Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

Do you want the Good News or the Bad News first?

on April 22, 2014

Disney World

Recently someone said to me “Bad news hits you in the gut right away, but sometimes it takes good news a while to sink in.” It’s true – I seem to accept bad news immediately, even to the point of acting on it before I have the whole story, but I’m reluctant to believe good news when I get it. Why is that?

I’m pretty sure I didn’t come here this way; I seem to remember believing it when my parents gave me good news, like when they told me that we were going to Disney World. I don’t recall my seven-year-old self looking at my father skeptically and saying “Are you sure? Disney World? Really?” I just jumped up and down screaming with delight.

So I must have lost it somewhere along the way, the willingness to immediately believe it when something good happens. As I’ve aged I have not only become reluctant to believe that something good has happened, but I have also learned to readily believe it when I hear that  a bad thing has happened or is about to happen to me. Of course, as an adult I know how to sift through the facts before jumping to conclusions; I am famous for not believing much of what I’m told and practically nothing I read, so I might not fully accept the bad news right away, but what I will do is have an emotional reaction to it. Depending on how secure I’m feeling at the moment the bad news hits, I will either immediately freak out or calmly accept it as fact. Rarely can I hear bad news and not have a visceral reaction, especially when I’m feeling vulnerable to the whims of forces beyond my control.

Why is it so much easier to believe that things are going wrong than to believe that things are going right? I’m not a pessimist, but I do think I dwell on the disappointments in my life more than the joys. It’s something I’m working on, but I know I’m not alone; according to some reading I’ve done we humans are much more likely to obsess about what we’ve lost or what we might lose than we are to focus on what we have gained or stand to gain. It’s our nature. We hate to lose, and even when we win we don’t really enjoy it, because, you know, eventually it’s all going to go away anyway, right?

I don’t walk around waiting for the other shoe to drop, though I did for a long time. My financial situation has become less precarious, which makes it easier for me to focus more attention on the good stuff in my life. But I do still expect to be disappointed. I think it’s how I insulate myself; if I’m prepared to be let down, then the actual event should be less traumatic. I don’t know if that’s true but it’s how I’ve approached most situations in my life – jobs, clients, relationships. I have just recently become aware of the extent to which I do it, and to realize it’s not the best way to live my life.

I’m sure I will continue to get bad news; that’s life. What I’m trying to do now is to stop anticipating it. Bad things happen to everyone. Good things happen, too. I’m trying to keep focused on the good things. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be disappointed now and then, but if I consciously dwell on the good things I figure I’ll be happier in the meantime.

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Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.

photo credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc

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