Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Realist

"The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change; The Realist adjusts the sails."
- William A. Ward
I have been raised to be a firm believer in attitude affects everything. Life is %10 what happens to you and %90 how you decide to handle it. There is obviously a wide gambit of ways to handle any single unfortunate situation. However Mr. Ward broke those infinite ways down into the three most categorically common viewpoints on a problem.

a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.

The Pessimist viewpoint is one that I have spent my entire life trying to avoid. Loss of loved ones, tragic events, and fundamentally life shattering events happen to everyone throughout the course of their lives. Each life is different and it is not fair to compare two views of the universe and reality side by side. That being said, spending any time dwelling on past events purely for the purpose of self-pity and loathing, and hoping for rescue is an absolute complete waste of time. It brings yourself down, it brings others around you down, and most importantly it does absolutely nothing to change the course of your future or change the direction your ship is sailing. I don't like spending time on useless things, I view my time as a very precious resource and the more of it that I spend happy and productive the more efficient I am being. I enjoy being efficient, it must be the engineer in me. I also want to make it very clear that I am not talking about those who suffering from depression, which is a very real ailment. I am talking about those who choose to blame the world around them for their misfortunes. Alternatively those who suffer from depression in my experience lean more on the side of blaming themselves. (Side note) Please, if you feel like you or anyone you know is suffering from depression please visit for information and resources. For my own experiences with pessimism I always try to recognize when I am operating in such a manner. The quicker I recognize it the sooner I can shift my focus, energy, and efforts to more positive, productive, and efficient things.

hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

The Optimist viewpoint is something that was largely taught to me by my mother. Not that my mother was always sunshine and rainbows, but because she was tough. She would always tell me to get over things and that "This too shall pass". She showed me through her actions that being resilient and always looking forward were the best ways to handle any crappy situation. Though she did tell me on several occasions that it’s okay to cry to let the emotion out, just don't let it consume you. That's the irony... my mother preached tough love, but showed so much empathy and understanding. I like to think that I received some of both. The single most important part of viewing things optimistically as opposed to the inverse is simply that better outcomes always follow. It might be simply the way you perceive future events, It might be that your positive attitude places you into favorable situations and around positive people, or it might be that it is a fallacy to think that one’s perception of the universe changes its path through it. Whatever the case may be, I can say that I have always experienced better results, and even been surprised, when I deliberately center my intentions on the better of all possible outcomes. I have yet to come across a reason in my life that tells me otherwise.

the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.

The Realist point of view is without a doubt how I feel I approach all situations in my life. In my mind it is the combination of eternal optimism with cautious pessimism. That and the understanding that reflection and intelligent action is the best way forward. Why? Because of all that is written above. Why waste time on things that are out of ones control, instead of using sadness as an excuse; let it build you into a better person. Why not attempt to change the course of your life, It is all you have, your actions and the little bit of consciousness between your skull is the only thing you can control. That is it... you have no control over anything else in your life so take charge of what you can, evaluate your surroundings, and make the best informed decision you can based on that. Understanding that at any given point in time, this is all you have... the past is unchangeable and the future is unknown and yours for the taking. Eliminate arrogance, hubris, weakness, and self-pity; Add compassion, humility, action, and determination. You now have the ingredients for being a realist.

Now go out into the world as Mr. Ward would have wanted and chart your own course, take everything in, leave nothing for granted, and live your life as you dictate it.


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