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Being positive while being realistic

Updated on September 2, 2012

Distinction between positive thinking and illusory thinking

In today's world, it's very easy to feel anxious and stressed out. Life itself has become complex and we have to deal with many situations, so it's very important that, since childhood, we proceed to take life in a manner which is the more responsible and healthy. This is not easy as many situations can lead to catastrophic consequences and it's almost unavoidable to feel extremely worried at certain points of life. While we can take control of some things- like for example; keep abstinent or use protection during a sexual act, avoid drugs (both using or trafficking with them), driving responsibly- avoid drinking before driving, and so forth- there are others that are totally out of our hands and can lead us to similar "tragedies", like losing a job in a massive layoff, being expelled from college for failing even after studying hard because professors were excessively demanding, or divorcing because the partner chosen for lifetime was unfaithful even when you tried to be the best spouse possible. We are all in a world in which sometimes, things are not fair and cannot be "changed". Yet, there are also many things we can do to enjoy life and be as happy as possible- travel around, take time to meditate and think about ourselves to become better people, sharing time with family and friends, read a book, write, etc.

The difference of how we take life and how we live depends on our mindset. A realistic mindset is always crucial to live the right way. Denying realities, deceiving ourselves to believe something we know deep inside they are bogus, like for example wanting to think a woman or a man is interested in one when that woman or man is only acting politely and shows no real sign of a particular romantic interest; and totally discarding the possibility of failure in a task that you can't really assure success in any way, only makes life more complicated and eventually could be dangerous. Yet- always living in a pessimistic way, only thinking about the possibility of failure and overall preparing mostly for a negative outcome is just as dangerous and certainly makes the feared outcome to be more probable. We have to find a way to be both positive and realistic.

Realistic and positive thinking

An example of positive thinking is what some of us do here in Hubpages- we write with the hope we can reach many people with our message. Some of us also want to get some good money out of this task. Some hubbers have won a good amount of money, while some of us are still winning cents per day, yet we have to decide- are we going to give up because there are not many views and we don't want to have only $1/month, or are we going to keep trying? Certainly we can browse all over the Internet to see opinions on something we want to do- like write a book, follow a new career or making a serious decision and read the realistic side of the path being not as easy as we wish. If one wants to be a doctor, the person needs to go to college for almost a decade in average. Some people go up to it while others say "nah... I'm not going to wait ten years to achieve my dream". Truth is, most things that can be "promising" to our financial health are not going to be easy to achieve. Our world is configured in a way in which a general stable life requires a lot of effort. Sometimes, it will take some failures to finally achieve success. Almost all of us, deep inside, would really wish to become millionaires in the blink of an eye. Some of us love to do our job but we have to see how this is not the majority: people generally hate Mondays and celebrate Fridays, especially in long-weekends, with excessive drinking and celebration. Why? Because the job environment today is irritating. People gossip, bosses growl at employees, there is always a fear of becoming unemployed and while we may love to do the job in its nature, we don't like to be criticized in the harsh way most of us are in the workplace. Not to mention there is work bullying and the stress of deadlines. This is all REALISTIC. It may sound negative, but is not. This is very important- as people take realistic scenarios as negative, they show they are not wanting to take life responsibly. It's very easy to confuse reality with negativism. The difference between both is defined in the aspect that a negative thinking lies in hoping for the worst without a real reason to expect it. To say that today's job site is harsh is not negative. If it wasn't that way, people would love Mondays and hate Fridays instead. If most people love their work, then it would be all in reverse: People will enter Fridays in a sad mood, because they want to work; and Sundays they are going to be pumped out and excited for a new week of doing what they love to do. In reality, it is not the nature of the job that bothers most people who work. Engineers love to analyze, calculate and design; lawyers love to defend and read about different situations in lieu of what they will do in court; doctors love to cure and help patients; what they don't love is to have to deal with a growling, inconsiderate boss that will ask them to work overtime and take time away from sharing with their spouses and children, or that will criticize them for their mistakes or having to deal with hard-to-take coworkers that spend half of the day of work gossiping and talking babble. The general solution is "deal with it". That is, the solution adopted is to "learn to live unhappy". This is all realistic. If you want to think this is negative and would want to prepare only for an "illusory" scenario of having a job in which you know you will not take bad surprises and you know you are sure will retire there, then I hope you don't crack up if it does not work out that way. Although such scenario is not impossible, today it's extremely naïve to think it will happen.

