lot of stress/we all slow down…” BS. Criminy.

      Point to ponder: Nobody ever did clinical trials on Synthroid. It was grandfathered in to FDA acceptance, and never had to show any efficacy in terms of alleviating symptoms. Some bright soul decided to address that oversight and asked a bunch of people diagnosed with hypo but not yet treated to list and rate symptoms. Then they put the same questionnaire to people who’d been “treated” with just T4.
      Surprise! The treated group was just as miserable as the untreated group. No relief of symptoms, no effective treatment at all.
      But the endos and GPs keep muttering that your TSH tells the tale… while you sit there like an invisible lump, just reporting symptoms for the heck of it?
      GRRRR.

  8. 8
    Teenie Marie says:

    Our family’s motto–born because of our eldest son’s autism diagnosis–is “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade or an Old-Fashioned if you need to!”
    We try to take a negative and turn it into a positive. As we always successful? NO, but we try. And as we try, things become clearer and maybe what we thought what we wanted is tossed aside and what comes is better than the original idea. Being flexible is key, I think, to a happy life.

    • 8.1

      That is a terrific motto, and speaks loudly of love, acceptance, and humor. I still think that all constructive change starts with accepting what is, truly seeing it in the best possible light, and THEN deciding what the next step is.

      Must try that Old-Fashioned prescription. Sounds like a great summer tonic.

  9. 9
    Diane Sallans says:

    When I find myself feeling a bit down it’s often when the sun hasn’t been out much – so I remind myself to take some Vitamin D and a bit of dark chocolate! And when the world seems to be a bit out of control and crazy, I look back on what has happened in history and remind myself if we can get thru those times we can’t get thru what’s going on now.

    • 9.1

      The sunshine thing… I’m convinced that real sunshine must do us some kind of good the supplements don’t. When I get my beneficial rays, I do feel more relaxed and clear-headed. The supplements just don’t do that for me.

      And yes, I think about what my Dad’s generation has been through: The Great Depression, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Watergate, the Gulf War, the assassinations of the 1960s, the Cold War… all of it scary and awful, all of it in one lifetime. By comparison, we’re not doing all that badly.

  10. 10
    Mary T says:

    I’m a pretty optimistic person, even if it is a little forced at times. I have long been aware of the advantages of keeping a good attitude. I have always been aware of how blessed my life is. I try to avoid negativity. For myself, when I feel a little blue, I look for something to laugh at. I don’t know exactly why laughing works so well for me – but it does.

    • 10.1

      There’s a TON of data about the power of laughter, and I know when my daughter was at one of her lowest points, reading Dave Berry could still make her laugh. If she could laugh, I could be a little less anxious, and when is that a bad idea?

  11. 11
    Amy Ikari says:

    Happy Sunday! I think that three main sources of my optimism are my faith and gratitude to the Lird, the wonderful people I am privileged to call family and friends, and my wonderful books. 2017 has been a year of continuing health challenges since I had an infection then surgery and am still healing from this ailment. Also, my mother had two falls and is now facing open heart surgery. I admit I was scared when I was sent home for home health care and I did not get a good response for almost a week. I had to go once to the emergency room, but I decided I had to trust the Lord and be positive. My PCP was so supportive and did all she could. Her help resulted in a wonderful wound specialist and I am thankful to the Lord. Being restricted in activities and plagued with uncertain levels of energy, books have given me comfort, joy, laughter and inspiration. I also am thankful that I am healing regardless of how slowly. When I read your books Ms. Burrowes, I ask enthralled that everyone faces challenges, can make bad decisions, encounter hostility and yet can overcome. So thank you for your books.

    • 11.1

      Yikes, this has NOT been an easy year for you! Let’s hope that you’ve turned the corner and the worst of the challenges are behind you.

      You know, it’s interesting: I get the same rewards from writing the books that my readers seem to get from reading them, as if we’re sitting around the same fireplace, laughing at the same one-liners, worrying for the same characters. I love that.

      I hope you’re recovery picks up the pace, Amy, and that you have many good books to keep you company as you’re on that journey.

  12. 12
    Glenda says:

    I always have reasons to optimistic. On the work front, I have an awesome team who want to learn and do well, and more people are coming into the store to shop. We aren’t yet profitible but my bosses are optimistic since we are ahead of their projected timeline.

    On the home front, my kids are both doing well. My son is loving his jobs that not only help him pay his bills but also make it possible for him to work on his Masters ( and then PhD ) without having to pay tuition. He’s also making progress in his experiments. My daughter is closer to earning her double major bachelors degree. She survived a month in Alaska during this ‘heavy bear activity’ summer – and had a great time while there. She and her boyfriend have a great relationship with excellent communication (key to any relationship). Neither of them is sure what they want to do after graduation but they are discussing ways to attend the same universities for future degrees.

    • 12.1

      Wow–that’s a lot of family plates, spinning at high RPMs! Sounds like it’s all spinning in a positive direction, though. I hope your store is soon filled with power shoppers, and that the offspring continue to move toward their goals.
      Don’t know about those heavy-bear-activity excursions, though.

