The world lacks enthusiasm.
More people pushing for better beats so many fending off worse. Those who see it differently, those who imagine what things could be, how things can improve. We’re too bent on the purposeful use of a pessimist’s view. You need to counteract the insufferable pessimism with hope, with a dream, with anything to actually look forward to.
“Pessimists get to be right. Optimists get to be rich.” - Shaan Puri
Shaan may be talking about wealth here, but optimists get to live richer lives too. They’re embedded in a more enjoyable story.
Who doesn’t want that?
Aiming for what's most ideal and letting reality bring you back down a few notches leaves you in a better spot than simply shooting for realistic.
I used to think if my mindset didn’t scale, I shouldn’t have it.
Meaning, that if the world would fall apart if every single person held the same beliefs as me, I should change what I believe. I’m not sure where this idea came from, maybe it was ingrained pessimism. Now I view it more evolutionarily. People can have different functions in society. Some are here to maintain as-is. Others are the innovators, the inventors, the risk-takers. The crazy ones trying something new, making a detour off the determined path.
I fall into that camp.
It’s taken a while to fully own this position. To stop trying to make my triangular self fit into the square status quo.
Over the last several months, the Founders Podcast has helped a ton. The host, David Senra, covers 100s of different biographies of history’s greatest entrepreneurs. So, back to back I get to hear the life story of some amazing (and flawed) humans who did things so differently, a book was written about them.
When I immerse myself into their stories I realize I’m not alone. There are other crazies out there too. It’s a pattern. People who dream and want to make a dent.
Granted, many of them mess things up outside their success - ruined families, poor health, etc. You name it, they messed it up. What’s great is they share what to do and what to avoid. From their old age, they fire off the tips and terrain. The regrets too. You get to instantly download their life lessons with context so you don’t make the same mistakes they did.
I don’t know about you, but I come from a crabs-in-the-bucket place.
Don’t get too high, don’t get too low type of thing.
Yes, go be a doctor or something with a nice salary. Stick to the conventional path. If left up to my family alone, my motivations wouldn’t suffice.
To most of my family, I’ve already ‘made it’ in some sense. I have a nice home, a beautiful family, moved to a bigger town, a good job, etc. They’re already impressed and consider me successful.
I don’t say this to brag, I say this to let you know that to me, it feels as though I’m just getting started.
We’re looking at different games here.
Perhaps to a few others in our family, I’m flopping and failing because I haven’t hit some other Joneses’ status. It's a completely different view of the situation, but I don’t find value in those opinions either. They are just as not true as the other.
It’s not how I see it.
I’m somewhere in the middle. And at the same time, beyond those two viewpoints.
Yes, I have achieved quite a few things, but I’m still in an ascent too.
This is no plateau.
This is no stationary thing.
This is the early days.
This is still the beginning.
I’m still wiping the sleep out of my eyes, yawning through my morning stretch.
It’s prime time to go for it.
It’s time to build.
If you’re caught up in the times, it’s impossible to hold onto. You have to anchor yourself to something bigger, independent of the world - a vision.
The most popular thing you can do nowadays is join Team Doom or Team Gloom. It’s virtue-signaling versus conspiracy theory. But you don’t have to fall into these pre-paved clubs.
You can rebel.
You can choose the third option.
The one where you keep your power and look forward to tomorrow. You’re screwed without hope. And if you think the world’s messed up beyond repair and there’s nothing you can do about it - why bother? Or, if you’re lucky, you can still make out the faint light up ahead.
You can choose to believe Goodness is around the corner, that it will prevail.
You can choose to be on the side of history that doesn’t preemptively go through their basement of canned beans in a paranoid frenzy. Or jump off a bridge out of a selfish delusion.
Informed optimism is not easy.
It’s hard as hell.
It’s heavy af.
It’s a lot. It’s the most you can bear.
It’s as E.B. White put it, “Joy despite the facts.”
It’s seeing it through against all odds.
There aren’t that many of us.
And it’s for understandable reasons. Life is hard. People do terrible things and there’s evidence of corruption in almost everything. You can see why it’s easy to become bitter. You can see why many let their hope balloon float off into the sky.
I’m not calling for uninformed optimism.
This isn’t some blind youthful wish. It’s a conscious, risky decision after you’ve considered the devastation that sours so many minds. It’s a radical stance - one where you claim “Yes, even though there’s evil, I will still see it through that world keeps spinning and things get better.”
Turns out there can be a lot of overlap between building design and building a life. John Ruskin (unknowingly perhaps) tells us how to live life better.
It's never too late to stumble upon an underlying principle of reality. (Especially one that can be put to use immediately)