Optimistic: It’s been said that optimists look at life from a “glass half full” point of view, whereas pessimists look at life as a “glass half empty.” I am strongly in the “glass half full” category. And, I notice how lovely the glass is.
I’ve alway approached life with a somewhat postive outlook. Then, nearly five years ago, I was diagnosed with a potentially aggressive cancer. As expected, my reactions were all negative, with feelings of fear, anger, despair, and doom.
Sometime during the course of my 18 months of rigorous treatment, I noticed a distinct change in my attitude towards life. I felt stronger than I ever had before. Without my conscious efforts, I turned to making the best of the life I have now.
Alex Linley, a prominent scholar in the field of Positive Psychology, identifies this as “growth through adversity.” I felt stronger, kinder, and paradoxically more in control of my life than I ever had before.
Traveler: I have loved to travel my entire life. I remember the excitement of getting into the car, seeing different sights along the highways, then stopping at a new place, with strange smells and exotic views.
I often joke that my brothers and I grew up in the backseat of the car. That cliche is not a far stretch from the reality of my early life. My first cross-country road trip was at 6 months of age, and my first cross-country flight was at 10 months, in a single-engine plane. And that’s just the beginning. My father joined the U.S. Air Force when I was five years old. We moved to a new location, new house, new school, usually across the country, nearly every year. My first “international” travel was a trip to Mexico when I was ten. When I was in high school, we moved to Spain and lived there for several years.
Things were no different when I grew up, except the household moves were spread out to every two to three years, including three years living in England. From there, we traveled to France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Sweden, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands, and all around the British Isles.
More recently, though, we have stayed in the same area and the same house, and boredom set in. I got “itchy feet” and longed to travel again, but responsibilities and finances got in the way. We waited for a “better” time to travel afar.
Then came the cancer, which shook up my world, to say the least. After a year of agressive treatment, I decided that the time to travel again had come, instead of waiting for some time far in the future when everything was “right.” There was a possibility I wouldn’t live long enough for the time to be right.
So, I returned to my life as a traveler, with gusto. Our first trip was a walking tour in Tuscany, six weeks after I completed radiation treatment. And I was hooked again.