Should we be optimistic or pessimistic about the state of our country and the planet? Are things getting worse or better?
After all, some say the world is tumbling in a downward spiral headed for implosion. Others, however, say the future is brighter than ever. Who’s right and who’s wrong?
Because we see the world through our own filter, is there even a definitive answer?
If we can agree on anything at all, it’s that we’re living in a rather pessimistic world today. Just turn on the TV or the radio or go online. We’re surrounded by those who continually point out and expect the worst.
The Case for Optimism
With such an emphasis on negativity, it’s worth considering what Philosopher William James pointed out, “Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.”
Listed below are five reasons to be optimistic in a pessimistic world. As you read each, consider if the different viewpoints increase or decrease one’s power.
- Optimists look for opportunities while pessimists focus on problems.
- Optimists believe they create their own reality. Pessimists say they are simply being realists.
- Optimists look for the light and seek to bring light to a dreary situation. Pessimists live in a dark world.
- Optimists seek the good in others. Pessimists are suspicious of others.
- Optimists live with hope while pessimists live in a state of despair.
Optimism opens a door while pessimism slams it shut.
Dealing with the Negativity
The messages broadcast on TV and social media offer plenty of reasons to be pessimistic. Bad news, criticism, and hate troll these mediums. It’s reached such an overwhelming level we can’t escape it. Yet, you and I can significantly reduce our exposure to it.
We can and should remain informed about current events and their impact on humanity. But it doesn’t mean we have to constantly feed on the negativity. If we do, we’ll likely miss all the good things happening right in front of us. And we’ll miss opportunities to find common ground. It’s far better to limit the amount of time we spend overemphasizing adverse situations.
When we allow pessimism to sway our behavior, we remove the power gleaned from an optimistic outlook. And therefore, reduce the possibility for growth and positive change. This is the danger of being a pessimist, and perhaps that’s the greatest reason to be optimistic in a pessimistic world.
What could you do today to be more optimistic?