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On Opitimism

For some reason, being grounded, balanced, practical, and stable is considered very valuable and good. But if you're a dreamer, believe in yourself and your success, and aim to achieve a lot in life, that’s seen as bad and unproductive personally and family-wise. The prevailing opinion also says not to aim too high because you'll fall hard, not to set big goals because they're unrealistic and laughable, and not to strive for success because

I’ve been reading books about so-called “positive thinking,” success, psychology, and the like for quite some time. Some of them are truly valuable and literally turned my life around. The rest just copy from the valuable ones. But one thing is clear from all of them—if you want to succeed and feel happy, you need to think positively. But why don’t we always manage to do that?

Most people have heard of positive thinking, but Bulgaria seems to have the highest number of pessimists and grumblers per capita. I tried to explore the reasons for this and found a few, personally:

  • “The Pink Glasses Myth”
  • “The Curse of the Happy”
  • “The Hammer and Anvil Syndrome”
  • “The Misunderstanding of Optimism”

Let’s look at them one by one.

The Pink Glasses Myth

For some reason, being grounded, balanced, practical, and stable is considered very valuable and good. But if you’re a dreamer, believe in yourself and your success, and aim to achieve a lot in life, that’s seen as bad and unproductive personally and family-wise. The prevailing opinion also says not to aim too high because you’ll fall hard, not to set big goals because they’re unrealistic and laughable, and not to strive for success because

“You’re just an ordinary person in a messed-up country and can’t achieve much.”

For the “normal” Bulgarian, “normal” goals “should” be not too ambitious, but meet certain standards:

  • a small but cozy home
  • a stable job with a decent salary
  • a not-too-ugly wife
  • healthy children
  • and a vacation at the sea for about 10 days almost every year.

If you think about becoming famous or rich, or both, if you think about starting a successful business, marrying a foreigner, traveling the world, or achieving some record… That automatically makes you a flighty dreamer who

“Was such a good and smart boy, but what nonsense got into his head.”

Society tries to suppress development because mediocrity, like any “organism,” strives to reproduce and maintain its status quo. It has no interest in supporting rapid development and innovation of its individual members, as long as the rest maintain their mediocre, miserable existence. But of course, the individual social unit hardly realizes this. When they see a successful person, they more likely think:

“What is he, that he should have more than me?!”

People are annoyed by dreamers because those dreamers might actually achieve their dreams, and then

“What will I do, who gave up on my dreams back in my childhood years, when I could have achieved them.”

People are annoyed by the ambitious because they might achieve their goals, and then

“I’m screwed again because I aimed so low when it could have been higher.”

Mediocre people want to be surrounded by other mediocre people to feel comfortable and not get agitated.

On the other hand, winners, positive and ambitious individuals like to be surrounded by similar individuals because the others suppress them and prevent them from feeling good. Unfortunately, however, the positive and progressive ones are too few. That’s why we need to support each other. The vast mass of gray units in society can crush us like nothing. We will always remain “the idiots with pink glasses”, and they will always be “grounded, sensible, critical, and responsible individuals”.

The Curse of the Happy

Most people, not to say all, want to have a wonderful future, a good life, happy love, lots of money, and other similar blessings. But they want them secretly. They dare not ask for them loudly, high up, powerfully, irresistibly. They dare not share them with others!

Because they are superstitious. Because they are afraid that things might not turn out as they dream. They are afraid to be positive, considering it bad luck. But actually, they are subconsciously afraid that their dreams might come true, because then – on one hand – they lose the cozy refuge of the once unattainable dream, where they can comfortably relax in the evening after a dull workday or drift into dreams before falling asleep.

Secondly, people get nervous when there’s a chance their dream might actually come true. They start to worry and fear. What will I do now with all this? How do I keep from losing it? What if someone steals it? What about all that responsibility? What will others think? As if the masses of people are afraid to really dream because they lack the strength and courage to face their dreams realized! So when you ask someone,

“How are you doing?” they reply:

“Well, I’m getting by. I’m okay, more or less.”

Most people dare not say:

“I feel great! I’m happy and enjoying every second of life!”

