The enemy of pessimism is not optimism, but skepticism.
Few things undermine negative conclusions as quickly and powerfully as a little critical thinking.
“How do you know?” is such a simple question and, yet, it does an astounding job at exposing the presumptuous underpinnings of most forms of pessimism.
For example, suppose you’re convinced that life wont get better for you.
Question: Okay, how do you know?
Pessimistic Outlook: Because it’s been bad for so long.
Question: How do you know tomorrow wont be the day when everything turns around?
Pessimistic Outlook: Because I’ve believed similar things before and I was wrong.
Question: But, how do you know that the future will behave like the past? Really, how do you know what tomorrow is actually going to be like without making bold and unjustifiable assumptions?
See how that works? It’s extremely difficult to be a pessimist when you’re not so quick to place unquestioned faith in every little worrisome or discouraging thought.
The power of negative thinking lies in our all too common tendency to give it a free pass from scrutiny.
Pessimism seems very convincing until you start demanding proof. Once you introduce the concept of “evidence” into the discussion, the pessimistic voice starts to get choked up.
The best part is that you don’t need a bunch of positive beliefs in order to do this. All you need is the simple ability to ask yourself, “how do you know?” coupled with the willingness to admit that you don’t know whatever it is that you don’t know.
Your only task is to sit back like a cool headed defense attorney and cast auras of doubt at the voices of resistance that seek to hold you back.
Give it a try.
My idea may be completely wrong. It may be a total waste of time.
But, remember, let’s be skeptical:
How do you know unless you try?