Existential Psychology


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Optimism is a state you should cultivate, but not for the reason you might think. Obviously it feels really good to be optimistic. You are buoyant with positivity instead of mired in negativity, hopeful instead of hopeless, you’re smiling and upbeat, ready to take on the world. Your optimistic attitude acts as a shield against mental illness, protecting you from falling into a depression, usually making your relationships and your life light and fun.

All of these reasons are enough on their own, but the reason we have in mind to cultivate optimism is that the state acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, making whatever it is you are optimistic about more likely to come to pass than if you are pessimistic. You don’t get results in anything by jumping from start to finish, there are many steps in between, and each step is just as necessary as the last to reach your desired end.

Your optimism will make you more likely to keep walking even when the sledding gets tough, to take the inevitable setbacks in stride, to roll with the punches and stay focused on achieving your goal. The fact that you believe you will attain this goal is the very condition that allows you to attain it because you keep going where others are likely to throw in the towel.

We tend to think of the optimistic attitude as ephemeral, as something that is nice but doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with practical reality. But this is a mistake because reality is co-created by us during every moment of our existence based on the attitude we take towards our existence. This attitude directly impacts our thoughts, feelings, and resultant actions, leading to a cascade of other thoughts, feelings, and actions.

When you begin an endeavor, cultivate your optimism, try to keep the embers burning despite the barriers you encounter, and you will increase the likelihood of making what your goal come to pass. You can’t control everything that happens but you can control how you react to everything that happens. Believing that if you just keep working hard and doing everything in your power to get results things will work out is the best way to insure that they do eventually work out.