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Friday, June 10, 2011

Optimism bias vs Groundhog Day

A story in Time magazine was called The Optimism Bias*. It spoke to what I see happen in my life, much of the time.

I wake up. I have yet to use my eyes. I feel fine. It's today. Today it will be fine. Today I will be fine. Then I stretch. As I do my eyes move in the direction of one of my arms and then up to the ceiling. Oh no, I think as my face scrunches up in an expression of distaste, hurt, disbelief, some anger (some days more than some). The pain is still there. But it was supposed to be gone by today.

Most of my life is also like Groundhog Day, the movie.

I want to have somewhere to go, someone to play with, somebody to do things with. I want those things but I also do not want the pain.

I am finding as I get older I am more loathe to do things that I know will bring on the pain. Go to the store today? Even though it is only by myself, I find the answer is often a No. I do not want to go, look at all that is there and by doing so set off the pain. I hate staying in but I hate the pain and the drugged sensation even more. So today I stay in. Tomorrow I have somewhere I must go, and want to go. It is to a picnic but the dread is also there. How painful is this going to be?

Everyday, the same. I have the hope but I cannot repress the truth. I put it out to the Universe: Please, let the pain not be there tomorrow. The Universe does not answer, not about this part of the pain.

So it is strange. Because I still go to bed each night, expecting that I will wake the next morning, that expectation an article of faith, an act of optimism. Unless we are at the deepest level of despair the thought of another day brings the chance of new experiences, new possibilities, new life, a day without the pain. Optimism.

My optimism goes even further. I see what I often think of as an idiocy inside myself. How can I still think tomorrow will be different? And sometimes an even stranger and more optimistic thought: It will be over, almost as if none of this had ever happened. I will be back to where I was when it started. Not necessarily 30 years younger, which would be nice, but at a point where most of life's possibilities still stretch before me.

Even when it seems the stupidest of thoughts, it is the optimism that lets us, that lets me, put my one foot in front of the other.



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*Here is the full article:
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2074067,00.html

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