Some years ago, when I watched television, there was a series of anti-smoking ads from a group that called itself Truth–quite a daring name to choose–and I was generally amused by their advertisements, not being a smoker. One of their commercials was a musical number called “Focus On The Positive” where they show the harm done to smokers including rather gruesome and unpleasant forms of death, all set to a jaunty and upbeat number that tries to focus on the positive and the plenty of people who are still here. I was reminded of that particular song and its approach not too long ago when I was sitting in a restaurant and eating my dinner one evening when someone came by pushing a walker and telling everyone around not to smoke because she was dying of emphysema. Given the fact that at least two members of my family gained lasting lung problems as a result of their time smoking, one on each side of my family, I have always viewed smoking as something that would be an immensely foolish move. Yet for whatever reason, the insurance industry is full of smokers, something that I have noted from time to time .
Yet beyond the message of the advertisements itself, I have often been struck by the fact that I am not a particularly optimistic person. This ought not to surprise anyone, for while I am a generally polite and restrained person and genuinely enjoy the time I spend around others, even if I am rather reclusive at home, I am by no means as cheery a person as others may sometimes think. My paternal unit had the life’s motto of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, and he would have done better to prepare for worse than he did, seeing as he had undiagnosed diabetes and a diet that earned him a far too early grave. As someone who has struggled with depression since my youth–with at least one multi-year case of major depression, focusing on the positive does not come naturally. As I commented to another person who is even more pessimistic than I am, every silver cloud has a dark lining. At times, though, it is worthwhile to step back and laugh a bit about the sort of pessimism that I have, as it can be genuinely humorous sometimes.
For example, yesterday night as I was getting ready to leave work when I got a series of e-mails requesting that I have the same access to our various bank accounts as one of my coworkers. I was concerned that this would be a bricks without straw sort of situation given that I had not seen the bank accounts pulled for last week that are the first step in my own commission processing, but given that it was the end of the day I decided to pay it no mind and leave it alone for the time. This morning, when I asked my coworker if the bank accounts were going to be ready sometime today, she realized that she had forgotten to do them, even though she came to work on MLK day when almost everyone was enjoying the longer weekend. At any rate, I soon realized that the two events had not been connected. The lack of the bank accounts being pulled for week was not connected to the request that I have access, which appears to have been done to provide additional backup for the finance department in case someone should be out for a considerable period of time. Being someone who has been multi-trained many times before, it would make sense that I would be the most obvious choice to add another set of skills and abilities to my toolkit.
What I would like to comment on, briefly, though, is why it is that I drew a connection between those two things. It was not a pleasant coincidence that an unasked for set of permissions to view bank accounts was connected to the person who normally does that forgetting to pull the accounts that I use for my work, which made yesterday a less productive day than I would have preferred and today a busier one than I would have wanted. Still, the two things were not that closely related. To be sure, the relationship that our department has with our auditors does have a lot to do with it, and the work for the year-end audit was what kept my coworker busy enough to forget to pull the accounts in the first place, so there was some connection, but it was not the causal connection I had seen. What would have made it easier to not jump to the wrong (negative) conclusions? Perhaps it would have been better to receive a brief message saying that the auditor wanted more backup for the various bank-related tasks in finance and I was being chosen to serve as that backup before receiving the request to add me to the various accounts? A little bit of communication can certainly make some things go easier, but in my world, communication is not often an obvious element to be chosen, and that lack of communication carries with it some unfortunate consequences, like making it harder to focus on the positive.
 See, for example: