If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

There are many qualities and abilities I would like to have, so it’s hard to choose just one. When I think about how I wish I were different, though, I usually wish that I were less lazy. Or, alternatively, more organized. My life is very messy, and I don’t enjoy it. I don’t mean my life is messy as in “my life is a mess, it’s just one nightmare after another,” but my life is literally messy. My house is messy, my car is messy, my work space is messy, my calendar is messy–everything that could possibly be messy is messy. I can’t tell you that I personally don’t look somewhat slovenly most of the time. There was more of an excuse for it when my children were younger. Now I think it’s just habit.

Yes, laziness seems to be at the core of all my problems. But is it laziness or pessimism? Because half of the time my attitude isn’t just “I don’t feel like doing that” but “why should I bother?” I’d say I’m a really bad example for my children, except that I still work about a hundred times harder than they do, so it’s probably more accurate to say I was a bad genetic influence on them.

So what is the opposite of laziness? Hardworkingness? I don’t think that’s a word in English, though it might be one in German. (Probably.) What is the quality that I lack? Initiative? Gumption? Perseverance? Diligence? Or is it optimism? Do I lack the belief that I can make a difference in my own life? I’m 43, closing rapidly in on 44, and I think I have spent most of the last 18 years building a case for my own incompetence. I mentioned in my last blog post that people used to compliment me on my organization and efficiency. No one who knows me now would accuse me of having either of those qualities. Was I actually more organized and efficient back in the day, or was I just better at faking it? After all, no one ever saw all the stuff I never got done.

So I think if I had to choose one quality, I would choose to be more optimistic. I wish it were as simple as just choosing. I never have been optimistic, as a personality trait. I have experienced brief periods of optimism. Some have lasted as long as a few months (but I can’t say I’ve had one of those since the mid-1990s). But generally, I’m just pessimistic. I always have been. My parents, who knew me best as a child, would tell you this. I really can’t help it. I’ve tried to. (See “brief periods of optimism” above.) But ultimately, it’s just not in my nature.

Of course, if it suddenly were in my nature, I’d probably become a completely different person. This might astonish and possibly frighten the people closest to me, but I can’t imagine any of them would complain, since it would probably make me a better person. Of course, if I were an optimist, that would mean my husband and I would both be optimists, and possibly the whole balance of our marriage would be thrown off. But that’s the pessimist in me speaking.

Anyway, it’s not possible to wake up one morning and suddenly be improved. Even optimists know that.

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