31 May 2005

Transforming Pessimism

The average Puerto Rican is a pessimist. Now for those of you who confuse surnames with origins, "Schmidt" comes from Germany by way of Ponce, Orocovis, Santurce and Aguadilla.

Back to my point: Pessimism reigns in the average Puerto Rican. The "can do" spirit here is a "can't do" depression. Being pessimistic also leads to a passive attitude, a "somebody save me" malaise that feeds on itself and ultimately leads to feelings of inferiority.

Those of Us who are angry at this point, please stick around: The Jenius is not a pessimist. Those of Us who agree with Me, stick around: there's work to be done. Those who don't care can continue to serve as Exhibit A in the "See the Problem" presentation.

The origin of pessimism is teaching, not instinct. For proof, watch the average toddler learn to walk: pessimists would continue crawling until age 24. We learn to be pessimists, which means We can learn to be optimists.

A brief digression: DON'T give The Jenius that tripe about "pessimists being realists." Optimists are realists, too, for what kind of a world would We live in if the pessimist "vision" dominated? The Jenius can see Us still in trees, picking fruit and slinging poo at lions. (Come to think of it, The Fools almost do that now.)

Now how does one go about "learning" optimism? First of all, it cannot be done by denying pessimism. Humanity has long discovered that denying any part of the Self only strengthens that part of the person. Therefore, one must embrace the pessimistic tendency and lead it in a new direction.

Enter Hegel, or to be precise, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Dispensing with the details, Hegel is known for a philosophical tool (often misused and misquoted, but very useful) known as the "Hegelian dialectic." Defined as Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis, it can be simplified as "A viewpoint + the opposite = a combined solution." As applied to Our quest to change pessimism, it takes the original pessimistic thought, generates the opposite idea and then combines them to find a solution.


Thesis: Puerto Rico cannot become a key global economic player because it is too small.

Antithesis: Puerto Rico is small, but densely populated and thus a beehive of relationships, a key component of the Knowledge Economy.

Synthesis: Bring more of those relationships and relating skills to the forefront of the economic expansion effort (thus obliterating size with overall impact).

The example may be overly simplistic, but the method works at all levels. All it requires is that one take just 2 additional steps beyond the initial pessimistic reaction: generate the opposite (easy), then bring them together for a solution (from easy to difficult.)

Like any habit, it takes time to become proficient in its use. It takes practice. And don't think it can't be done: you learned pessimism, you can learn to do this.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Kevin said...

I think that pessimism is anti-evolutionary. I truly thing that it blocks evolution. Instead of throwing poo at lions, the Fools through it at each other. How de-evolutionary is that?

Let's also digress to examine how pessimism is learned so that we can btter understand what the opposite might look like. I believe that one of the ways we learn pessimism is from the fear of failure. At some point in our lives we attempt something and it turns out differently than we expected. So we then use this situation as a re-enforcing rule the next time we think of accomplishing a task. Well last time I tried something like this, I "failed", so I guess that positive result is just not for me. I think this is perfectly natural. If you stick your hand in the fire reaching for something, it is only logical to think, maybe I shouldn't reach for things because I might get burnt.

The problem enters when our community reinforces that conclusion by saying, oh yes when you reach for things you always get burnt. Other negative auto-suggestions are offered until we are convinced. If you reach for things you will always get burnt. Period, end of story.

Since everyone has become so risk averse, no one offers an alternate suggestion, such as yes if you reach for it from this side of the fire you will get burnt, but have you thought about changing your approach? What about getting a bucket of water and throwing it on the fire first.

Anthony Robbins tells us that the communication we have with ourselves is the most important skill to master. A perfect example is the use of the word "failure". He suggests changing the way we say this to ourself. He recommends recognizing that we always succeed in obtaining a result. Therefore we are always successful. Yes of course, it might be the result we desired, but we can always change our approach and pursue a different result.

Ashar Edith said...

Bla, Bla, Bla... Borring. AND most add That's NOT true!