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May 17, 2023

"Optimism is a choice."

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My intention today is not to be a part of any ‘toxic positivity’ messaging, but rather demonstrate how we can create more positive lives while still remaining authentic to how we’re feeling. It's a fine line that deserves exploration.

And the way we'll do that is in this quote - “Optimism is a choice.” 

Our reality is created by our perspective, which serves as a filter to understanding the world around us. This means that everything we perceive is just a representation of the meaning that we took from it, which comes from years of biases, prejudices, beliefs, and experience. In every moment all of this history creates an unconscious filter we see the world through, and we’ll continue to see the world through this filter unless we change it, good or bad.

The issue with toxic positivity is that sometimes, we try to change this filter in inauthentic ways. We try to force ourselves to see the world that doesn’t feel true to ourselves. The rejection of the truth can cause us to neglect the real emotions that come up as part of life - anger, disappointment, sadness, fear, worry - which leads to them going unaddressed, unprocessed, and unhealed.

Tying this into one of Simon Sinek’s take core philosophies, he has a clever differentiation between positivity and optimism. He says positivity is seeing that everything is good in the present moment, and optimism is a belief that things will be good in the future. 

This nuance is important because it suggests that you don’t need to be positive to be optimistic. You can be deep in anger, disappointment, or sadness and still be optimistic that someday soon it won’t be that way. Optimism gives hope.

So bringing it back to the quote “Optimism is a choice”. It allows you to be authentic about the way you feel in the moment while at the same time shaping your filter for how you want things to be.  

The future is uncertain and incomplete. There’s no authentic way to represent the future because it hasn’t happened yet. So you can choose to see that things will get better and are always getting better. It’s no more or less true than any other alternative, so why not choose the one that supports you the most? 

The cool part about it is that when you do, you’ll start feeling the encouragement and inspiration you need to take action in ways that makes it much more likely to be so. That’s within your power, and it’ll change your life when you harness it.

That’s what we mean by positivity. It’s doing the things that support you in relating with your life more positively and in authentic ways.

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