There is a difference between optimism and positivity, or at least the kind of positivity that tries to pretend that bad things never happen, or never happen to good people.
I am an optimist. I read something recently that helped me clarify what that looks like for me. It’s a bit like “It’ll be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” (which I first heard in the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). It also involves recognizing that a lot of things are out of your control, while also recognising that you can take action.
Trying to write something about this led me to a bunch of things I’d already written, so I’m going to share some of those, with a bit of commentary to situate them for you. There are lots of links, mostly to my website’s Library (so-called to acknowledge that even when what I publish there is inspired by something of the moment, it’s mostly not time sensitive). I will write more about this going forward.
I know that the situation we are living through is difficult. I want to share my optimism not to deny or minimise how difficult it is, but rather to help you find a way through this. Drawing on something a yoga teacher used to say, my goal is to make this 5% more comfortable. That seems like an achievable goal.
First up, Hope works better than fear, one of the posts I suggest for people who want to know more about what I do and how I approach things. There is an audio version on Soundcloud if you prefer that.
The thing I read relates to this so I’ll share that, too: Optimism won’t save me … but neither will worrying about shit by Nadia Bolz-Weber. The key difference is that her optimism was for specific outcomes. My hope is focused on qualities. She gets there in the end when she says that she has faith that we will prevail, but I remind you that we don’t know what prevailing will look like.
One specific thing I know you are struggling with is how to make decisions when you don’t know what things are going to look like. I’ve written about this in relation to career planning in You don’t have to know what you’re going to be when you grow up. The same principles apply to shorter term plans. We can’t predict the future. You don’t need to be able to predict the future to make good decisions. Breathe.
As a corollary to that one, you might consider that life is like a video game, particularly in the sense that (as my friend Pace Smith points out) there is always a way forward. The way forward is not easy, and it may not be obvious or immediately accessible, but it exists. I would also add that “forward” doesn’t always look like you think it does, and it’s rarely a straight line.
You should also know that I offer coaching to help you find your way forward. You can learn more about that (and book a free consultation) at JoVanEvery.ca/coaching.
This post was sent to the newsletter on 15th May. It has been lightly edited.