Monday, January 30, 2012

Too XYZ Classic: Optimizing Optimism

In one of my first ever posts on this blog, published on February 22, 2010, I spoke of optimism.

I have had a love-hate relationship with the concept of optimism for all of my life. Perhaps it is better described as a like-hate. I have been through resentment of optimists, confusion of them. I have been briefly intrigued by them, and for an even briefer period of time, tried to become one. Currently, I have an uneasy alliance with the concept and its disciples. I accept it in just about the same proportions that I accept the fact I am no and cannot be an optimist myself. Not when defined by a life long, ubiquitous sense of seeing the silver lining.

I came to that conclusion not long before starting this blog. In fact, knowing I was not an optimist is one of the components that led me to conclude I was Too XYZ for most people.

The good news is, psychiatry is starting to catch up to the idea that I have espoused for so long; Unchecked, universal optimism is not much healthier than is incessant pessimism. Indeed, a recent edition of Psychology Today contains an article addressing this very subject. An article that encourages the tempering of optimistic expectations. It was quite a satisfying read for someone like myself. (Paul, Annie Murphy. "The Uses and Abuses of Optimism (And Pessimism)" Psychology Today Dec. 2011: 56-62)

Since writing this post, as I said, I have a more diplomatic approach to optimism. One that has it seeds in the classic post I am directing you to now. Optimism focused upon a specific project or moment in time, and not applied as a life philosophy has sometimes kept me from going crazy. Perhaps it will help you as well.

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