The cynics believe that optimism is merely tricking yourself into feeling happy.
But what’s so wrong with that? When did we decide that using the placebo effect on ourselves was a bad thing?
Just as honesty isn’t always the best policy with others, it’s not always the best policy with ourselves.
The story we’re telling about our situation might be an illusion, but it’s a helpful illusion, and it’s a more pleasant way to live, so we shouldn’t feel guilty or wrong about doing what we have to do to survive.
Besides, there’s no upside to not believing. May as well tilt the odds in our favor and adopt an attitude of optimism about the progress of our lives.
Because when we’re cynical, we risk nothing.
Henson, the legendary puppeteer and entrepreneur, famously remarked that if you drive people crazy with your relentless optimism, but it all works out for you, then it’s not your problem.
Sounds like my experience living in a big city. Locals are confused about my ability to consciously to keep optimism as my chosen attitude and the lens through which I view the world. Because they assume it means there are no bad days, no downbeat moods and no difficult feelings.
Untrue. All of those emotional experiences are part of my life by nature of being a human being, it’s just that I have faith that those things aren’t permanent, pervasive and personal.
Weiss, one of my top business philosophers, depicts it beautifully:
The question about optimism is, what’s the alternative? We live on a chunk of space rock traveling eighty thousand miles per hour around an exploding star. We influence and control none of that, and scientific and religious argument notwithstanding, we don’t actually understand very much of it.
Hence, it’s rewarding to be optimistic each day, canine like in our eagerness to exploit the new morning, because it’s the only sane way to live.
What things do you turn to each day to muster a sense of optimism? Personally, my strategy is to notice quiet signs and chance opportunities that the universe is on my side and trying to bless me. To constantly look deeper to find the gift in my daily experiences.
Doing so gives me a generative posture based on possibility, not scarcity.
Call it confirmation bias, call it seeing what you want to see, but if tricking yourself into happiness is wrong, they I don’t want to be right.
Remember, if you tell yourself a story enough times, you will make it true. And that story it’s a net positive on your life, but isn’t negatively affecting anyone else, then keep moving that narrative forward.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you abandoning your own happiness because you’re afraid of telling the right lie to yourself?