This last week I received a timely reminder to be optimistic, in the form of this TED talk.
As Peter mentions in the talk, pessimism has been a part of human nature since humans walked the earth in their earliest stages. It helped them be aware of the possible dangers in their world so they could avoid them and survive.
But their gift is our curse.
We live in a different world than prehistoric man. Many of the threats our ancestors faced are no longer a concern to us. Without the threat of being eaten alive, crushed by rocks, freezing to death or starving, we have every reason to look forward to a happy, long, and fulfilling life.
From what I have seen, pessimism does nothing but retard our personal progress and negatively impact our health and relationships. Do you know that friend of yours that everybody likes? The one with like 800 friends on Facebook? Do you ever wonder why everybody likes that person? It’s because they’re always happy! You can choose to be that person. You’re much happier when you’re happier, and so is everybody around you.
It’s easy to get absorbed in the little problems you face from day to day. It definitely happens to me. There’s always a responsibility that ends up getting neglected or a complex problem that you can’t quite solve. But when I’m walking home from work I often think to myself, “you know, my life is really quite perfect. I’ve survived high school, gone to college, worked my butt off, hiked to the top of timp, ran a marathon, done a backflip, played a riff on an electric guitar, served as a missionary, shot my grandpa’s rifle, shaved my head, gone rappelling, and lit a fire with a magnifying glass. I’m happily married, I have good friends, I’m not diseased, I still have all my limbs, and I’m true to my faith.
Life isn’t bad. It’s awesome. And if you don’t think so, it’s about time you did.