In virtually any discussion on optimism and the pursuit of happiness, SOMEONE is almost guaranteed to utter some variation of the following:
“Optimism is good, but it’s also important to be honest and not delude ourselves about the real stuff that’s going on in the world.”
Usually, when these sorts of statements are made, the word “honest” means “negative” and the term “real stuff” means “bad stuff.”
I get it.
It’s a wise sentiment. It makes a great deal of sense. It needs to be said.
Here’s something else that needs to be said if we’re going to have an honest discussion about being honest:
Lying to one’s self is STILL an unhealthy practice EVEN when those lies consists of socially acceptable rants about how powerless we all are. To deny one’s ability to influence his own state of mind is NO LESS ABSURD than to deny the fact that there are challenges in the world.
It’s delusional to lie to yourself about feeling good when you really feel like crap.
But it’s also delusional to lie to yourself about being unable to create positive changes.
The truth is truth even when it’s not negative. The truth is truth even when it sounds cheesy. The truth is truth even when it makes you laugh. The truth is truth even when it takes your attention away from a problem.
The notion that one must either be unhappy or delusional is a false dilemma.
Lying to yourself is what happens when you deliberately misrepresent the truth.
Happiness is what happens when you tell yourself the truth in an empowering way.
Being happy does NOT require you to ignore your hardships. It simply invites you to look beyond them.
Optimism isn’t about denial. It’s about determination; the determination to decide our own internal state independently of external conditions; the determination to live even in the face of pending doom and inevitable death.
So, YES, Tell yourself the truth EVEN IF it makes you happy!