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How To Remain Optimistic In a Negative Universe

They say the grass isn’t always greener but a lonely shore argues otherwise.

“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.” — William James, philosopher and psychologist.

Life’s Treacherous Waters.

It sometimes feels like everything is in turmoil.

Your emotions. Your life. You. Your finances. The economy. The weather. Natural disasters. Domestic political climates. International political climates. Your job. Your lack of a job. It feels like a million paper cuts are slicing across your body. Perhaps you pray to a god or to yourself in hopes things will get better. Perhaps the state of the world — and a quick glance through a history-book — has you believe prayer is worthless. You may accept there are events outside of your control and malicious forces are out to get you no matter what.

If the waters in your life are calm, you may worry about hidden icebergs. As your ship passes through life’s ocean, you see floating driftwood — signs of shipwrecks. The fog grows thick and the captain’s wheel grows cold. Will there eventually come a moment when it all comes crashing down?

Perhaps your ship crashed long ago; you’re left floundering in the sea and clutching a plank of wood. When you see other ships pass by, you call out for them to save you.



The ships and their captains pay you no heed. They merely sail onward before disappearing into a thickening fog and colder waters. You look around, feeling the chills of hopelessness that have consumed so many before you. Your ship had so much promise…yet the icebergs of life did not care. They tore it apart. To make matters worse — and for no discernible reason at all — the ship burst into flames afterward. You survey your own ship’s wreckage and see other ships sailing by without care or mercy. You see the people onboard those ships are laughing, dancing, having a grand old time.

You can even hear music. Bobby Darin’s soft coons from the late 1950’s echo out over the bow:

‘Somewhere…beyond the sea…somewhere, waiting for me…’

You tread water with growing fear and only stop when something rubbery swims past your leg.

Whatever it is, you hope it makes things quick.

It Can Feel Like the Walls are Closing In.

It’s no secret that depression is an epidemic in the modern world. Whether the arguments or reasons lie through the fault of technology, social media, parenting styles, or economic-induced woes, it almost seems like you can’t walk down the street, scroll through your phone, or even turn on the radio without being assaulted by millions of perceived wrongs in the world — whether you believe them to be wrong or not.

It’s also no surprise that success-coaches and business-leaders advise people to tune out any news or information which may cause negative thoughts and emotions. If you walk through the halls of a Fortune 500 company or regional sales-office, you might see posters providing empowerment while also tearing down negative thoughts.

But is it really that simple?

We live in a reaction-based world. To tune out the world around us would mean literally digging a bunker in the ground and living there. Regardless if you’re at work or home, you will need to face and react to personal — and national — current-events if you want to move forward. Whether it’s a new job opportunity, living in a new city, finding a significant other, birth of a family member, death of a family member, economic boom, economic bust — it remains the same.

We are constantly assaulted by events which turn our lives into emotional roller-coasters.

Even if we have courage or ambition to start something or better ourselves, we find ourselves slipping back into old habits. This is one reason contributing to how most New Year’s Resolutions fail just after one month. The universe gets us down sometimes…and so we let it. Regardless if our life-state get us down, we can find ourselves slipping into either indifference or mediocrity when it comes to everything else we do.

How do we solve this?

How can we remain optimistic in a negative universe?

Better ‘Building-Blocks of Matter.’

Decide on What We Can Be Grateful For — Look, I’ve been here. I’ve been at the nexus of Car Breaks Down Blvd. when trying to cross Lost My Job St. Bad things seem to happen in tandem; if misery loves company, the universe seems to love misery even more. In a world where you may not necessarily face unemployment, eviction, car-repairs, home repairs, family costs, sickness, disease, food-shortage, outright famine, or other financial horrors, it’s always important to take time and think about what you do have.

Perhaps there’s a friend you can always count on for support or advice. Perhaps a family member can offer you wisdom or even a place to stay when things get rough. During a time when you don’t have much, it’s always important to take inventory of what you do have.

At least something isn’t nothing.

Chart a Plan to Achieve What’s Lacking — In a world that loves to tell you how doing nothing is safer than trying something, we need to start going against the grain. Once you start taking inventory of your resources, you can design your plan of attack to expand them. Start chipping at the issues on at a time. For the next six months, we’ll start tackling finances. Then we’ll start tackling better eating habits. Then we’ll start making our relationships better. Then we’ll be better to our friends and coworkers…then we’ll…

If it seems like a lot of work — or a tall order only the super-rich or highly-driven are capable of — it’s only because our current habits have been ingrained in us for years. We may possess habits we can’t see until somebody else points them out. If we audit our lives and find nothing wrong, we should ask those close to us if they see cracks in the facade.

Implement Action Until You See the First Change — Baby steps are key here. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor were the Pyramids, the Great Wall, the Library of Alexandria, the Great Lighthouse, the Hanging Gardens, the Nazca Lines, or Kansas-City-style-BBQ. All these things took time. Years. Decades. Centuries. If we’re looking to remain optimistic in a negative universe, all we need is a sign that change is possible and our labor can yield fruit.

The first extra bit of income you may make from a part-time job. The first five pounds lost. The first donation to your charity movement. The first person who walks up to you and says ‘hey, I really appreciate what you do.’ While these won’t signify we will reach our desired destination, they at least give us evidence we’re on the right track.

“When you raise your standards and turn ‘should’ into ‘must,’ you are making an inner shift to take control over the quality of your life.” — Tony Robbins, author, investor, motivational-speaker.


Tuning out cultural noise is still a great idea. If you find yourself motivated by civic or political causes, then always remember there are those willing to fight for what you believe in. For those trying to succeed in business or relationships, negative thoughts and emotions will destroy your plane before it even gets off the runway. Forget pilots — if the wiring in the fuselage was faulty, it was a doomed mission from the very start.

To remain optimistic in a negative universe means believing a better one can exist.

We just need to start building a rocket to get there.



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Samuel Carlton

Writer. Blogger. Sales Professional. Film Buff. Coffee Addict. I write about tech, movies, stories, life, current events, and the future.