Monday, July 8, 2013

Foolish Optimism?

I read an article recently that discussed the difference between hope and optimism that I found most interesting, especially since my post The End of Happy Endings. The article was called Why Hope isn't Just Optimism and it basically touched on how trusting in hope and trusting in optimism are really two different things.

Now it can be foolish to blindly trust in optimism. That's a great way to become cynical fast.
If you just believe that things will get better because...things get better, you are likely to discover disappointment. Being optimistic for the sake of being optimistic is not based on a solid reasoning or fact or even probability. Note: I'm not talking about optimism that is based on those things. There are many reasons to be optimistic, but blindly trusting that because you are optimistic everything will turn out for the best isn't a good reason.

Hope on the other hand, has to have an object to be placed on. You hope in a person, a decision, a dream, a future. I suppose it's possible to hope in hope, but I'm not even sure what that would look like. You can place your hope in something that is not worth of it. I can hope a chair will hold me and sit in it, but if it collapses then I placed my hope in something that I shouldn't have. Sometimes these unworthy things are obvious. I'm not going to walk across a river on a bridge made of spider silk. It won't hold me even if I'm optimistic. If I have found a way to combine spider silk into rope and have watch that silk hold the weight of a car, then it is reasonable to think and hope it might hold me too. Yet I am placing more hope in the technic used to turn spider silk into rope than I am the silk itself.

There's nothing wrong with optimism and hope isn't actually better than optimism. Both are important to a healthy lifestyle, because if you don't think things will turn out for the best and you don't have anything to hope in, your life will be hard and miserable. The danger comes when either of these are used excessively without a smidgen of realism. Optimism just needs to be grounded in the realm of things that are possible and hope needs to be placed on things that can see that hope realized. So what do you hope in? How optimistic are you?

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