“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha
“Always look on the bright side of life” the characters sing at the ending of the Monty Python film A Life of Brian, optimistic right until the bitter end!
Life isn’t so much about being optimistic all the time, but in finding a balance, while also holding onto the knowledge that to some extent, you will always dictate your reality. There have been countless times when I’ve made a biased decision about a situation that was decidedly negative or hurtful.
Take for instance something as common as your day job. Chances are, if you’ve worked in one place for a decidedly long time, your opinion of it is pretty concrete. Perhaps it’s ‘just paying the bills’ or ‘something you got forced into taking because of the schooling your parents made you take’. And so all of your life perspective surrounding your job will always be, to some extent or another, unpleasant. Just as a hotel cleaning staff can see their job as “picking up other people’s garbage” or “helping provide a clean and comfortable environment for guests”, it’s possible to see your job in a similar light.
If you view the above as lying to yourself, and impossible, you’re right. As viewed, so appears. Whether you’ve been working in a place for one year or five years, it’s still very much possible to change the story of your situation, or it’s not possible, if that is the story you’ve decided.
Storytelling is something we’re great at as a society. “I’m not good enough for that person”, “Nothing I do matters anyways”, “It’s too late for me to make that big of a chance at this age”. All of the above are decidedly, very real, and completely true for the people who are saying them. Though I’m not here to tell you to put on the sound of the ocean and chant “I am abundant”, that may not be the straightest route to changing your perspective.
Aristotle has a philosophic rule called the golden mean, that is, the desirable middle between two extremes.
The golden mean could be something like “I have goals and dreams, I’m willing to take action that matters to me to go towards those”. A realistic and humble story, is one that is much easier to swallow, and much closer to the objective truth. The ego loves the extremes, “Of course I’m a failure, look at all the times I messed up, pity me!” or alternatively “Look at how amazing I am, I can do not wrong, bow before me!” but it has difficulty inflating or deflating humility, there is little to corrupt in the truth.
You may not have the power to create massive change in your current situation right now, and perhaps aiming for massive change at the offset is a problematic way to start off anyways. It can take daily effort to stay out of one of the two extremes. If you proceed with the knowledge that you’re putting in the effort, and not doing so because you’re afraid of being a failure or trying to be the greatest ever, the chances of success in any aspect of life are that much greater. The grind is real.