Archives for posts with tag: Outlook

In 1990’s Scotland there was a great series of TV adverts designed to reinforce our recall of the Tennent’s lager brand by judicious use of words ending in their big red capital T. Younger readers may also be familiar with the summer festival T in the Park, which does exactly the same thing.

Anyway, these ads featured the pouring of half of a glass of Tennent’s in front of someone, who either laughed with joy or cried with sadness, depending on whether they were an glass-half-full optimisT or a glass-half-empty pessimisT.

These days we’re under increasing pressure – perhaps it’s our gradual Americanisation – to be incorrigibly upbeat and optimistic about everything. Our positive outlook alone will affect the outcome. It’s the positive spin we put on life and especially in marketing. This is true in parts. I’ve always described myself as a realist, occupying the halfway house, a hope-for-the-best-plan-for-the-worst space in between the two characteristics.

The other day I was chatting to my son who can sometimes be sweepingly downbeat in that glum teenagerish way. I told him he was sounding like a pessimist. ‘I’m not a pessimist Dad,’ he countered, ‘I’m a non-delusional realist.’

Which opens up a whole new can of worms. Is that the same thing as a pessimist, or is it a qualification of a realist, or is it suggesting there are many shades on the pessimist-optimist spectrum, or many grades to the axis?

I know, thinking too much…

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These days when you ask an English person how they are, you still hear something along the lines of ‘Not too bad, can’t complain.’ I don’t think you hear it from the younger generations.

When I use the phrase I often add the comment, ‘much as I’d like to’, with what I imagine is a dry, worldly smile. I probably look like I’m in pain, which I guess would give me something to complain about.

For a lot of us English folk though, being ready to complain seems to be our default position. I guess that’s why we attract the ‘whingeing poms’ sobriquet. The phrase- can’t complain, not wingeing poms – is a pretty old one, so perhaps it originated from a time when, for most people, actually there was quite a lot to complain about. It also reminds me of the joke about the elderly Jewish gentleman in hospital. ‘Are you comfortable?’ the nurse asks. ‘I make a living’, he replies. He might as well have said ‘can’t complain’.

It is, I suppose, an example of using a negative phrase to reinforce a positive sentiment. I used to date a lady from the US who when she saw a handsome man would whisper to me ‘not too shabby…’

To give another example, my wife hates it when I describe a meal as ‘not bad’, ‘not too bad’ or even ‘not bad at all’. She doesn’t accept my protestations that they are all complimentary, as dictated by the tone I use to say them. To us English folk, not bad is good, not too bad is very good and not bad at all is very good indeed.

 

All good things must come to an end, or so the saying goes. The implication being that they wouldn’t be good things otherwise.

This is usually my standard retort when my daughter is complaining about the limits on her screen time, the last day of a holiday, or the time she has to come back from a friend’s house.

Sometimes this is a hard argument for me to make, as it would take a long time for an extended holiday to become boring and not like a holiday, I think. To a child, the idea that all good things need to have an end-point is a hard one to grasp.

When this conversation was last revisited in our house, I offered my standard objection-handling response, to which my daughter replied, ‘Yeah, if they didn’t come to an end, they’d be great things.’

Which got me thinking: why should all good things have to come to an end? Furthermore, why do we even have that mindset, namely that if one thing is good then another thing we don’t enjoy as much can’t be good as well?

Shouldn’t we strive to make good things everlasting, for our customers, friends, family, so that they might at least last longer? Shouldn’t we strive to make the less good things good as well, by working harder to make them enjoyable and goal-oriented?

There is a certain type of person, a certain type of character, that it’s unhealthy to be around for too long. I call this person the Good Vibe Vortex, or GVV for short.

The GVV is not a positive person. Stuff happens to the GVV. Sometimes it’s of their own making, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes they don’t even know they are a GVV, sometimes they do.

The GVV is hard work, they’re painful company. They suck away your positivity like a hoover, and you can feel your good vibes, your good energy, the great mood you were in, ebbing away. They are depleting your life force. It’s not simply what they say, there’s something about their whole aura that spells ‘d-o-w-n-e-r’.

This person is not always as obvious as the blue character in the film Inside Out but you get a feeling pretty quickly that they are someone who sees only – and therefore gets bogged down by – the sad, the hurdles, the difficulty. And lo and behold, the self-fulfilling prophecy occurs and stuff happens to them again, taking you with it if you’re not careful.

Yes, beware the GVV. Beware the invasion of the good vibe-snatchers…