Choose Strength Over Weakness

“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.” – William James

Pessimism is like asking yourself “How can I fail? How can I connect with, and strengthen, my not-being-able-to-do-it thoughts?”

Optimism is asking yourself, “How can I succeed? How can I call the best of me, of others and what’s around to create the best result possible?”

A lot of people confuse optimism with unrealistic expectations. Optimism is a just a bias, or maybe more usefully, a thinking preference. I see optimism as preferring thinking that looks for possibilities, rather than shutting myself off from them. Optimism doesn’t ignore challenges or difficulties, or insist on continuing,  despite strong indications or evidence that success is highly unlikely, it just asks “If it is possible, and it likely is, how can we?”

Is it appropriate, or even wise, at times to “give up?” Absolutely, but not after really, truly giving it a honest effort. And not to give up completely, only to take a break and reflect on experience and results and proceed anew – with wisdom and new, better plan.

Pessimism is, to my mind, just looking for permission to give up, before even starting.

As I write this I am struck by just how foreign a concept pessimism feels to me. That’s not say that I don’t have pessimistic thoughts or in lesser moments that I am never pessimistic, only that it’s not who I am (at least not anymore… ). What’s more, I don’t feel compelled to explain pessimism as much as I just did optimism.

I urge you to consider the implications, and consequences, of your thinking. Do you agree with James’ words above? And, if so, what will you do to lead yourself towards your power (and not weakness)?


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