Fighting to be an optimist again
How I turned my default from pessimism to optimism.
Something I fought to re-learn is optimism; To see good in a world that gives you plenty of reasons to think otherwise.
It’s not that I’m naturally a pessimist, I’m really not. It’s just that I formed a bad habit of digging too deep into intentions.
I’m hypercritical of my surroundings — always trying to understand the who, what, when, where, and most importantly, why.
And oftentimes questioning everything is my greatest superpower- it’s even helped me make some life-changing decisions.
Except what I didn’t realize was that it was also turning me into a pessimist.
There’s certainly a lot of bad in the world to focus on — the war in Ukraine, increasing wealth inequality, and the literal destruction of our environment.
And it sucks. It oftentimes feels like the decisions we make (including myself) are so selfish.
As if all of our actions are driven by not-so-good underlying intentions: the people we surround ourselves with, the professions we pursue, and the lifestyles we live.
Is there anything such as good intentions if you dig deep enough?
What started as a curiosity escalated into a rabbit hole that I dug myself too deep into.
This hypercritical lens became how I perceive the world around me.
I became hypervigilant at picking out the bad in the good.
And if you search for bad, you’ll find it.
In the news, my community, and even my own intentions. Digging for it only led to more confirmation bias.
Not only did it affect how I thought, but also how I acted.
I dropped off social media (not really a bad thing lol) for 6 months:
Doesn’t posting on social media feel selfish?
Why are all of these people all of a sudden finally responding to me after I went viral on Twitter?
I also became more closed off to some new friendships:
Do they really care, or are they just interested in how people have thought of me recently?
I was so principled in seeking out true intentions that I became a pessimist.
I started closing doors and kept to myself. I felt like the only person’s intentions I could really trust were my own.
After a while, I realized that it was getting me nowhere. Being a pessimist was a choice and did no good for me or anyone else.
In fact, I was being complacent and no better than the selfish pre-conditioned mindset that I so much resented.
If I really wanted to make an impact, I needed to change the way I saw the world.
My biggest perspective shift has been choosing optimism instead.
You can’t change the fact that there are some sad truths to life. You can, however, change how you process and react to them.
We can focus all day on the bad if we want, but there’s a lot of good out there too: people, innovation, movements.
Your perception of the world truly does become your reality.
And it’s helped me better understand the intentions of others.
I really don’t think anyone inherently is evil or has ‘bad’ intentions. We’re just conditioned over time to act selfishly because that’s all we see in this world.
It’s dissonance from our child-like minds that genuinely want to do good for ourselves and others.
Except that’s not how we’re built. We’re community-driven beings and genuinely want to do good for others.
If I want to make a difference, a good start is to lead by example and choose optimism- to show myself and others that we truly can see good at the end of the tunnel.
It’s a much more fulfilling way to live life and drive ambitions.
Once again I’ve been able to take more risks, explore more curiosities, and most importantly learn how I can have an impact on others- one motivational Substack post at a time. Just kidding lol.