Why It’s Okay To Be Optimistic

2012 March 20

Sometimes, I give pep talks. Not the standard “He was a total bastard. You can do so much better!” ones. I’m terrible at those. No, I mean the “You are smart and capable and this situation can be successfully handled in the following eight ways” kind of pep talks. I gave one of those the other night. Via Skype. With a drink in my hand. Yeah, occasionally things get a little AbFab around here.

This is the gist of it:

Pessimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy. No one ever looks at a situation, decides it’s going to hell in a hand basket and then makes up their mind to move mountains to make sure that doesn’t happen. No, people decide things won’t work out and then they check out. Why throw good money after bad? Why bet on a losing horse? Why look like even more of a sucker? Why risk getting hurt or humiliated, no matter how remote that possibility?

But if some part of you doesn’t hope and believe that things will work out, you have no impetus to do your damnedest to make sure that they do. Optimism is that motivator. You see an opportunity, you imagine what could come from it and that gives you a kick in the pants to make an effort to achieve what you’re envisioning. Optimism isn’t about naively waiting and hoping for the universe to make good on what you feel it owes you or believing that luck will save the day. It’s about choosing to see the good side and all its potential, it’s about dreaming up a scenario in which you get exactly what you want and letting this vision motivate you to go after that very thing with gusto. Optimism begets action. And action gets you closer to what you want. Every. Single. Time.

There is always the chance of disappointment. I’m the first to admit that disappointment hits me harder than most. I take promises to heart. I take declarations at face value. And I get very hurt when other people don’t live up to their end of the bargain or when I trust in the fairness of life and get burned for my belief. But I’m also stubborn enough not to let disappointment (or the mere possibility of it) rob me of my hope in the best case scenario, the hope that drives me to do everything with my power to bring that scenario to fruition – last time, this time, next time, every time. As Eisenhower is often quoted as saying, “Pessimism never won any battle.” And we all do a lot of fighting in this life.

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