Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Positive Thinking Trick for the Day - #2

I've been saving up my little pseudophilosophical nuggets JUST FOR YOU. Don't you feel special?

I tend to be a pretty optimistic person - hence the name of this blog. In fact, I think one mark of an optimist is that when you look back on the decisions you've made over that last few years, you're glad that things came out the way they did. That's true of me, and I don't think it diminishes that statement to say that in some parallel universe where I move to California or went to med school straight out of undergrad, I'm sure I'm thinking the same thing.

That's why I was so puzzled when a friend once told me I was a pessimist. I asked her why. She said "Because you see negatives everywhere." I responded that yes, I do identify negatives when I see them; and if you want to get things done, you have to identify obstacles so you know how to solve them. So if optimism is pretending that there are no challenges in life, then I'm not an optimist.

We weren't getting anywhere, but maybe that's because optimism and pessimism are inadequate terms; they're pretty static. Good and bad are hard terms to define outside of goals, so if you're just looking at things and assigning values independent of decisions and actions, you're just spinning your wheels. It's what you decide and what you do that matters. So really a better opposition to think about instead of pessimism versus optimism is fatalism versus - whatever the opposite of fatalism is. Actionism? Freewillism? That's what I am.

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