Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Be Optimistic?

optimism |ˈäptəˌmizəm|
1 hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something : the talks had been amicable, and there were grounds for optimism.
2 Philosophy the doctrine, esp. as set forth by Leibniz, that this world is the best of all possible worlds.*
• the belief that good must ultimately prevail over evil in the universe.
© 2009 New Oxford American Dictionary

*If this is the best of possible worlds... then does that mean it won't get any better? Almost sounds like pessimism - the opposite. Or is it?

à la Wikipedia:
...A number of scholars have suggested that, although optimism and pessimism might seem like opposites, in psychological terms they do not function in this way. Having more of one does not mean you have less of the other. The factors that reduce one do not necessarily increase the other. On many occasions in life we need both in equal supply. Antonio Gramsci famously called for "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will": the one the spur to action, the other the resilience to believe that such action will result in meaningful change even in the face of adversity.

Hope can become a force for social change when it combines optimism and pessimism in healthy proportions.*

*So the Wikipedia entry writer says, so it is. Right?
(I like how he or she stuck her own philosophies about hope in there. I dig it though.)
Hope as a force for social change... hmm.

Consider Radiohead:

Apart from this being a good damn song (and I'm nobody's Radiohead fan) it's an interesting comment on optimism. If you try the best you can...meanwhile, just where are those dinosaurs lately? And how would they feel about Leibniz's ideas about this being the "best possible world?" Hmm...


So, as I study for the bar exam, I'm also studying myself, and just how my thoughts shape my world. Your focus shapes your reality... but why? And how? I've been coming up with lots of answers... which have lead to more questions, but the one thing that seems to be key to like, everything, is the understanding that my (our) subconscious can make you or break you. One day, I dug around my subconscious in regard to one particular question and, amazingly, the digging around unearthed this song as the answer:

So yes, be optimistic. Never say die.

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