I’m Embracing Optimism as We Approach the New Year

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by Jaime Christmas |

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2021 has been a character-building year for me. I experienced challenges like never before, and I’m not just referring to the ones associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, I suffered the loss of my mother, my beloved pet dog, and my sister-in-law. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, a mentor whom I respect and look up to was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. If bad news comes in waves, this year has indeed been a tsunami of never-ending sorrow.

My husband’s health has also been a constant cause of concern. Aubrey was diagnosed in 2013 with hereditary ATTR amyloidosis, and the deterioration of his body, coupled with the losses we both have faced, have not made this an easy journey for him. The delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread in New Zealand, forcing us to isolate indoors. Life has become monotonous and stressful.

Yet, as we approach 2022, is it possible to leave the bad experiences behind us and look forward to the new year? Rather than focus on negativity and expect bad things, I want to be upbeat and confident that everything will work out in the end, no matter what happens. So, I am working on practicing optimism.

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Optimism is a positive expectation of a successful outcome. It is hoping that, regardless of past or present experiences, things can only get better. Optimism is seeing good things result from dire circumstances, and giving thanks for the good things in life. It is constantly looking for opportunities to make the most of things. Finally, optimism is maintaining a positive attitude about myself and others around me.

Optimistic people tend to live longer and be in better physical health than pessimistic people, as noted in a research article published in the journal Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health.

Psychologist Martin Seligman, considered the father of the positive psychology movement, introduced the concept of learned optimism. He believed that optimistic people create more positive synergy and perform better at tasks. Their can-do attitude causes them to strive to overcome anything, no matter the hurdles, and continue moving forward. Learning to be optimistic may help people to better handle setbacks and improve their mental health.

Having said this, I am also mindful that too much optimism can lead to toxic positivity. I do not want to view reality through rose-tinted glasses and ignore negative emotions. My goal is to look on the bright side of things, while still acknowledging that difficulties exist.

So, as we head into the last month of the year, I am keen to bid farewell to 2021, and hope we all fare better in 2022. I appreciate the training in grit and resilience this year has offered my loved ones and me.

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Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.

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