With our body of work entitled, Crush Pessimism, our mission is to reduce
the amount of unnecessary negative emotion people endure. In
learning to use the undemoralizing
methods, I have realized that much of the worrying I used
to do, and much of the demoralization I felt after setbacks,
and much of the frustration I felt because my aspirations kept
petering out, all of this was unnecessary negative emotion.
The bad feelings were a response to my thought-mistakes rather than a response to
the real world.
I'm not the only one. So I'm going to do
something about it. If you're reading this, you probably want
to do something about it too. Can we make any difference? Can
we make even one person more positive? A positive thinker would
jump up and say, "Of course! We can change the world!"
But that's just a kind of pumped-up certainty about something
they're not really certain about. It's trying to make it so by
saying it's so. It's phony.
Crushing pessimism is different than positive
thinking. To successfully clear your head (or anyone else's)
of pessimism (and ultimately make them more positive), you have
to be dealing with the facts. What do we know for sure? The world
is more negative and pessimistic than it needs to be. That's
for sure. And we are motivated to change it.
That's all we need. We don't need false
certainty. We don't need "belief." The truth is, we
don't really know for sure if the world can become a less pessimistic
place. But we can go in that direction anyway, and give it our
This is a great task in my opinion, and
if you're reading this, you probably think so too. It might be
difficult, and it might even be impossible. But it is a fight
worth fighting. This is like all the best stories that have ever
sent a tingle up your spine and brought tears to your eyes: We
will pit our skills against the forces of darkness. Will we win?
It depends on how well we do. It is not a certainty. If we knew
we would win for sure, it wouldn't be a challenge, so it wouldn't
be as fun. The fact that we can fail allows it to be engaging,
challenging, and ... FUN!
As George Bernard Shaw said, "This
is the true joy in life: Being used by a purpose recognized by
yourself as a mighty one." Read the whole quote here.
So choose yourself a task. Give yourself
a mission. What are you going to do today to help crush pessimism?
Do one thing. If it doesn't work out the way you expected, and
that makes you feel demoralized or lose motivation about this
yourself and carry on. Learn from your failures. They are
sometimes more instructive than the successes.
If you've ever watched movies of heroic
battles, and wished you lived in such challenging times or had
such a mighty purpose, wish no more. Crushing pessimism is a
challenge worthy of your highest potential.
Turning Others Into Optimists
Norman Vincent Peale (who wrote The Power of Positive Thinking) and W. Clement
Stone (who co-authored Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude)
and his co-author, Napoleon Hill these three men were
some of the earliest pioneers of positive thinking. They made
it popular, and the revolutionary ideas they taught have now
entered mainstream culture. What many of us know about "having
a positive attitude" and even how we define "positive
attitudes" largely came from these bestselling authors.
Even if you've never read any of their
books, they have influenced every generation of positive thinking
authors for seventy years. And one of their principles might
be called "acting your way into feeling." In other
words, if you act confident, it often makes you feel confident.
If you act happy, it can sometimes help you feel happy.
This is such a simple and direct method,
and so easy to do under any circumstance, that many of us, including
me, have used it far too much, and if you have tried it, you
know it can devolve into putting on a smiling face to show others
you've got a positive attitude. And that doesn't feel good at
Peale and Stone had a point that you can
"fake it till you make it." If you do it correctly,
and do it for the right reasons, your body posture, the look
on your face, etc., can make you feel much better. You can read
more about that here.
But when you're trying to change your attitude,
the really important question is: What mood or attitude are you
aiming for? For Peale and Stone, cheerfulness was the
number one attitude to try for. But I disagree. My two favorites
are determination and warmth (I don't have a good word for this,
but it's a kind of open, affectionate feeling of kindness toward
But whatever favorite attitude you choose,
you know for a fact that deceiving others by pretending to feel
something you don't actually feel doesn't feel good, and
people can somehow see through it anyway. Faking a good attitude
will simply make you feel phony.
If you would like to make someone more
positive, or improve the general positivity of the world at large,
you're going to start by influencing the people you know. And
most of your power to influence others to be more positive will
come from people wanting to know what you know because they like
your attitude and admire the way you deal with situations and
interact with people. They'll want your attitude. For this to
happen, your attitude has to be genuine. Pretending to be positive
takes effort and isn't any fun, and nobody wants to emulate it.
To interest others in becoming more optimistic,
it really helps if you have a genuinely positive attitude, which
may be peaceful, earnest, open and affectionate, or any number
of positive emotions besides smiley and cheerful.
If you aren't feeling that great and want
to feel better, do something that will make you genuinely and
authentically feel better. You have lots of options. Undemoralizing yourself is the most important,
but we have many good methods to use.
A couple of resources that will help are
Improve Your Attitude
and Raise Your Mood and MoodRaiser.com. In your efforts to convert
others into more positive people, you don't ever have to fake
cheerfulness. If you know what you're doing, you won't need to
put it on from the outside. It will shine through from the inside.