Two tips on how to fight pessimism.
We received an email from one of our readers and it’s a theme we’ve seen before expressed in different ways. The feeling of being overwhelmed by the world, the feeling of helplessness and interpreting the world from a position of pessimism. This is clearly a self-sabotaging approach to life and if not addressed can lead to apathy – possible one of the most dangerous states of mind for an otherwise mentally well person.
We thought this topic may be interesting to more people so here’s our approach to breaking free form pessimism and finding back to an empowered state of mind.
I am signing up for this great and inspiring website/blog for help. I was born a pessimist and I always see things in black and white. NO gray or color in my life and I always can see the negative outlook in life before I see anything positive and I simply just want help.
Thank you so much,
Cia’s message is very short and doesn’t reveal any thoughts on why she tends to do this so trying to answer this is a bit of a shot in the dark but here we go.
My take on life is expressed so eloquently in The Dhammapada in translation by Byrom: “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” There are many modern rewrites of this line, for example: “We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.”
My point is that life is neither black, white nor colourful. Life is life. You chose to give it attributes. The good thing is that you can learn to chose differently than you do now.
And I do not believe people are born pessimist or optimists. I believe it’s a state of mind we’re conditioned to adopt by the environment we grow up in and the people we’re surrounded by through life. We are overwhelmed by different “models of reality” or “interpretations of how the world works” from our first day in life until we move on from this world. Even if it can be very hard, each and every one of us has the freedom to chose which models of reality that we want to adopt, which ones we want to adapt and which ones we want to discard.
Examples of a model of reality are: “You need to get a university degree to get a high-paid job” another is “You need to own your house (therefore you must take a mortgage).” “You need to serve God.” “To be rich and famous is to be happy.”
If you live in the western world I would think these four examples are models of reality that are widely accepted and endorsed daily in media and conversations everywhere.
None of them are true. They are only models of reality we are conditioned to believe in. Remember: “With our thoughts we make the world.”
If you measure yourself against a model of reality that you have not actively chosen it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, out of sync with people around you and maybe feel insufficient.
1. Choose your models of reality!
You may not be in a situation now where you can break free from the ones that doesn’t serve you but just recognising which models of reality that serve you and which ones hold you back I believe does make you feel empowered. And a time will come when you can discard the ones that holds you back.
2. Practice gratitude daily!
I thought is was a silly idea and it took me years before I tried but it actually helps me to stay in positive mindset.
Towards the end of every day, maybe just before you go to sleep, think of 3 things during the day that you are grateful for. It can be things like: “I’m grateful I could experience the singing of the black bird going to work this morning” “I’m grateful for the time I had today playing with my kids / talking to my friend / painting / etc.” “I’m grateful for the positive feedback I received on my presentation in school / at work” etc. Some people chose to write it down to have a their own little book of gratitude to go back to for inspiration when things are tough.
What do you think? How do you stay positive? Do you agree with what I say about “models of reality”?