Optimism: a new day dawns

As the days become shorter (and inevitably wetter) and with uncertainty still looming over the end of a rocky 2020, this week’s Bristol Wellbeing College blog entry explores the vital yet often errant feeling of Optimism.

The piece below were contributed by attendants of our Writing with Emotions session, whereby we explore primary, secondary and tertiary levels of emotion through writing. Optimism itself may be regarded as a secondary emotion. According to Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (American Scientist, Vol. 89, 2001), a secondary emotion is less intense than one of our eight primary (joy, sadness, acceptance, disgust, fear, anger, surprise and anticipation). Being underlying, it is not immediately apparent in our behaviour or physiology. Often, a secondary emotion is born of a mixture of two primary ones: optimism would stem from joy and anticipation.

Through the practice of writing we can identify what our underlying secondary emotions are and channel these into an external body, thereby allowing ourselves space for reflection. It can also help carry us into a more positive emotional space if we choose. In this session, for example, we did so by describing the textures, sounds, sights and smells of Optimism. The results were varying as they were moving. Though Optimism takes on a different physicality in the mind’s eye of every individual, in each of its guises it is relatable, and remains one of the most contagious and connecting emotional experiences within the human condition. 

Optimism smells of citrus fruits washing the body with fresh vigour. 

It is held in the ochres of a sunrise where the dark separates to a new day dawning. 

It feels like the first sip of tea in the morning where the senses are reawakened. 

It flies like a solo bird encircling the sky above me in its private dance of the skies. 

By Ally

Optimism is arms outstretched and undulating on the wind as it blows from lands distant, continues to oceans unknown, and sings towards lands yet to be known.

It is peaks reaching white-capped into the rosy sky, and the promise of infinity in the stretch of pale green horizon.

It is a spider, translucent in the dawn, clambering to the centre of her jewelled web

and waiting.

By Ali

A little girl, start of the school year, smell of patent polished shoes, freshly ironed gingham dresses, and new pencil cases. Excited voices carrying across the yard and the hopeful, definite sound of the school bell. The breeze of a warm September morning tickling the backs of legs. The huge, open school year stretching before, full of promise and potential.

By Del

Jimmy was 11 years old, and this was an average Sunday afternoon.

The sounds of a boy with his basketball, into a hoop near the   garage 

 Bam Bam Bam the basketball hits the concrete  pavement

Mom in the kitchen listening to a podcast about  something social , the whizz of the cake mixer blending the ingredients, his father in the library tapping on the computer , doing some work at home on this quiet Sunday, in the background he had some gentle classical music on, his sister on the smart phone as usual. Playing Tik Tok

An ice cream truck was going down the street, ringing the bell so all the children could beg their parents for some soft ice cream.

A plane flying overhead

The sounds of cars passing by their house.

Each person wrapped in their own little world on a calm day, a Sunday.

Jimmy noticed a drone up in the sky, some kid playing  with it … then another drone  These things must be getting popular I’ll ask dad to get one for me

Bam Bam Bam, whizz clicketty clicktaptaptap. Voices talking music playing, an airplane overhead.

Then,  all of a sudden 

It stopped,

everyone stopped

everything stopped

Jimmy was the first to speak

 “Mom, Dad , where are all the noises ?…”

By Elizabeth Burns (Susan Mateos). Read the complete story here.

You can find our more about the Bristol Wellbeing College here, eligibility and signing up to their workshops.

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