You know what I’ve learnt from most millennials? (That’s anyone born after 1988). Optimism, and anything to do with positive thinking, is for suckers. Suckers with no life, no game, and absolutely no swag! (Am I allowed to use ‘swag’ in 2015?) It is waaayyy more cooler to be a skeptic. A cynic. A pessimist, who sees a bright shiny day and just wants to spit right in its face.
If you have a younger cousin, someone in their late teens or early twenties, follow any of their social media pages -Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr – for ONE day, and you will see what I mean. They are either making fun of someone, or talking about how much life sucks, rebelling against the entire world… you know, young people stuff.
I know it sounds like I’m judging them, but quite the contrary, McLarry!
I was 18 once. Somehow, I managed to turn my young life, where I wanted and needed for absolutely nothing, into a nightmare in my head. I was living the kind of life that people would break both their arms for, yet I took it all for granted, because I didn’t get all the flashy things I wanted, and nobody worshiped the ground I walked on, oh, and the cool kids in school were really, really cool. And gorgeous! And not as socially awkward as I was. So I decided to stick to my “everyone hates me, life sucks, and I hate everyone” lane. It seemed cooler at the time.
Flash forward: It took years of banging-head-against-all-kinds-of-walls experiences to learn that being a cynic was actually the most dangerous thing I could ever allow myself to be. It was fine when I was 18… 19… even 23… but as I got older, being the perennial skeptic was eating at my self-esteem in ways that began to eat away at me.
Think about it: as you get older, when you leave college, get started on your career, move out of your parents’ house, then life gets interesting. Along with the new opportunities and excitement of it all, you have some brand new responsibilities that come with headaches, obstacles, disappointments and a series of unfortunate events. Our answer to these circumstances has become being so skeptical about life,that we hardly give ourselves a chance to try anything that will stretch us and help us evolve. We seem to prefer to be the spectators sitting in the sidelines, watching those who are courageous enough to get on the arena to play the game of life, because we don’t want to. But deep down, we are simply too scared to.
Being a skeptic in the 21st century is like shooting yourself in the foot. We are in a time when there are more opportunities than ever before in human history, but most of us don’t want to take advantage of many of these opportunities, because of what could go wrong, being realistic, blah, blah, blah. We have already thought about the possibility of something breaking down even before it’s happened, and while there is nothing wrong with looking at worst case scenarios, we shouldn’t allow the cons of a brilliant idea to make it come to a screeching, screaming halt! Because constant, persistent pessimism can keep you in one mental, emotional and physical space for decades and decades.
You can no longer afford to look at life the same way you did when you always have. Persistent pessimism will make you poor, unhappy, resentful and bitter.
In my humble opinion, choosing to be optimistic about your life is not corny at all. It can be a lifesaver, if you choose to look at it in its proper perspective.
I’m not talking about the “always look at the bright side of life” blissful ignorance type of stuff. I am talking about the way you decide to view your adversities as well as your successes.
Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania has a beautiful definition of optimism that is most certainly NOT corny. He defines optimism not as the typical “the glass is always full” perspective, but rather, on the way one chooses to think about their setbacks, as well as their victories.
For example: the optimist and the pessimist see things from completely different perspectives whenever things go wrong or when encountering a setback:
And what about the victories, the good things that happen in life? Yep, you guessed it! The optimist and the pessimist have totally opposing views on this too:
I REST MY CASE!
So here’s an exercise for you to chew on:
This week, take the time to look at your setbacks and victories. Look at the things in your life right now that are frustrating you, hurting you and worrying you and list 3 ways that you can look at them from an empowered state of mind. So if you happen to be heavily in debt, or in a job you do not like, or even want to get started on a project of your dreams, then how can you look at those situations from a more assertive place?
1. Break things down into very specific problem areas.
2. Create a plan of actionable, daily, weekly steps to pull yourself out of that situation.
3. EXECUTE AND REMAIN OPTIMISTIC!
Make a promise to yourself that you are going to do this in 2015. Break things down into 4 quarters (3 months each), and monitor your progress. If you need any help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Yes, I am the only one who reads my mails. Let me know what your plan is. No more complaining, no more procrastinating. It’s about going at this one thing that you have either always wanted to do, or has been keeping you stuck and unhappy, with all the energy that you can muster. While being optimistic!
Oh, and teach your kids that there is nothing wrong with being a positive human being, and being openly proud of it!
Look forward to hearing from you!