Another question: “Isn’t pessimism logically superior to optimism? With pessimism, you are either right or pleasantly surprised. With optimism you either get what you expect or are disappointed.”
I have been, and still am to some degree, ambivalent about the concept of hope. I have always believed that I should strive to be well aware of negative possibilities – not necessarily due to pessimism – but to be sufficiently forewarned and prepared if things did not go well. I did not particularly trust myself to react well or appropriately in the face of serious disappointment or unpleasant occurrences without having first worked through several potential scenarios.
I still do this. I don’t know if I will ever be able to stop, but I rather hope so. As John Connor in the Terminator films says: “The future is not set”. We can try to prepare ourselves for the unknown all we like based on past experience and logical projections, but there is no way to know what the future truly holds. We are pleased when our predictions appear to come true, since that gives us a sense of control and security. Yes, it does feel good to be right. But I think there is actually something to the rather airy-fairy notion that we get what we expect. I don’t think this is quite the same as the New-Age concept of ‘The Law of Attraction’, as it is commonly misinterpreted (focus your thoughts on wealth and the universe will shower you with gold!), I think it has more to do with attitude and perception.
“Hope for the best” – what does this mean? What is ‘best’? It may be best for a minute, a day, a month – and then turn out to have horrid drawbacks or repercussions. Or it may turn you away from a path that would have had better, longer-lasting results. Or it may seem to be everything you ever dreamt of in your wildest fantasies.
That is where perception comes in.
If you choose to believe that you might have been happier with some other outcome, you most certainly will be miserable. If you see it as the answer to your prayers, you will be happy, at least for a time. Is either one an accurate assessment of the situation? It depends entirely on how you choose to view it.
That is where attitude is important. All we can really do is make the best choice for the moment and leave it at that. We will always rely on past experience and future projections in order to make those choices – I don’t think we can help it – but I don’t see how it helps to be either optimistic or pessimistic. All we can do is live as close to our ideals and values as we can, and try to see the best in whatever comes from that.
Because whatever does come, it is the best we are going to get. It is up to us to take our happiness from it without wasting time and energy trying to make it something it is not – either a blessing or a curse. With the passage of time, it could prove to be both.
So my constant advice to myself is to try extremely hard to see the truth of what *is*, and find the joy and delight in it. Generally, there will always be something – a truth or a realization that opens up possible avenues of interest and exploration. The potential for a new relationship or connection. Even a sorrow that brings up unresolved echoes of the past that may be eased by such reflection.
No rosy-colored glasses obscuring the light, no gloomy Eeyore clouds blocking it out, just acceptance of both sun and shadow and an ever-present curiosity concerning potentials and possibilities.