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Hope Vs. Optimism

May 17th, 2010 10:30am Leave a comment

If I had to take away an important life lesson from all those core classes they make you take here, this one is extremely relevant and is one of the few useful things I can say I was proud to learn in the core.

So I was sitting in religion one day and the professor asked us to define optimism. Easy, right? So I gave it a shot and said something like “it’s being overly hopeful,” at which he immediately laughed in my face, dismissed it and went on a rant about how hope and optimism are two completely separate things.

Optimism can be defined as an extreme positive outlook , a fantasy world, or a naive belief that everything is going to work out in one’s favor. The American Dream was founded based on optimism (ex manifest destiny, the hero will always win, etc). Overall, this country is pretty optimistic. This is nonsense, and here’s why:

From a very young age, children are being brought up as extreme optimists. For instance, in elementary school gym class, everyone is a winner. Ugh. Yes, this prevents a few kids from crying when they lose a basketball game, but this is detrimental for society. Losing one basketball game in third grade doesn’t mean anything in life. If will make you stronger, even if it takes a week to get over. Children need to learn how to lose and accept it, because you can’t get everything you want in life, and from a very young age, kids are being taught that they are all winners, which teaches that losing is not possible or acceptable. Then we wonder why kids enter college or the real world, fail miserably when no one is there to “force the situation to be favorable” and are unable to cope. This is why people get shitfaced all day long and have problems in life.

The problem with optimism is that if people are too optimistic and end up failing, they experience disillusionment and get all confused and messed up in the head. So we’ve established that being overly optimistic isn’t good.

Then you get pessimism, which is just as bad as optimism. People who are pessimists are so negative that they don’t expect anything to go right. It’s been proven that pessimists don’t live as long.  With a pessimistic mindset, what is the point of anything? It leads to self fulfilling prophecies. When people don’t expect anything good to happen, they stop trying. Because of this, nothing good actually happens which reinforces their original belief.

It’s good to be realistic about things. Don’t be too optimistic, but set some reachable goals and expectations and if they come true (which they should because they were within reach), you will be content. Realism: try it out sometime.

So where does hope come in? Hope is the same thing as expectancy – an openness of what is to come. This is not the same as an expectation, which has a clear goal in mind). Because this was a religion class, hope is an openness to receive whatever God wants to give us. Some things are going to be good, and some things are going to be bad, so we should be open to whatever in life. Beyond death, God will save us.

So my question is what the hell is the point of hope if it’s the willingness to receive whatever is to come? Whether or not I am willing to receive whatever comes my way is not going to stop things from coming my way. What a joke. If you put a religious perspective behind it, it makes more sense (aka shit will happen, God will save me).

So where do optimism and pessimism fall in regard to religion? Christian optimism is, the belief that “if I’m a good person, good things will happen to me.”  Well that’s complete bullshit. Good people have some fucked up shit happen to them. Christian pessimism is the idea that “if something bad happens to me, it is because I am being punished for something.” Also the same line of bullshit, but negated. Truth is, you have rotten people and everything can go right for them, and then you can have really really good people, where shit hits the fan all day long.

So where am I going with this ramble? I have no idea. Optimism is bad, pessimism is bad. At the same time you need to be optimistic in order to get ahead in life. But then if you’re too optimistic and fail, you’re confused. If you’re too pessimistic and lose, you expect it, but are still miserable.  This is all one sick game, I’m telling you. I guess the only thing left to do is just accept all the bullshit that happens, and accept all the good and then get saved?

Fuck you, life, I’m here to take in whatever you send my way.

P.S – This is the shit the Jesuits teach about that motivates people to write weird ass blog entries that freak other people out. I mean seriously, half of the time I have no motivation to do any schoolwork (like my history paper – I couldn’t give three shits about that thing and put it off as long as possible). Does it make me lazy, no – I can be very devoted to certain things and spend hundreds of hours on a project. I just have to like it.  What the hell is it that makes me voluntarily write this blog at 5AM? (based on a lesson in a class I thought I wouldn’t care about but was actually good.) Those Jesuits, I’m telling you, they make you reflect.

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