BYOH: Defensive Optimism

How to hack your own happiness buttons.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

That’s defensive optimism in a nutshell.

How can defensive optimism help you push your own happiness buttons? If you are any kind of a control freak, like I am, then you plan for everything, even things you only “think” will happen.

I am constantly mocked for this, but I’ve tried to be “more flexible” or “more spontaneous” in my life and found nothing but chaos turning my stomach. I don’t always let it show, but it definitely pushes my “fight or flight” buttons.

My days are mapped out from wake-up to sundown (I don’t have a bedtime schedule…anymore…but only because I was crashing out long before time was marked). I put my outfits together, the day before I plan to leave the house, right down to my hat, socks, and undies. I wake up with plenty of time to enjoy my morning coffee, a generous shower, and breakfast chat with my partner. I show up, at least, 15 minutes early for every appointment. I leave home with plenty of time to not worry about being stuck in traffic, if I have to drive and if I have to walk, I won’t have to jog to get where I’m going, in a timely manner. I even plan out when I will blog and what things to blog about.

On the weekends, I don’t plan for couple’s time, except to leave enough free time in my schedule for my partner, if we are both available in that time slot. We both have very busy schedules, so there is no “afternoon delight” or “morning workout”. Even if we are both available during the designated free time, we may only talk for a few hours, simply enjoying each others company.

During the week, I leave time unplanned in the afternoons and evenings so that I have time for myself, my partner, my kids, and my friends and family. That is the best time to plan something spontaneous, like going out for coffee with my partner or running to the hobby store because I want to price yarn or chatting on the telephone. Of course, that is also the time I plan other important errands, if I must, but usually, that time is free to let my guard down (very few people get in this space, unless, they are family or otherwise invited by me, personally).

I plan the family budget out for two months. It allows me to see where all the household monies go and it gives me a window into if/when there is fun-money or even emergency-funds available, in case we need to make adjustments on the fly. One time, future/potential, expenses get included, so we know when the best time is to utilize any “extra” funds or if they will even be available. We can also see if there is trouble in our finances and act, accordingly, but more, immediately.

I make note of things I want or need to remember. These notes help me stay on point, in meetings, but they also help me move my train of thought along fresh paths; seeing things in print may trigger alternative ideas, plans or theories on situations.

I plan for situations that have a tendency to be stressful or uncomfortable. For instance, if I know when I will have to deal with certain people, I may plan to have a back-up friend show up or I plan for a more hasty exit, than usual, so that I am not stuck with certain individuals for an undesirable length of time. I regularly have my partner cover for me, in the mornings, so I can get some of my work done with fewer interruptions. I still get interrupted and it is still stressful, but not as stressful as when I can’t rely on him to have my back. Just knowing that he will be available to me, in the future, also helps me to plan and prioritize my days, making them less stressful, because I know which things must be done, versus those things that can be put off a day or more.

I plan responses, ahead of time, to minimize conflict. There are often people that I have to deal with, who I can’t ignore, but who would not react, positively, if I actually spoke my mind. Sometimes it is hard to bite my tongue, but if I stick to my planned responses, even through gritted teeth, I can usually come away, relatively, unscathed.

I know a lot of people would say that being a defensive optimist is either, too much work or, too restrictive and I actually don’t argue with that. But, having lived this lifestyle for many years (at various levels of preparedness), it doesn’t feel like work at all, unless something drastic (like a new work schedule or an irregular appointment) forces me to re-work my current plan.

The way I see it is that I am preparing for those things that ARE in my power and planning for other things that are NOT in my power to control. It keeps me on task, on time, and productive.

People tease me for my defensive optimism, but they don’t mock the fact that I am dependable, reliable and I get things done with less muss and less fuss and that pushes my happiness buttons, too.

Feel free, to visit my Facebook page and tell me what kind of things that you do to push your own happiness buttons or drop a line in the comments section. I would really love to hear from you.

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