I recently read two very different books that really had an impact on me and made me realize the importance of choosing optimism in our lives. One was a fictional novel that focused on the problem of global overpopulation. It was very pessimistic, very dark and very depressing. There was nothing remotely optimistic in it and it left me feeling drained. Fortunately, I had previously read a very different book, a non-fictional work that acknowledged the problems the world faces today, but concentrated completely on solutions. When I had first read that second book I remember how happy I was after reading it, and how much it restored my faith in the world and the people in it and made me want to look for ways that I could help.
It’s a stark contrast. Pessimism leads to depression, resignation and a refusal to even try to do anything to fix our problems. But choosing optimism re-energizes, inspires and leads to new ways of thinking and doing and focuses us all on what we can do to improve our situations. And we all have the responsibility of choosing which path we’re going to choose: the darkness or the light. We can either choose to give up hope and let things spiral downward, or we can choose to believe in possibility and to work towards the bright vision that we want for this world.
Choosing optimism is a choice for the future
It’s easier to just accept the view that nothing can be done, because doing something would require effort and a fundamental change in how we think. It’s easier to just give in to the pessimism and the doom and gloom that pervades our society. It’s easier to just tear down the ones who say that change is possible and to shout down all the reasons they have for why it can happen.
All throughout history, it’s been trendier to wallow in pessimism. It’s been considered “intellectual” to lament the state of the world and to focus on the darker aspects of human nature, laughing off the optimists as childish and ignorant. But focusing on the darkness has only magnified that darkness and brought us more negativity. So perhaps it’s time to focus on the light instead. Perhaps it’s time to finally start listening to the optimists and their ideas for change.
Darkness or light. Despair or hope. Destruction or renewal. It is a choice, and one that each and every one of us must make. Choose wisely, because the future of humanity is in our hands and in our hearts.
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photo credit: NASA public domain images