“Happy in spite of”

I must admit that the automobile accident I described in our last blog post and the dismal reality of the cost of a new car have thrown me into a January, beginning-of-the-year, end-of-the-holidays depression.

Everyone gets depressed sometimes. And, sometimes, only time is the cure.

I am reminded, however, of one of the lessons from Dr. Karl Pillemer’s book Thirty Lessons for Living—Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.

Dr. Pillemer and his colleagues interviewed more than a thousand Americans over 65 and asked them to share their wisdom. One of those interviewed was Marguerite Renaud, 80, who said:

“Lots of unpleasant things are going to happen to you in life, and, when they do, you have two choices. You can mope and sulk and feel sorry for yourself, or you can put on a brave face and get on with your life.”

Her attitude is “happy in spite of,” says Dr. Pillemer. “This viewpoint contrasts with that of many people, which I’d call ‘happy if only.’”

You have to make a decision “to embrace a positive attitude,” he concludes.


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18 Responses to ““Happy in spite of””

  1. Karl Pillemer January 28, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Thanks so much for posting about my book! I am still pondering the question in your earlier post: Was it a perfect afternoon, or not?

    My guess is that the elders we interviewed for “30 Lessons for Living” would say what you have said in this post: Focus on what was positive and don’t worry about the negative – because as you look back from 90 or beyond, it’s the positive that counts!

    That said: sorry about the accident!


    • Resolute_Woman February 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      Dr. Pillemer–
      Thank you for leaving a comment on our blog.

      Yes, it was a perfect afternoon–even though the day ended with an unfortunate automobile accident–although I am glad no one posed the question to my daughter and me while we were returning to Dallas in a tow truck with our banged-up vehicle!

      Fayteen, my blog partner, and I are positive, happy-in-spite-of people, but we’ve discussed the question of balance.
      Can you be too positive?
      What’s the balance between being positive and being realistic about your circumstances?
      Sometimes does being overly positive keep you from taking action to make changes?
      Do you need to remember to be positive about the future and also work hard to make sure that positive things will happen?

      What do you think? I am interested in your response–and also in what you think your 1,000 elders would say. If you have time, I would love to do a phone interview. If you don’t and would like to send your comments in an e-mail message, that would be great.

      Thank you!

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