My Combatant Optimism, Far from Symptoms of Starry Eyes
It's Not About Keeping Fingers Crossed
"If it was not for bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all" -- said pessimist
If I tried to describe my personality make up, somewhere near the center of that picture would be this combative optimism. Which is to say that I am not blindly believing in good future outcomes, but working in here-and-now to make them happen.
It basically boils down to cutting through all the crap of can'titis, blaming others, seeing them responsible for the ways things will turn out, and otherwise giving up my own power over my life.
So it has plenty to do with my strong sense of personal sovereignty, saying that if the whole world -- minus one person (me) painted their prognoses in certain way, I would stick to my own, because that's the only one my life depends on.
Call it subjectivity against objectivity, if you wish, but somewhere along the lengthy path of my spiritual maturing I gladly dropped my faith in objectivity --- or would you rather call it "common sense". Well, just because something is "common", doesn't mean it's automatically correct -- and correct would make it being usable in my own life.
When we talk about "common" we really think "customary", like believing that the Earth is flat, or that red-headed women are witches, or that eating eggs is bad for you. So, people are bound to form their predictions of future on basis of their convictions, while optimism -- beside being rare to start with -- may be of a blind kind, based on denial of reality, and "hoping" for favorable outcomes.
And even those blind optimists are secretly worrying, using their optimism only as a defense mechanism, something of the value of keeping fingers crossed.
Thus, my own philosophy about optimism would be spelled out with these few words: Do your best in each here-and-now, and future will take care of itself.
Experiences Copied Mean Life Stagnating
"Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down." -- Roy T. Bennett
Now, contrary to popular practices of pragmatism, I don't estimate upcoming results by referring to my past experiences. It stems from my general philosophy saying that future is not to be a copy of the past.
By my firm convictions, life repeated is life stagnating. For, we have to create components which will make the equation between present and future different. If we don't do that, the whole life turns into a predictable routine leaving no room for its upgrading.
I tend to also call it mental laziness, or mental inertia, when automatisms of living have taken charge over creativity, with model of life resembling the one of an animal which lives by a programmed instinct. Then, even if a past positive outcomes give reason for optimism about their future copies, our brain muscle goes flabby from not being used, making us unready for unforeseen turnouts.
It seems now that I have fromever been one or another version of a combatant optimist, if I should judge by my teenage memories of a close friend who used to call me "undefined and unpredictable". Namely, I always liked coming up with some fresh ideas of how to do same things in different ways. And I responded to the same events in new manner, almost intuitively seeing a repeated fun as a waste of time.
Now, as I am mentioning that "teenage-me", I must say that it's mostly a figure of speech for me, because I don't intimately relate to any past-me as me. Any of those versions of me couldn't compute into their reasoning and emotionality these new elements which I can today, so it's wrong to say that now I am living "their future".
Likewise, some future-me will have his own mental algorithms of processing his reality, meaning that I can't now "think for him" -- I can only do my best in this now, combating inner tendencies of mental laziness, and by feeling optimistic that in the unbroken chain of "now"- moments things have to be just fine and beyond that.
With No Outer, but Inner Enemies to Combat
"Take responsibility of your own happiness, never put it in other people's hands."
-- Roy T. Bennett
As you may have easily noticed, my combatant optimism is propelled by my sole reliance on my own resources, mental and physical -- not relying on the goodwill of the world. That includes those folks close to me, as well as the world in its totality.
It's not the world's duty to adjust to me, it was here already when I arrived, so I might as well build my future minimizing the frictions caused by personal differences between me and "them".
So, despite my choice of defining my optimism as "combatant" -- it is not a combat with all those out there who "have a nerve not to comply with my future interests", but a combat with my own vulnerability, my victimhood-tendencies, my own babying myself.
Long ago I realized that "accepting myself" never meant that I would also love myself "unconditionally". Early in life I noticed that some individuals that I came across were not lovable at all, and if I could not appreciate them staying in my life, how could I blindly love some crap in myself.
That's from where this combatant positionality originates -- I first had to respect the person who would deserve a bright future. I am not selling myself to the world "as is" -- like I would be selling a used car. I want to have that feeling that I am doing my best, or at least close to it -- and then, if my best is not good enough, so be it, I just can't expect what's beyond my reach.
Our priorities play a big part in all that. Like, I was never materialistic by nature, more of a meditative type, romantic, philosophical -- so my optimism, accordingly, never included getting filthy rich. And if I ever won big on lottery, again, I wouldn't seek clubs of rich folks and show off -- I would buy me a house in Hawaii, surrounded by flowers, pristine nature, stand on a sandy beach and gaze at the sunset, and that would make me happy, not my bank account.
But hey, I can produce a mood similar to that one at will, so let a more lucky dude win that jackpot. Luck is O.K., but my combatant optimism doesn't rely on it.
Good Present Investment = Good Outcomes
"What day is it?" - asked Pooh
"It's today." - squeaked Piglet
"My favorite day." - said Pooh
-- A.A. Milne
I couldn't wrap up this theme of combatant optimism without saying a few about its benefits on our overall health. Namely, it matches the very basic principle of life in us saying that it can only happen in here-and-now.
There are no yesterdays and tomorrows as far as our biology is concerned -- we can only compute our memories and expectations into experience of each and every current moment.
Our cells are constantly spying on "how safe our environment is", -- according to our interpretations of it -- activating some genes and deactivating others accordingly, making us healthy or not.
So, when our cells live in a constant stress of "uncertainty sugarcoated with false optimism", they don't really feel well, since they always see our expectations only as their present.
When, on the other hand, we stay attached to the here-and-now and doing our best, we are coaching our cells towards higher levels of vitality. They can trust us, drop their defenses, and focus on doing their own best of healing, repairing, growing -- not wasting their energies on dealing with stress.
So, every morning we wake up, our spirit of combatant optimism tells us that the day will be just great -- because we will make it so. Not relying on the mercy of favorable circumstances, from a good weather to a smooth traffic, to a good mood of our boss, and so on -- but knowing that outcomes will be of our own make.
And our body cells will give us all the energy after they instantly interpret that smile on our face as the "war paint" of a warrior ready to face the world with all we have in our arsenal of living, and our spirit of enjoying it.
Ultimately, our future happiness will not depend on our expectations, but on the spirit of a combatant optimisms which is investing in that happiness in the only time there is -- now.
© 2020 Vladimir Karas