The many shades of Optimism

October 7, 2021by Editorial Team

There is so much more to Optimism than what catches the mind. Read on to unravel the layers of Optimism, as mined by the young minds

Optimism is a state of mind; and it is very contagious. Hearing the conviction of your best friend to achieve her dream can make you feel optimistic that you can achieve as well. Optimism is so powerful a force that it can make your beliefs a reality.

Optimism and Hope

Optimism ushers in change, and any change needs an assertion of will power. Improvement is a challenge in developing countries as it requires more money than the rich want to give up. This money is needed to establish the proper infrastructure to improve their lifestyles so that they can dream bigger and strive for more. In order to unleash a change through optimism, one must ask the poor what they want. Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo have mentioned in their book Poor Economics what Jim Yong Kim and his team did for Korea:. “To progress, we have to abandon the habit of reducing the poor to cartoon characters and take the time to really understand their lives, in all their complexity and richness.” Jim Yong Kim is an American physician and anthropologist who served as the 12th President of the World Bank. A little boy from a common family, who grew up to change the world. Optimism is a state of mind that can take over your life and help guide you to that life you always dreamt of. After all, what are we if not creatures of hope? And that hope is achieved only by optimism. However to enter into the zone of Optimism, one has to exit the Comfort zone. As it is said, ” Comfort zones are beautiful, but nothing ever grows there.”

Pessimism, Realism and Optimism

Pessimism is destructive. Realism lacks imagination. And optimism opens all doors. Pessimism, realism and optimism are, in reality, strategies for life and we should choose which team we want to be on very carefully, because the strategy we choose will be a great determinant of our success and the impact we have on the world. Now, though optimism is used as a synonym for happiness, it is not really so. You do not always have to be happy to be an optimist and being an optimist does not necessarily mean you are happy. Optimism means that you could be upset and realize what exactly was going wrong but still believe that it will get better, that you will make the situation better. And that is all that matters. Optimists tend to achieve more , have better health and lead a more enjoyable life. But optimism is not enough at times. Sometimes optimists are blind to reality. But to find that common ground, to balance out optimism and reality, to live in the present and believe in the future is important. This is the thought that opens up new doors to one’s mind. It gives an elevated feel when one, beaming with a positive attitude, comes to be perceived as a ” yes person”. Being less skeptical, critical, insecure and pessimistic opens up opportunities which one is himself is not aware of. It helps one make conscious choices to identify the negatives and find the positive solution in any conflict.

Mistakes in life are inevitable. However, if one is open enough to accept it and put in more effort to avoid repeating them, he demonstrates positivity. In fact there is a mantra of forced positivity prevalent in our culture that teaches us to overcome negative emotions and put an optimistic spin to every bad day. It highlights the notion that though you do not always have control over your circumstance, you can control how you feel. And this correlates strongly with mental health, as multiple studies in Psychology have revealed.

The ‘other’ facet of Optimism

Having an optimistic attitude acts as a motivational factor to overcome hurdles. But is optimism the only factor which leads to the fulfilment of our aspirations? Without proper resources it can be hard to achieve anything. One of the concerns faced by the youth today is the scope of the job industry and machines taking over. Technology is evolving each and everyday and will continue to improve. The application of Artificial Intelligence to solve daily problems has been overwhelming. This puts students in an extremely competitive environment. Do they have to compete against machines too for survival? The paradox lies in that machines still need some level of human supervision. After all, human attributes are a necessity in our socio-cultural ecosystem. Technology and automation tend to create more jobs than they destroy by introducing innovative courses and subjects into our educational curriculum. Look at how far we have come from 2010 when most of the information was written in pen and paper and not spreadsheets. If we are smart enough to build machines with superhuman intelligence, chances are that together with our creative minds and optimistic attitude, we will be able to reach higher goals and not let machines take over. Optimism brings a sense of agency and confidence along with less despair and hopelessness towards our future, as we are witness in the way we are coping with the Covid 19 pandemic.

True optimism is not to be in denial but being aware and accepting the reality of the situation. We have all come very far in adapting the “new normal” and living our day-to-day life, working through it together.

About the authors

The article has been contributed by the following students from Our Lady Queen of the Missions School, Salt Lake, Kolkata: Akriti Lamba, Debanjolee Sett, Himanshi Ganguli and Suzane Ghosh.

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