From Carolyn Hax's "Tell Me About It" chat on 10/9:
Is it easier to be unhappy?: I recently read one of your columns where you said it was easy to be unhappy. Do you think it's easier to be unhappy? With now many years of experience under your belt, why do you think people protect their bitterness, anger, weaknesses and past truamas to the end,no matter what they lose? I've watched some people lose almost everything and everyone in order to hang on to what a friend called "their triumphant unhappiness."
Carolyn Hax: I love that phrase, please thank your friend for it.
Yes, I do think it's easier -day-to-day- to be unhappy. meaning, when we're faced with these little decisions about how to perceive something, it's always a little bit easier to blame than it is to celebrate (how often is it "another bleeping meeting," vs. a chance to leave your desk, see some people, scam a donut?), and it's always a little bit easier to put that blame on someone/something else.
Long run, those little easy choices make life -so- much harder, which is what life amounts to when you're pessimistic and/or fundamentally negative. You choose to accept a lower allotment of joy.
The reason I think it's harder in the short run to choose celebration over blame is that you have to take responsibility for more of your own bad outcomes, you have to be grateful for what you have when you're plainly receiving less than someone else, and you have to make a conscious decision to assess individuals and discrete situations solely on their merits, instead of just lumping them all into some category of Things You Already Know. In other words, you have to assign yourself to the role of student in life, instead of the more secure feeling Master of All Knowledge.
Choosing optimism is choosing vulnerability and humility on an ongoing basis, and that's often in conflict with our nature.