Breaking Out Of Blind Optimism
6.29.12

I KNOW. I KNOW. That’s not a typo. Peel yourself off of your keyboard. Breaking out of…blind optimism? What the what? Has Katie lost it? Has she experienced a moment of personal crisis? Listened to too much Black Sabbath and mid-90s Alanis Morissette? Taken a few too many sips of crazy juice?

Stay with me here.

Living with an optimistic approach to life is, undoubtedly, a strength and a personal asset. Moving in a forward motion and seeing what could be, the beauty in the possibility instead of the darkness in the seemingly inevitable. However, just like anything, there is balance. And if we pay very close attention, we’ll realize that there is such a thing as being “too” optimistic, such a thing as shutting out the realities of life as a means of avoidance. It’s called Blind Optimism.

How does this happen? How can something so inherently good betray us and bar us in? Blind Optimism is what results when we rely on our positive outlook to ignore, to shut out, to fabricate and gloss over our lives. It can eat us alive – just like Casual Negativity, cynicism, auto-pilot pessimism, and projection. It can gnaw away at our spirit, our relationships, and roll a haze of oblivion over our existence.

Blind Optimism turns us away from facts and reality in favor of the carousel around the corner. Anyone who has ever visited an amusement park or fairground knows: carousels are very, very pretty. And they make us smile (I mean, unless you have some sort of childhood phobia which has stuck with you through adulthood, but I’m going to discount that slight possibility for the sake of this metaphor). Most carousels cost mere quarters to ride – therefore it’s easy to just stay on and go around in circles. But when the ride ends, we’re faced with the world beyond the beautiful lights and porcelain fairytale creatures.

When we find ourselves caught in these nonstop-carousel-ride moments, after a while one of two things starts to happen:

a) The carousel stops being fun and eventually breaks down. There is only so much we can give. There is always a breaking point when it comes to extremes. Always.

b) The carousel becomes bothersome and reeks of falsity; something other people tire of and don’t want to go near. We become a part of the fairy tale world playing on loop. And we find ourselves alone on a ride going nowhere.

People always comment on my optimistic life outlook, and when stuck in the doldrums, ask how I stay so optimistic. And the funny thing is – I don’t necessarily view myself as a glass-half-full Optimist. I always loved the brilliantly crafted songs and the rad penguin dance parties in the movie Mary Poppins, but the Practically Perfect nanny was never someone with whom I identified.

When asked for my “secret,” I chuckle a little and reveal that I’m not really a bona fide Optimist.

I’m just Pragmatically Positive.

Living genuinely is the key. Life’s ups and downs are inevitable, and some moments will seem more hope-filled than others. What can we do about it? We can see the facts in front of us and the projected outcomes ahead of us. And we can root for the positive while still accepting the negative. Not myopically blinding ourselves to the possibility that things aren’t perfectly in place or might go awry. But taking in the world as is, seeing all the good and all the bad, and choosing to build upon what is good and right. It’s like true love: we love fully and deeply when we love others FOR their strengths and weaknesses, similarities and differences – not in spite of them. To break away from Blind Optimism into Pragmatic Positivity, our love of life and, more importantly, ourselves, must transcend those pitfalls and darkness. We must learn to find our smiles without the help of the ceramic ponies and the carousel leading nowhere.

Photo credit here.

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