For years, Mr G has been periodically something of a pessimist - a little cautious, a little anxious, a little wary. Not a lot, but a little, and not always, but regularly.
I think natively, he's more of an optimist (he was as a little child), but he also is enough of an odd duck that he has developed some caution. And then maybe too much caution, for a while. At school, he had a series of conflicts that left him feeling a bit iffy last year, like he didn't have skills and he didn't have ability. He started stringing those together into a series of unfortunate events, and that made everything bad.
So we talked (because we're lecture-y like that), and talked. I proposed the research-based perspective that optimists get more good events in life in part because they are always on the watch for the good thing, they know it is coming but don't know from where, or when. Eyes open, watching, waiting, and see, there! and there, again! Research shows that it isn't that life is so different for optimists and pessimists, but that pessimists miss opportunities because they are not seeking them with quite the same constancy that optimists do.
That was last year. Lecture over, I left it alone. Mostly. But over the summer, ignored it, let other things be important.
And then today, ep tells me that Mr G is loving school, loving it loving it loving it. When he was asked for more information about what/how/why, Mr G said, "I decided that every day was going to be good."
Elaborating, he clarified that he had made the choice to see every day as promising good things, and so he is finding he is always noticing the good things that happen. He's learning stuff, he's doing well on tests, he has adventures and talks to friends and discovers something new. Every day is amazing.
And he's also aware that this was a choice. He chose to look for the good. And see, there it is!
Damn, if only I'd known before I was 12 that happiness could be a choice. Heck, before 20.
I didn't learn to be an optimist until late high school, and even then it wasn't something I thought was a choice. It coincided (probably not incidentally) with me growing 6 inches in one year (4 in the summer), and suddenly being taller than my peers. My confidence shot up with my height, and I went from being fairly introverted and shy (both) to being rather a lot bold. The bold I think is what confused the issue on Introvert vs. Extravert - certainly I was way more out there, and that's when I started being a lot more, er, friendly (dating a lot more, that is). And those successes rolled into a sense of being successful, and attractive, and powerful, and probably arrogant and annoying, too.
So here I am, now. I still choose to be happy, to see the opportunities, to look for the chances. It takes effort some days, but that's okay - it is a choice I'm willing to make.
And so is Mr G.