It’s almost indecent to demonstrate your positive attitude – as if you’re entering some sacred territory where superstition reigns, everything hangs by a thread, and you shouldn’t make waves on the perfectly smooth surface of mediocrity. It has become almost shameful to be happy and to look cheerfully at life with hope and faith in the future – people look at you sideways, they envy you, reproach you, laugh at you, declare you a fool and a naive person.

Everywhere is full of people who have an opinion about everything, especially about how something can’t be done. Everyone knows dozens of ways about that. But if you try to find a way to make something happen and achieve success, you become an incredibly cheeky bastard who needs someone to show him his place.

The Hammer and Anvil Syndrome

It’s hard to look brightly and optimistically at life when you have nothing to eat or are wondering how to feed your few children. If you’re overwhelmed with work, problems, worries, enemies, an uncertain future, and no money, it’s nearly impossible to be optimistic and have faith in the future and a happy ending. Yes, it’s hard, but not impossible!

Many people are quite free to discuss the topic of optimism and positive thinking and speak quite authoritatively and eruditely about it. But when they themselves are struck by problems or difficulties, they fall into a gloomy, hostile, negative mood, where even the hint of optimism makes them look at you with malice:

“Don’t you see I have problems? And you’re talking to me about optimism and other nonsense!”

When a person is in such a situation, they are indeed swallowed up by their problems and it takes exceptional faith and spiritual strength to look hopefully into the future, to mobilize, and to continue moving forward and upward, despite everything.

Optimism is for the strong! It’s much easier to be weak, grumbling, and to give up in the face of difficulties and problems!

But if you manage to overcome your negative attitude, if despite everything you break your negative worldview and see light in the long, greasy tunnel of joyless existence, then you are truly strong and deserve to see your dreams realized!

When you find yourself between the hammer and the anvil – it’s a matter of situation, fate, or circumstances. But it’s up to you how you handle that hammer and anvil. You can passively let yourself be shaped and struck, acquiring a strange form, or you can spin around as you wish so that the hammer and anvil shape you according to your desires. Problems are problems – everyone has them.

Each of us gets hit by life in one way or another, and most people have very little control over the overall situation. But what we do have full control over is our attitude towards life and ourselves.

If we think of ourselves as victims and act like victims – we are already victims. If we think like winners and act like winners – then the hammer and anvil will only temper us and give us a more functional and combat-ready shape.

When you find yourself between the hammer and anvil, strive to become a sword, not a horseshoe.

The Misunderstanding About Optimism

Not everyone knows what it means to be an optimist. Most people are negatively inclined towards this concept because they think being an optimist means believing in impossible things, thinking that everything is nice and beautiful, and living in your own unreal world of happiness and goodness. The innate pragmatism of people here howls and does not allow a word to be said in favor of optimism.

But I think there’s a huge misunderstanding here. Being an optimist doesn’t mean seeing in pink and ignoring the problem. Optimism is more of an attitude towards things, a way of thinking, where a person sees not only the problem but also its solution.

While negatively inclined personalities see mainly the problems and the culprits for them, positive ones acknowledge these factors but look for the solution. For them, it’s more important to develop and move forward, solving problems, rather than moaning and lamenting the presence of these problems.

Being an optimist is an attitude – towards yourself and life!

Looking positively at things means striving to achieve the best for yourself, growing by overcoming your problems, and fighting with all means for victory, success, and the realization of your dreams. If you think your past was filled with problems and misery, it’s not so. Nothing like that is there. There are only lessons that need to be learned and steps that lead upward, to the position where you are now.

If your present is filled with problems – get glasses! It’s not so! Your present is filled with challenges, each of which for you is a chance to achieve more than in the previous moment and a chance to develop.

If your future seems gloomy, know that you’ve bought the wrong glasses – those are sunglasses. Throw them away. Don’t put on the pink ones – just look into the future with your own eyes and heart. What’s there? There’s sun and joy, life and happiness.

And the best part is that between these things and you there is a path, a road, a staircase, or even a red carpet. You just need to step on it and start the most interesting and fun adventure of your life, namely – its full and positive experience!

The right direction is “forward and upward!” Start and continue – only forward and only upward! The path has no end, and the mentioned bonuses – happiness, joy, life, love – you receive along the way.

Because happiness is not the endpoint of the journey, but the journey itself!

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