  13. 13
    Kassia Pereira says:

    Hi Grace,
    Greetings from Oban!
    Scotland is really very good to my heart, my mood and fiils me with joy… i even tried haggis… and its not so bad…after 40 years of dreaming of coming to Scotland its a reality today.. i totally understand why so many romance novels writers write stories here. As i sit here having coffee and looking at the boats in the water and think about my life, I am enjoying the moment and building memories… filled with joy …big hug…

    • 13.1

      Oh, lordy. Kassia’s in the Highlands, and a part of her will never leave there. I’m glad your dream has come true, and that Scotland hasn’t let you down (not that it could). Have a wee dram for me, and love every minute of your trip.

  14. 14
    anne egger says:

    I guess it is all about attitude. Life is by no means perfect. But do you respond to it or react to it? My husband had oral surgery yesterday. I am grateful to say he is doing well. It was a little scary. He is home with his pain meds. I am at work, but I am being criticized for not staying home with him. I got a raise at work, but few people said congratulations. I know my husband will be fine. I know that I deserve a raise. I guess as long as I know the truth, that is what counts.

    • 14.1

      Interesting, isn’t it, that people who’ve never met your spouse are presuming to tell you how to be his wife. I can promise you that when I am not at my best, all I want is to be left ALONE. Go ‘way, and let me be the one to say when I need help and how to help me. Seems like after decades of marriage, you’re the one best qualified to say whether hovering over Mr. Egger or giving him space to recover in peace is the best course.

      Congratulations on the raise, and to heck with people who can’t be gracious about somebody else’s success.

  15. 15
    Cathy Knapp says:

    Before the new school year begins, I am usually very optimistic about how I will be an absolutely fabulous 7th grade English teacher. I will prepare engaging lessons, read all of their writing immediately, be popular with even the kids who “hate English,” and not have any negative parent interaction, and all of my students will score high on state tests (even if I don’t spend the whole year teaching to the test).
    Now, however, I am officially retired from teaching, and I am giddy with optimism. I have vacations planned, weekday lunch dates peppering my calendar, workout buddies encouraging me to meet them for the 9:00 A.M. classes, and plenty of time to read with no need to feel guilty about not grading paragraphs and essays. Although I have an abundance of projects in the idea stage (including writing and arts and crafts that I never had time for while I worked 10 hours a day), I feel that anything I accomplish is a plus with no negative points for the things left undone. Of course, since I am blessed with loving family and friends, optimism is not difficult. I just don’t look in the mirror very often and am thankful I am still able to make the effort at the gym.

    • 15.1

      Thank you for all your years in the classroom. That’s a tough job on a good day. When my daughter chose home-schooling over the traditional classroom, I had a similar sense of overwhelming relief: No more lock-step schedule five days a week, no more hustling to get out the door in the morning, no more watching her become increasingly grim as the year wore on, no more sinking feeling as the first day of school dragged inevitably closer.

      Your retirement plans sound lovely, and by all means, keep writing on that list!

  16. 16
    Karen Markuson says:

    I think that it is important to take one day at a time. I like to deal with each day to the best of my ability and not overly worry about tomorrow. I live in the moment. I think when making changes you need to start slow, take baby steps. If you overwhelm yourself you are not going to get very far. I try to remember what I taught my children about the β€œLittle Engine That Could – “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.”

    • 16.1

      That is a terrific little story, and has stuck with me for fifty years. When training a horse, one of defining characteristics you look for is the horse’s willingness to “try,” to try to figure out what you want, to try again if the first guess is wrong. Cherishing and promoting the “try,” in those slow, careful, baby steps you talk about, is what allows great leaps farther down the path.

  17. 17
    Margie says:

    I absolutely know the tealight feeling. This week as I was dragging along I got a great picker-upper when my copy of To Scot to Handle was automatically downloaded. Thank you for putting a smile on my face, a spring to my limp and a good night’s sleep after I finished the novel. If I didn’t love my husband of 35+ years so much I’d be in love with Colin!

  18. 18
    Aly P says:

    I find optimism in knowing that when I get home I can read a good book, or that I can cook something that I like, or that in a number of days/weeks/months I can go on vacation somewhere fabulous πŸ™‚

    • 18.1

      Having something to look forward to is sooooo important. Could not agree more. I’m mighty keen on having good books to read or write, too, but that cooking business… I’ll be glad there are people like you who enjoy it, so people like me have more time to write!

  19. 19
    Ming Chong says:

    I know the topic is of ‘get happy and old’ – I fit the latter bit. I just finished reading The Soldier and was touched by the sensitivity to the subject of PTSD and always the lovely slow development of tenderness and warm feelings between hero and heroine (these two terms are so mundane as we are all human and all are heros and heroines?). Maybe that’s why my last relationship didn’t work because the guy didn’t display the tenderness, thoughtfulness and gentle understanding. So at 66, can I continue to dream of the person who will add to my half full glass?