We all have a limit. There are people out there that in spite of all this, take life as easy as possible and generally focus on the good things. These are the people that you won't read in Facebook to be yelling or criticizing. I am not one of them, just in case. But there are people who will live happily and learn to be strong at the baddest situations that they may have to face. These people appear to be the happiest of all because they don't deny the realistic aspect of life, which sometimes is not really "lovely". But they will say "whatever" and "things will work out" and do not spend a minute thinking of the negative outcome of something and if it so happens, they will look at another solution and won't care about others criticizing them.

Faith and illusions

Faith is an extremely important aspect in each human, regardless if it is in yourself, God, or someone else. Faith is an aspect that is easiest to lose when there are too many failures happening in a short amount of time. For example- you apply for different jobs, register for an exam and apply to college, all three in an attempt to leave the "doing nothing" scenario in your life. It results that for different reasons, they all deny you. Let's say you had faith to be cured from a serious illness, and you got to surgery, and it did not work out- they tell you it's too late. All this circumstances- realistically possible- attack faith and in vulnerable people, it may obliterate it. But faith (in this case I am also meaning hope), when lost, means that there is no more enthusiasm in life, and only depression is left. If it is true that the way the world is configured today socially and economically allows for this to happen, we also have to be aware there are good people and associations that are there to help. There have been many people who have failed for a long time and then are able to recover and manage to be successful- even more successful than those who do not meet too many failures in their lives. They had a life which is analogous to Job, the Bible character- they lost everything and spend years in suffering, and later they recover to have the double they lost. This is also a possible scenario so this should serve as a hope for everybody, especially to those who seem to see no exit to their current tragedies. Of course, it requires effort to find a solution, but the issue is that it's not impossible to find a solution regardless of the grim picture you see in your life now.

But, faith and hope should always, always be accompanied by reality. When it is based on an illusion, it is going to be dangerous and will generally bring deception and disappointment. It is very common to listen to advices based on illusions: "you will find someone great in your life soon", "you will get a job when you graduate you'll see, you are very good and you deserve it", "things are going to get better if you vote for X you just wait"... these are example of illusory statements. We all know that unfortunately a college degree does not promise you a job. In fact, there are many people who have no degrees beyond high school and get a job that may require someone with advanced knowledge; we all know that while the general mindset of the American society keeps being the same, there is no way things are going to get better, and we all know that if you want to find a good woman and man in your life it will come, if it does, in the right time, not "soon". These may be considered "motivating" statements, but they are not realistic. The person who hears and reads these advices and statement must use their right judgment to understand they are "possible", not "guaranteed".

Some people take illusory statements as realistic and work up to it- and are successful, the actual illusion, or dream, becomes a reality. We all have heard "you can reach your dreams". This is a form of statement that lies in the boundary between illusion and reality. For the extremely poor in places like Africa, saying this to a massive group of people will automatically make it illusory. Some of them may be lucky to success, but sadly we know not all of them will. Saying this to someone who has the resources, the skills and the ability to do it, then this would be a realistic statement. That is, for some this would be "if you know you can walk, you will", while for others is "if you know you can fly (literally), you will". Motivational statement have to be taken with a realistic point of view. Those who success will tell you it's possible. But those who have been unemployed for a long time or who are poor and have been unable to find a solution will even insult you if you come to them with such motivational statements, especially if you don't know what "real failure" is.

In life we all have to carry two bags, at all times. We may face a long season of success, thinking we will never meet a sad season of fall. You can be an honor student, graduate with 4.00 GPA, and find a job and be there for 20 years. That does not mean you will never fall. Sometimes, failure and hard times happens in any form- loss of job, divorce, health complications, financial struggle, children who eventually get involved in drugs, or a sudden, tragic accident. You can be up now, but then can be down. But, you can be down now, but then get really in the top. Always think positive but put your effort and carry those two bags (success and strength to handle failure) and you will generally achieve happiness. Hard times are coming ahead- realize you will not always be in La La Land. But get ready the right way. Don't ever judge and criticize others who are in bad times because if then it happens to you, you will really regret it.

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