If there’s one thing that always fascinated me, it’s the concept of using psychology to influence our behavior. Of using our minds to create a certain image of the world that will cause us to act and live differently. And yes, this is as pseudo-sciency as it gets.
Take for example one of the beliefs that most define me: I believe that nothing that happens is ever bad. The good in a seemingly bad thing can be a learning experience or getting our asses away from bigger trouble, even if it’s not apparent at first sight. I believe the universe knows best what is good for us and whatever happens, happens with that as its purpose.
That of course puts me in a group that everyone refers to as “the optimists.”
Now, I do know how ludicrous that belief is. I do know that for all intents and purposes, the universe and everything that happens to us is random and a byproduct of chance. Those are things I know. I wouldn’t ever try to scientifically prove my belief because I know it’s inherently superstitious and philosophical. But do you know what else? I don’t care.
This might sound controversial to those who know me as a seeker of truth, but bear with me for a second. I also believe that this search for truth is as psychological as it’s physical and emotional. I believe the search for truth to be at its core a search for happiness and for a better life. And in the latter, my belief serves me well. Very well.
In being as optimistic as I am and believing that the universe has my well being as its priority, I can look at a bad event, extract the good from it and move on without getting down, without falling into the trap of thinking the world is out to get me. Instead, I like to believe that the world is out to help me.
And help me it does. I might be insanely lucky, or it might be a self fulfilling prophecy, but I find (once again from anecdotal evidence) that people who are inherently optimistic about their lives, about the world and their place in it, tend to be happier. More good things tend to happen to them, they enjoy their successes more and they come more often. And when they fail? They don’t get down. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off and head on forward. That was just a minor roadbump.
I pick the optimism example because it’s easy to describe and make palpable, but there are many, many other cases in which I (in an interesting paradox) rationally decide to be idealistic instead of rational and see things for what they truly are, simply because I know that this worldview will help me in the long run. Whether it is serving customers better, training harder, running faster or being more respectful toward my teachers and professors. I prefer to adopt the belief that will help me live better and treat others better.
What do you prefer?