My name is John, and I am an optimist. I can’t help it. I always have been. To be honest I don’t like being around non-optimists, often known as pessimists. This is especially so in these troubling pandemic times. I don’t care to read or talk about the end of the world as we know it. We should at least wait until next year.

Optimism is a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that an outcome, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favorable or desirable. It is the belief that future conditions will work out best.

I know I’m an optimist because I took an on-line test. It is called the Revised Life Orientation Test (LOT- R). Unlike COVID-19 tests, you don’t need a doctor’s orders to be tested for the condition. The test consists of a series of questions that you answer, on a sliding scale: 5 if you really agree to 1 if you really disagree. 

One question is: “In uncertain times, I usually expect the best.” Another is: “I’m always optimistic about my future.” I answered both questions “strongly agree.” I scored very high.

I don’t think we humans can really help who we are. We think we can, and government policy is based on the notion that we can. But each of us has an intricately connected web of nature and nurture that makes us who we are.

There is some inevitably squishy research that suggests optimism has a genetic component, and no doubt if like me nothing really bad has ever happened to you, optimism would be more likely.

Yet there is plenty of research that indicates some lottery winners are not optimists and some seriously and permanently injured are optimists. 

It is kind of hard to find optimism these days, but I try to carry on. I’m optimistic that I will not get COVID-19 from cardboard, produce or golf balls. I’m hopeful that my grandchildren can go back to school this fall and that Marsha and I can go out to eat in a couple of months. I believe the long lines at food pantries will shrink and people can go to church, albeit without that “kiss of peace” thing, which will be an enhancement to the service.

Just like being tall is helpful in basketball, being optimistic is helpful in a pandemic. You can’t help either. You are who you are.

I’m glad I’m optimistic. 

I’m optimistic I will continue to be so.

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John Hubbuch

John is an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976. He served on the District 97 school board, coached youth sports and, more recently, retired from the law. That left him time to become a Wednesday...