Optimism and pessimism

When I talk to people or when they read what I write, they often tell me that I am a pessimist. I should focus on the positives in life, they say, instead on focussing on negative factors such as insecurity, death and fear.

However, I tell them that I am merely being realistic. The meditative mind faces facts and does not run after ideals.

Fact: our bodies and minds face impermanence and death every day.

Fact: the world is burning with violence and war, both at micro and macro levels.

Fact: personal sorrow and societal sorrow have tremendous weight.

I don’t deny that people can be generous and compassionate. But these human qualities don’t seem to be our default mode of operation, in personal life or at a wider scale. If they were our default mode, society would function very differently.

I feel it is important to recognise these issues at a very very deep level. If we don’t recognise them, if we paper over them in order to feel better about ourselves, then we will never give our human problems the serious attention and energy they deserve.

Our houses are burning. We need to wake up to this fact.


4 thoughts on “Optimism and pessimism

  1. I have wanted to write something about the falsity of optimism for a while now. Thank you, this is very good. “Our houses are burning. We need to wake up to this fact.” That’s perfect.


  2. I, too, am grounded to reality. But if I were to weigh myself, I opt to look more at things in a positive way. Life is already hard and a lot of negatives are surround us. So, for myself, I just want to keep a little bit of optimism so I don’t bog down the people around me. 😊


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