Optimism: What Young People Need To Change The World
The world will always have difficulties, adversities, and challenges that have never existed before. With all the negativity and pessimism, we may not be able to solve them. Unless we proactively create and encourage more people to be optimistic… we will never solve them.
— Juan David Campolargo
A Generation of Pessimists
My generation (Gen Z) is one of the most pessimistic in history. Although now is the best time to be alive for thousands of reasons, people surprisingly seem to think the exact opposite.
In myriad ways, life has never been better: education, entertainment, health care, information, medicine, science, sports, technology, etc. are all the best they’ve ever been and only going to continue improving. We’re undoubtedly living in the greatest time of all human history, and we’re extremely fortunate to be alive, yet some people think we’re living in the worst time ever. Lack of perspective — that’s what I think when I hear people make such pessimistic remarks.
Everyone seems to believe the world is in some way getting worse, but let’s look at the facts for a minute. According to the Gates Foundation, in their 2017 annual letter, Bill and Melinda Gates expressed they were so optimistic about the future that they thought you should be too. As the co-chairs of the foundation, they explained that the world is doing a lot better than the public gives it credit for. People aren’t as poor, as sick, or as unequal as they used to be.
Why do we think the world is regressing, then? To me, the answer to this question is fascinating.
We are supposedly living in the worst time in history…supposedly. Is that true, though? Or is it just what 0.1% of the population says?
What Is Optimism Anyway?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, optimism is “hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.” That’s an interesting definition, but I would also like to define the word “optimist.” An optimist is someone who expects the future to be better and through their actions manifests ideas into being. That sounds amazing, but does simply hoping for an idyllic future actually translate to having the future we want?
I remember reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which briefly describes the journey of a young shepherd finding what he called his “Personal Legend.” A personal legend describes one’s destiny in life. In this exciting and dangerous journey, what mainly caused the boy to find his personal legend was his strong and unwavering conviction that he would actually find it. By being optimistic (or hoping), this bold shepherd brought his ideas into being and found his personal legend.
Optimism can also be explained by using narratives. A narrative is the little voice we hear in our head all the time or, as the Cambridge Dictionary defines it, “a particular way of explaining or understanding events.” Our narratives influence our perception of reality in ways you can’t even imagine. For example, let’s say my narrative is pessimistic regarding the current state of the world. My narrative will persuade my mind to believe my perception is reality. My brain will start to find biased evidence to support my claim that the world is getting worse by narrowing down facts and zeroing in on claims that life in the past was better, simpler, and/or easier.
Optimism is regarded by many as unpractical and simply delusional, but such a perspective can, indeed, be extraordinarily helpful, and you’ll learn more about that in the next articles.
Find a pair of glasses and put them on. If they are sunglasses, you’ll likely see a darker image, but if they are reading glasses, you’ll see everything closer than it is. I like to use this analogy: we see with our lenses and we see through the lenses, but we don’t see the lenses themselves.
Read that sentence again.
What most people don’t know is that we have agency over them. We can build, create, and change our lenses for the ones we desire. How we perceive things (our lenses of reality) determines the kind of experience we are going to have.
Solution: Get a new pair of glasses.
By reading this book, I will give you for FREE the new pair of lenses you need.