Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Optimism - Learned or Inherited?

A customer at the estate sale this past weekend came up to me and said, "Oh, this is so sad to see someone's "life" be sold off like this."  I quickly corrected the customer by saying, "Ron and Ruth were blessed!  They worked hard, had a beautiful home, were surrounded by their sons and grandchildren - these items are just things - that reflect a life well lived."  

It had me wondering, why is it, some people seem to find the "silver lining" and others the "black cloud" in situations.  Is optimism learned or inherited?  So, what did I do, I googled it. 

This is what WebMD has to say:  http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20110916/optimism-partly-in-your-genes

"Researchers have zeroed in on a possible genetic basis for optimism, self-esteem and mastery (the belief that you have control over your own life and destiny).  It's rooted in the hormone oxytocin, also known as the love or cuddle hormone."  

This little bit of extra genetic material on the oxytocin receptor gene may influence personality traits.  The lack of it or combination of this genetic material may also determine our tendency to be the opposite even depressed.  

"Genes predict behavior, but they are not the be-all, end-all.  There is a lot of room for environmental variations, like how you were raised and the life experiences that you have had."  

"There are genes that influence the way you process emotional information, and this gene affects the way you see the world.  But that doesn't mean you can't change the way you look at the world."  

I love that last quote from the article!  

Using my siblings as examples, I can come to a bit of a conclusion myself.  I am a firm believer in birth order in relationship to personality traits as well.  The 6 of us were raised in a Christian, loving home by the same dad and mom.  Each of us came at different "life stages" for our parents - which I do believe affects our individual life experiences.  I was the last and there is 7 years between me and my sister, Lori.  My parents were older and wiser in their parenting by the time I came along.  However, the basic moral compass we were parented with, was the same.  

I've noticed that the individual reaction to the same situation is different from each of my siblings.  The effect of or resolution, often times brings about a different response from each of us as well.  This leads me to believe that the gene receptor theory is true.  

Have you ever been told by the doctor, "you have a chemical imbalance" when prescribed anti-depression or anxiety medicine?  This must be the lack of or combination of optimism (oxytosin) gene.  Or that is my conclusion at least.

The article on WebMD leads me to believe we are all "prone" to be optimistic based on our genetic makeup.  We also can choose to be optimistic.  I know I've posted this over and over, but; each day we experience things that gives us a choice - choice to be happy or sad, bitter or glad - choices.

As I was writing this post, my phone rang.  It was a friend who said..."good morning sunshine."  I laughed and she said, "Jacky, you are the most upbeat person I know, even at the flea market and all those people are pestering you...you always smile."  What a confirmation of my writing this post.

Now, I may not always be willing to be upbeat, but it is my choice.  It is yours as well.  

Blessings from Ringle, Wisconsin.  

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