I'm also quite sure (who am I kidding - positive) there is a gene that influences this as I don't even have to make a conscious choice to see the world this way. My early life challenged this mind set over and over, but I always knew I would rise above. Still, sometimes it takes a monumental event to kick it into high gear.
I went to Africa in May of 2000 and it changed my life. I went with my husband and some friends on a two week photo safari to Kenya and Tanzania. I shot 27 rolls of film (for those of you younger that me, film is the stuff pictures used to be printed from - little canisters- 27 of them), got some great pics, great memories, and had two profound realizations:
When we landed on the airstrip at the Serengeti, I walked out of the plane and felt . . . like I was home. I've never had that sensation before or since and I can only explain it on a genetic level . . . home. Nothing - not the plants, the animals, the smells, nor the feel of the air was the same as my physical home, but it was somehow incredibly familiar and comforting.
The other thing about Africa is that the people were happy, content - with NOTHING. They built their roads by hand (seriously by hand - I saw them) and earned maybe 300.00 per year, but they were so surely "in the land" - in the cradle of civilization - and they were happy.
I live in the United States of America. I have a job. I have a roof over my head. I am rich beyond measure compared to most of the world.
I was truly humbled.
And I was newly positive and happy in a way that has never left me.
I was so happy in fact that I quit my job (because I was lucky enough to be able to), stayed home with my son (who was then 3) for four years, and then when I was bored I went back to work.
More wonderful material things have come to me since I stopped working FOR them and just worked for the joy of it. Call me silly, but being positive and grateful really are the keys to being happy. Not stuff. Never stuff.
People are a given though - gotta have the peeps.
Being positive is not without its drawbacks.
I recently began a new job which involves learning lots of new things and managing a staff of . . . some, let's just say some. Anyway, it feels challenging but not overwhelming, and I am positive that I can be good at it within a few months. One of my staff asked me (very nicely) if I had any concept of what was going on . . . did I get it?
It suddenly occurred to me that I appeared clueless because I was so happily and positively taking on a challenge. My words reassured her that I was not oblivious, but I hope my actions reassure her even more.
I get it. I really do.
How can anyone be happy and positive if they have any idea of what the reality of the world is these days? The economy, the instability in the Middle East, work pressures to do more with less, violent and strange weather all over the world, the threat of CME's (Coronal Mass Ejections which frankly scare me the most - what if we lose computers???!!! E-gads).
Is anything made better by being negative? No
Is anything made better by being positive? Yes
It seems to me like the most obvious thing in the world, but maybe I'm just lucky.
I have written two novels so far - because I am positive that I can do it. It is such a monumental task that I don't think you can take it on unless you know it can be done. Doing it well and actually getting published is a whole other story, but the fact that I have finished and am currently revising two novels gives me great satisfaction.
I haven't written much about writing here lately, but I think it speaks to motivation of character if you analyze global mind sets like positive vs negative. From which side does your character view the world? Right, left, dexter, sinister, positive, negative - it is a starting point for motivation of action that supersedes all others. Experience and environment can modify a basic tendency, but your character is at his/her core a positive or negative being.
Which side are you on?