Much of our thinking can be broken into optimism and pessimism. Being optimistic allows us to go forward, even if blindly into the future. Pessimism allows us to give up before we start. I recently saw a feature on Michael J. Fox (no idea the source) that talked about the benefits of optimism over pessimism, and how we seem to be almost hard-wired towards one part of the spectrum than another.
I recommend optimistic pragmatism, by which I mean be optimistic but be realistic at the same time. Thinking negatively about an outcome isn’t going to help us overcome it – it’s almost as if we are giving up before we even get started.
And blind optimism feels good, but it’s not real. Optimism without anything backing it up is a hopeful lie that you are telling yourself.
We’re good at self lies, telling ourselves that something doesn’t matter when it does, or vice-versa. The trick is to be realistic–leaning towards hope and success, rather than being realistically pessimistic and leaning towards failure.
Yes, I do believe you can change your life by changing your thoughts. If you want a higher self-esteem, I do believe you can think yourself into it. However… there are limits. I can’t wish myself to be 27 again (assuming I wanted to), any more than I could wish myself to be 47.
One of my complaints with the whole, “just look on the bright side of life” thing, is that there is a lot of negativity out there. I really don’t think one should ignore negativity out right. Don’t lie to yourself, either way!
I think that we should really choose to see negativity, and then choose to think the best thoughts we can instead. We should be realistic. Being realistic means to not accept thoughts that things are destined to be a certain way. It means seeing what is truly there, and then choosing your thoughts to influence the best possible outcome.
I am not a fan of negativity or pessimism because of the self-defeatist nature of it. Why assume the worst? Is it going to help you to assume the worst, or is it going to help you to hope for the best?
And why be optimistic or pessimistic at all, instead of just pragmatic or realistic?
Because if one thinks in a value neutral way, I’m not convinced that there is any impetus to improve oneself. If one thinks entirely about the now, with no thought of the future, you are not being an instrument to your own good. Although the future will come anyway, would you rather sit passively inside yourself armed with facts? Or would you rather leap towards it, armed with intelligent, well thought out, optimism?
Wishing you all an optimistic reality!