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Optimism doesn’t begin with faith, belief, or trust

You can’t discover new possibilities until you look for them.

You won’t look for new possibilities unless you’re open to the idea that they actually exist.

You can’t be open to the idea that new possibilities actually exist, until you recognize that you don’t know most of what there is to know.

The presumption that one has seen it all precludes the act of searching for what one has not yet seen.

Optimism doesn’t begin with faith, belief, or trust. It begins with an affirmation of uncertainty.

The optimistic attitude is born out of one’s ability to imagine that there are sounds one has never heard, colors one has never seen, ideas one has never contemplated, lessons one has never been taught, and paths upon which one’s feet have never tread.

The pessimist has trouble with such notions because he thinks he knows. He is too sure of himself to entertain “wild fantasies” about unexplored worlds. The pessimist believes that if there really were unknown possibilities, they must surely be negative or, if positive, too insignificant to be worth considering.

So, he accepts his judgments as irrefutable facts and dismisses skeptical inquiry as a useless philosophical exercise.

The optimist, however, is one who is capable of unconvincing himself of what he thinks he knows.

He repeatedly asks himself, “how do I know that?”

And whenever he is unable to provide a reasonable defense of his pessimistic premises, he returns to his native state of unknowing.

And when one does not know, one is open.

And when one is open, there is little need for faith and “positive thinking.”

For hopelessness and despair simply cannot survive in a mind that refuses to be too sure of itself.

At least that’s the way I see it (but one can never be too sure).


T.K. Coleman


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  1. This is such a fantastic piece. I really enjoy your succint, concise perspective. Thank you!

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