Why I Choose to Be Realistically Optimistic
Since my teenage years, I've always been particular about being inspired and motivated. I've always been inclined to reading books, watching movies, listening to songs that push me towards doing something great.
Doing these things made me believe in myself and become very optimistic about my future. I always expected the very best and always put in my best in the situations I found myself.
This mental disposition really helped me pull through a lot of rough times in my life. In general I adopted a more optimistic view about my life and even when things appeared to be going south, this view kept me focused, happy and motivated against all odds.
At a point I was getting quite addicted to the resources and once thought of becoming a motivational speaker. But what I quickly found out was that no one was willing to listen to a motivational speaker who hadn't accomplished something hooge (that's a funny way to say HUGE 😂) with his life.. so that thought was quickly replaced by other lofty dreams.
I think my inclination towards motivation and inspiration then consequently becoming an optimistic individual can be attributed to losing my dad at age 11. He was the first real fraternal and brotherly relationship I had. I saw him as a model to look up to and making him happy was what inspired me to do my very best as young as I was.
Losing him hit me really hard.. all of sudden, there was no one else to look up to, I was the first child. It seemed like it was just me prematurely exposed to the world without my guide and first true brother no longer at my side.
It was tough.. just like being signed into the army and straight into war with no guidance, no command, no training. I had to quickly find something to look onto for guidance.
It was tough to make and keep friends at that time. I was broken. It was quite hard to fill the void. My view at that point was quite pessimistic cos I often wondered what was the point of life?
But then, I began to search for answers in books, music, videos.. and started feeling a kind of connection when I read, watched or listened some kind of artists who made me believe that regardless of what situation I found myself, I could still achieve what I want to achieve.
Dad himself gave me a book "An enemy called average", few years before he passed away. I never saw the need to read that book until he passed away. But when I first read it, it sparked up the flame that was dying in me.
From here, I read more books, listened to inspiring songs (Rap, Blues, Hip-hop, Country Religious etc) which had lyrics that made me feel better and more optimistic.
From my newfound sources of inspiration, I was able to get my shit together and I started seeing progress in areas of my life again. I wanted more, so I delved deeper into study, watching and listening to resources.
This led me into spirituality, cos I often wondered why people had to die, where we come from and all that mysterious stuff. And through study about religion and spirituality, I found reason to strengthen my believe in God and through further study I developed a certain kind of faith that wouldn't make sense to certain people. Lol.
But this faith made me even more optimistic and I found reasons to stay happy and trust God in every situation.
At this point, I began to see a lot of patterns in my life. Everything made sense with this faith backed optimism and I didn't see any reason not to feel happy.
So far so good, I've been running with this mental disposition, it's been over 10 years and counting, and I strongly believe that this state of mind has done me much more good than before I had adopted it.
So What is optimism by the way? And why did I share all that?
A quick Google search defines it as, "hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something."
And this is the definition I agree with. The will to live and act on inspiration is easily exercised when you are hopeful and confident about the future and the success of whatever you have done or you are about to do.
Without optimism, there would really be no push or urge to do anything. The opposite of optimism is pessimism and the pessimist believes that only the worst will will happen and can only see the worst coming out of everything.
As humans, you and I know that if you always believe that the worst will happen if you do anything, you wouldn't even want to do it. Pessimists are those often prone to depression and anxiety because their mental disposition is keyed to seeing the negative. It's interesting to look at this article and see how pessimism is linked to depression and even suicide.
Why would you want to take up that mental disposition?
Some other people argue that the position to be a realist is better. And in definition, realists accept a situation as it is and are prepared to deal with it accordingly.
However, I don't think realism is a position to be compared with optimism. It is not the opposite of optimism or should it be included in a category where you can choose it as an option from the other two.
I agree with realism to an extent, but I prefer the position of being realistically optimistic.
What do I even mean by that? A realist accepts a situation as it really is.. but in that acceptance, being realistically optimistic would mean still being hopeful in a best outcome even from the present situation.
For some people accepting a situation as it really is could mean pessimism and that's the danger I see in trying to say one is just a realist rather than an optimist. Being realistic, could mean accepting that your situation could never change anymore because to you, you have "accepted reality".
But when you think about it really, there is really no reality fixed as everything changes! there can only be two possible realities depending on what you want to accept as the reality. Either that the situation will lead to a good outcome or the situation will never be better!
So realism is tricky. A lot of people who claim to be realists are actually pessimistic without even knowing it. To them they can see reality and the world better than those who are optimists.
So being realistically optimistic (which includes not deceiving yourself) is actually a safer and better position as the position of one who claims to be a realist is not usually clear until you know what they understand as accepting reality!
As with everything good, there is a caveat with being optimistic here. Some people overestimate their abilities. And this is where I think realism has to merge with optimism.
While you are believing and expecting the best for yourself, you should also be wary of deluding yourself too. There's a thin line there, so one has to be careful.
You can't expect to be the richest man in the world in 1hr (maybe you can ;) ).. haha. But at least you can expect that you will get out of debt.
It's quite hard to explain this, but I'm counting on you to get the point. In believing and hoping for the best, one must be wary of not deluding oneself with very unrealistic expectations without at least to an extent having some plan in motion towards then.
It is the plans you have in motion towards the actualization of your optimistic believes that help you gauge how realistic your optimism is. I'm not saying it's your plans that will make it work, your optimistic beliefs can come to pass in surprising ways.. but having your own plan in motion helps you keep that expectation at a realistic level!
Still hard to explain.. but I believe you will get my point.
As it stands for me, I think all true levels of success from outstanding individuals in the world have come from them having faith/optimism/hope and believe in what they do despite how many times they've failed, their mental disposition kept them happy and kept them going.
Realistic Optimism teaches you to keep your eye focused on the prize which has to be positive. Focusing on positives will keep you happy and help you see more positives.
But focusing on negatives by choosing to be pessimistic at all times, will paralyze you and keep you trapped in cycles of negativity.
I'll close with my WhatsApp status for today that goes:
"Expectations makes one happy. If your expectations are not met, the solution is NOT to stop expecting anything at all.. the solution is to keep expecting and believing..
There's a happiness that comes from this state of mind. Saying you will expect nothing completely kills of that portion of happiness that comes from expectation/hope/believe.
No matter how many disappointments you may get, you're much happier if you keep having good expectations regardless! Optimists are happiest for this reason."
Let me know your thoughts on this. I'm not always correct.. although I hope to be in future.. lol. So share your thoughts with me on this article.
Your fellow winner,
Ike Nigel. O