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I was once the friend who liked pointing out the flaws and the many reasons
why a plan won’t work; I lived on the ‘life is not fair- no one told you it would
be’ quotes. In short, I was a glass half empty person, and I used to think I
was pretty darn good at it.
Then I met people who were better-people who actually lived and strived to
bring the HAPPINESS meters of others down. What ensued was
unthinkable. Suddenly I was at the receiving end of it all, and I realized I
actually wasn’t the pessimism enthusiast I thought I was. Being at the other
end of ‘why it won’t work’, ‘why you should never dream too big’, and ‘why
being optimistic is like being unrealistic’ surely didn’t feel that great.
So I decided to try the alternative and explore it a little. What is optimism?
And why do so many people have a problem with it?
A common misconception is that being optimistic ‘means believing that the
negative doesn’t exist’. It doesn’t. Being optimistic means DISTANCING
yourself from that negativity.
Being optimistic does not mean I’m always the most cheerful person
around- it means that I get sad, maybe I cry a little while watching
motivational videos on YouTube, but after a while of doing that, I get tired of
being sad, and decide not to let it take over my life.
From a lot of personal experiences, from important exams to dealing with
the failures of some of those exams, I began to realize that by thinking
negative thoughts, I fortified myself as my worst enemy. The thoughts grew
inside me like a cancer cell, and eventually I let the problem get bigger than
me. NEVER let the problem get bigger than you.
I’m an optimist. That doesn’t mean I believe everything will work out
perfectly. It just means I believe it is LIKELY that everything might work
out- or to say the least- I believe everything might just be fine. It means
that I know perfectly well that there are two scenarios: things might work
out or things might not work out, but I CHOOSE to believe the former.
My point is, of course things will go wrong. Of course you might not get to
do everything according to plan. Of course something unexpected might
happen. Optimism isn’t ignoring the problems of life- it means the ability to
face the problem believing you can overcome them. What harm could a
little BELIEVING do?
Whether you are a teacher in a classroom filled with bored students, or a
speaker in a room filled with people-who do you think has a better chance
of leaving the room with the students or listeners feeling good about what
they just heard- the optimist or the pessimist?
But the sad truth is that life is hectic. With most people working unthinkably
long hours, jostling to climb the career ladder, it is very easy to let failures
get the better of you. In short, life is hard. But being negative about it? That
just makes it HARDER.
If I were given the option to face an exam, or an interview, or the launch of
a project very close to my heart, and I was told that whether or not I ace
them depends entirely on my attitude towards it (just for argument’s sake),
I would choose to be optimistic over being pessimistic or realistic. Would I
succeed? You tell me.