Several years ago I was asked a rather interesting question.
It was innocent in general, but the question alone got me thinking a lot about optimism and positive thinking.
For the longest of times I’ve had a positive demeanour and I strive to be positive a lot of the time. But it’s this fact that got someone to ask me a simple question:
“Is the news in Canada always positive? I’m asking because you are always are so happy and up lifting.”
This question alone has made me realize something about optimism.
Although there is plenty of research to suggest positivity and optimism to be a wonderful thing, there is such a thing as toxic optimism too.
Yes, too much optimism can actually harm you.
I’ve defended optimism in the past because of the overall impact it has made in my life.
Not to mention my general approach to optimism has always been maintaining a balance between that and realism.
But how I realized that path of thinking, and why I talk about it now, is because of that question.
Looking Behind Optimism
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” ― Dr. Seuss
Like I said above, there is a lot of reasons optimism is good. But it’s dangerous for one to live a life of absolute positivity.
Primarily because of what optimism is.
Optimism is choosing to see the positive aspects regardless of the scenario.
Although I take a more realistic approach, others could believe in optimism to the point of ignorance.
This was what was being implied by that question above.
Indeed positivity can be beneficial, but in excess will actually cause more bad than good. Again optimism is putting you in an expectation that you’ll ONLY receive good things.
Furthermore, people who are in a state of toxic optimism are in a state of constant happiness. Sure that sounds good on paper but here are 4 very realistic scenarios to put into perspective:
- You can’t connect with people. You talk about rainbows, gratitude, positivity and unicorns. They talk about what’s happening in the world.
- They break deadlines because they’re “confident” they’ll do a task in less time.
- They don’t see anything broken or wrong with people. They may not even see mistakes or failures.
- You can develop unrealistic expectations that only good things will happen to you. You know this because you believe in the law of attraction and practice gratitude constantly.
What Can Be Done
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Like I said, I’m a firm believer in optimism, so I’m not trying to tear it all down.
I’m also not saying to give up optimism and be pessimistic towards life.
In the end, the only real solution to combat toxic optimism is to bring yourself down to reality.
This can be difficult for a variety of reasons, namely that reality can be a tough pill to swallow.
Not everything will go your way some times. You’ll make mistakes and fail from time to time. That shit will happen. But it’s up to you to get back up.
Everyone has their own flaws in life. We’re not perfect, flawless beings. We’ll screw up, make ourselves look bad. But we’ll overcome it eventually.
Everything is going to take time. It’s unreasonable to hit record high scores on your very first attempt at something new.
Those are but a few of many realistic and optimistic view points that I have. It’s why I see the law of attraction the way I see it.
But as optimists, I believe some level of realism is needed.
Much like with leveraging the law of attraction, you need to put work and effort. To think that you can make it by thinking really hard is unrealistic.
The sheer amount of optimism is warming and great, but it shouldn’t be clouding our minds or giving us false hope.
Continue to dream, and hope, but realize that you need action and a plan in order to get there.
Realize that it’ll take time and you won’t get there instantly. But that’s alright, because you’ll get a fantastic journey out of it.
This Is Part Of The Process
Realistic thinking isn’t pessimism. It’s looking around at your reality. — Eric S Burdon
Optimism, when used properly, will only help in bolstering yourself and using those tools to your advantage.
When you have this balance, you will realize that you and everyone else can achieve great things. It only takes time.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon
This post is part of an 3 month writing challenge that I’m committing myself to. Every day for 3 months, I’ll be writing articles with specific criteria in mind. You can learn all about my reasoning as well as what that criteria is right here. This is 8 of 91 of this series.
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