Taking the risk of being happy: a pessimistic Scot’s approach


A post from our Project Manager @rosiehopes

My brother-in-law had a 1000 to one gambling win this week. Twenty grand, right before Christmas. Great news, isn’t it?

Well, you’d think so, but when I contacted my sister to congratulate her, she wasn’t ready to celebrate.

“I don’t like it,” she said. “Something bad will happen.”

And I kind of knew what she meant. We’re from a coastal town in North East Scotland. We’re not religious, but I suspect there’s a Calvinist influence somewhere along the way.  It’s not done to get too excited over the good things; you never know if there’s something bad waiting around the corner. Us Scots can barely enjoy a rare period of sunny weather without somebody saying:

“Aye, but we’ll pay for it in the winter.”

I reminded my sister that, only the day before, her middle son had vomited all over her baby in the grip of norovirus. Surely that was enough bad luck to balance things out?

It makes me laugh, but I definitely share her reticence at getting too comfortable with good news. I have felt remarkably happy recently. Things, for the most part, have been going really well. But it’s difficult to just let go and enjoy being happy when you have a nagging suspicion that you’ll be made to pay for it soon enough.

My other sister chipped in with a suggestion:

“Someone will get ill.”

I know that the modern, Californian, positive thinking approach to this is to embrace positivity. Be optimistic, think happy thoughts and you’ll attract more happiness to your life. But that doesn’t fit with our family mindset. We’ve definitely inherited our dad’s  philosophical approach to optimism.

“Always expect the worst: that way you’ll never be disappointed.”

I think I have found a way to enjoy happy times that fits with our more cynical, pessimistic viewpoint. I know for sure that there will be tough times ahead and that no amount of positive thoughts will stop that.

But neither will the negative ones! Feeling miserable today won’t prevent it any more than feeling happy will tempt fate. So why not make the most of it when things are good?

In fact, the certain knowledge that things will go wrong at some point, makes me even more grateful for being happy today.

It’s definitely not positive psychology, but it works for me.









, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply