Optimism and Realism: Allies or Antagonists?

If you read this blog, you might have noticed that I am an optimist. Someone very kindly called me a ‘beacon of hope’ recently. While many people have expressed appreciation for the work that I am doing through The Fruition Coalition, others have expressed concern that it is detached from reality.

Can optimism and realism be complementary rather than contradictory? I think they can. Without optimism, our efforts to change the real conditions of our lives lack vision. Without realism, our dreams for the future lack grounding. Both are necessary, and both are mutually reinforcing.

L3: Open up to Optimism

From time to time, I lose sight of the perfection inside and all around me. We are constantly bombarded with negative words and images that can sap the strength out of even the most resilient people. Yet, we are surrounded by goodness, beauty, and love – if we only look for it and allow it to soak into our souls.

Negativity is like a cancer that exponentially grows and spreads. Unlike cancer, it is a disease that is extremely contagious; its afterlife is highly contaminated and dangerous.

Fire is a destructive force that extinguishes both natural and built objects – even people. Yet, it is also part of a natural cleansing process that can be beneficial, even essential. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus thought that fire defined the ongoing process of all life. Destruction can lead to renewal; devastation can help us envision hope. Like other refuse, negativity can be composted. Mix it up with love, compassion, and forgiveness and the negativity you absorb will serve as fertilizer for many beautify flowers in the world.

When things are bleak and you feel down, envision the alternative. Take small, manageable steps toward that vision and notice how good you feel as you move in that direction slowly but surely. Recognize your fears, uncertainties, and other constraints and allow good to flow through you and all you do. Stay focused on solutions. Recognize any mistakes that were made and correct them so it doesn’t happen again.

Dream as big as the wide open sky. See the potential for change in every problem. Radiate positive vibes as you go through the day. Open up to the possibilities of the universe – not just for you, but for all people. Encourage others to move through their negativity, a natural response to our seemingly tumultuous world, toward light and love.

Criticism without Cynicism

As a social critic, I often respond or react to current events in nonconstructive ways. While I don’t shout at the TV or contemplate retribution, I do sometimes feel angry, hurt, overwhelmed, and disgusted. These feelings lead me to pick apart ideas, and the people who espouse them, in an effort to deconstruct and discredit. This perpetuates my negative feelings, and the cycle continues.

Other times, I open up my heart and my mind so that I can fully absorb and understand the event. I allow it to penetrate my psyche and infiltrate my intuition. Then I let it go, allowing it to float away and disintegrate. I create space for new ideas to emerge. I imagine what could be possible. Then I get off my meditation cushion sitting ass and do whatever I can to make my beautiful vision a reality.

We can critique our world in constructive, rather than cynical, ways. Emergent history can shift our conscience from pessimism to possibility. We can hope rather than hate, and love instead of languish.