She's Got Words

August 6, 2009

Tolerance and the Misanthropic Mind

Filed under: soap boxes & stump speeches — Gigi @ 3:43 am

Last week I found myself standing on the tolerance side of a casual argument.  I often take the tolerance stance in most cases. Its what I’ve been taught all my life.  Compassionate understanding and acceptance is an easy enough concept to “teach”, but it isn’t always an easy concept to learn or adopt.

Unfortunately, even though I basically have a tolerant mind-set, I am not a tolerant person by any means.  Simply put:  I am a hypocrite– a misanthrope who wishes everyone else would just “get wise” and live how I want them to live, drive like I want them to drive, speak how I want them to speak… you get the picture.  I get angry when people park on my street when they aren’t supposed to, frustrated with my boss for being stupidly over protective of her own child and regularly I become indignant when life’s circumstances happen to catch me in an off mood.  What a way to live, ehe?

Only recently have I become aware of my self-applied double standards and how very unhappy this way of living has been making me.  Someone once told me that it takes more effort to be unhappy than it does to be happy.  It is an interesting notion, but is it really true for those of us who have learned, either by default or by association, to always see the glass as half empty?

I watched a program with Michael J Fox a few weeks ago and I suppose I started wondering all this then.  You see, Fox believes that you are born either optimistic or not.  That its in your genes, your DNA, whether or not you are predisposed to being happy or depressed– tolerant or misanthropic .  So looking back on my life– at my mother and my father– at the hand I’ve been dealt or dealt myself, depending, I still can’t decide if its all up to me or if it really is just in me to be a “debbie downer”.

While I still don’t have the answer, and true to my form I don’t think I will have an answer any time soon, I am sure that I am not going to wait around another 30 years to do anything about it.  I think the most important thing is to try to change.  To constantly strive to be what you want– isn’t that what life is all about in the end?  I might very well be pushing a boulder up a mountain side, but at least they can carve it into my tomb stone that the leopard tried to change its spots.



  1. I believe it takes more effort (for the non-ignorant person) to be happy. Because it’s easy to be unhappy; easy to resign yourself to some fate, blame the other person on your misfortune, etc. It takes effort to see through it and have faith that you and most of the world is good. And you can certainly change. Although I still have my moods, I certainly did.

    Comment by retrojoe — August 6, 2009 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  2. I had a comment about what you said about Fox’s belief that people are optimistic or pessimistic the majority of the time based on their genes.
    I speak for and from my personal experience only. I have been a rather pessimistic person for as long as I can remember and as I’ve stepped into the realm of reflection to improve myself I’ve understood how I got here. Life dealt me some terrible cards, and some amazing cards but ultimately the way I’ve dealt with the perfect storm that is my life, my place of comfort became a negative, down, and no self-confident place. But, and there is always a but, as I’ve spent the last two years analyzing, working, and drastically changing my day to day habits, I find my place of comfort shifting. I’m happier, more confident, and unfomfortable being sad.
    So… I applaud you for all that you’re striving for and know that you will acheive your goals. Because we’re not predestined to behave certain ways, we’re just creatures of habit. Our neuro pathways, over time will stick to the plan. But they will change, you are in control it just takes time.

    Thanks for giving me something to do while sipping a beer at the Minnesota airport (st paul). Be well.

    Comment by smorgans — August 7, 2009 @ 11:30 pm | Reply

  3. Let me preface this by saying most of these are my thoughts in general — I’m not talking specifically about you except where I say so. Also if I sound like a broken record, just kick me and maybe I’ll play some Sinatra or something instead. 🙂

    “Happiness” is a nebulous term. One can be happy with their circumstances, or not; happy with themselves, or not. Those are two distinctly different things, but many people fall into the trap of thinking that if they just get the right circumstances (find their soul mate, get that dream job, attain the acceptance of others, etc.), then they will be happy. But if they attain all of that and they’re not happy with themselves, then they will still be miserable half the time. I think that many people, in fact, distract themselves from self-happiness by concentrating on their circumstances, and I also think that finding happiness with one’s self is an important asset in being able to alter their circumstances in life. But working on oneself is monumentally difficult, and scary. One has to admit and accept that they are a flawed creature, and the scariest part of all is to admit that they can change that. Many people are paralyzed by the thought of failure, and would prefer not to try, than to try knowing that they might fail. But in this arena, the only way to fail is to give up — everything else is a temporary setback, a hurdle one just has to try at again and again until they get over it.

    I think that Michael J. Fox’s attitude is wrong, personally. Additionally, it’s an incredibly disempowering philosophy. I do think that chemically, people might be more predisposed to depression or happiness, but that isn’t to say that they’re destined to be happy or unhappy in life. On a base level, one can change their chemistry — for example, most cases of depression can be cured through a change of diet and regular exercise. Failing that, there is always the route of medication. Most people balk at that, probably in part because our society is so over-medicated in general. But for true cases of depression and other chemical imbalance, taking medication to correct it is the same as a diabetic person taking insulin.

    To put all of my babbling into concrete terms, I think you do have a predisposition toward stress. But you also have the power to be happy. It is an uphill battle, yes, but nothing worthwhile in life is easy. And as long as you don’t give up, you will succeed. “It does not matter how fast that you go; only that you do not stop.”

    Comment by Mike — August 9, 2009 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

  4. Thank you, boys, for your valued input. I think you each know how much you mean to me and for me to know you have taken time to read, think about and reply to my thoughts means the world. Thank you so much.


    Comment by Gigi — August 9, 2009 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

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