Optimism, happiness, and being young

Someone remarked that I’m clearly an optimistic person, and asked me how old I was. When I told him that I’m 28, he laughed and said that I’m optimistic because I’m young, and that he’s cynical because he’s 35 and part of Generation X (and older and wiser and more experienced, probably his unspoken continuation).

I thought I’d write about this because it’s something that comes up from time to time, as if happiness and optimism are exclusive to the young and naïve.

Oddly, I never hear it from people who are also happy and optimistic. I know someone who’s well into his eighties and who is somehow more energetic and bubbly than I am. I have role models who are wonderfully engaged with work and life. That’s what makes it easy for me to grin and let the stereotyping slide right off my back. I know something many cynical people don’t accept: that it’s possible to be delighted with life without necessarily letting myself be pushed around by it. I know that because other people have shown it’s possible.

I’m patiently waiting for the time when people won’t conflate my happiness with these other confounding factors, when silver hair and wrinkled skin throw happiness into sharper relief. Then people will tell me it’s easy to be happy with such a lucky life. That’s okay. People will always find reasons.

In the meantime, for other people who are in the same boat: Life is pretty good. Some people will tell you that you only think so because you don’t know much of it yet, but you don’t have to believe them. =)

  • http://timkastelle.org/blog/ Tim Kastelle

    You’re exactly right when you say “people will always find reasons.” They will. These are conversations where the other person is actually saying a whole lot more about themselves than they are about you, despite what they think.

    I can tell you from experience though that as you age, one of the side effects of this is that people think you’re a LOT younger than you really are – which is something you’ll appreciate once you get to my age!

    Don’t let anyone dent your optimism Sacha – it’s a great asset.

    • http://sachachua.com Sacha Chua

      Thanks for the encouragement! <grin> I’m looking forward to enjoying the benefits. Although it’s all right to grow old gracefully and celebrate getting there, so I don’t need to be mistaken for the six-year-old that I sound like! =)

  • http://www.trajano.net/ Archimedes Trajano

    Um I don’t think it’s a factor of age. I am cynical as well, but I think you show everyone a great example regardless of age.

    People tend to just be cynical by default. Think of how some of us are brought up with regards to voting.

    My opinion, keep at it and show everyone else up.