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For a happier life, shake off your misplaced optimism
FT ^ | 04/30/09 | Alain de Botton

Posted on 05/02/2009 5:03:38 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster

For a happier life, shake off your misplaced optimism

By Alain de Botton

Published: April 30 2009 19:11 | Last updated: April 30 2009 19:11

It has been clear for a while, at least since the first talk started about “green shoots” of recovery, that what we have to fear above all is hope. Attempts to trust that the worst is over and to stop frightening ourselves seem doomed to project us into yet worse disappointment. We are not only unhappy but – believing calm and happiness to be the norm – unhappy that we are unhappy.

It is time to recognise how odd and counter-productive is the optimism on which we have grown up. For the last 200 years, despite occasional shocks, the western world has been dominated by a belief in progress, based on its extraordinary scientific and entrepreneurial achievements. On a broader perspective, this optimism is a grave anomaly. Humans have spent most of recorded history drawing a curious comfort from expecting the worst. In the west, lessons in pessimism have derived from two sources: Roman Stoic philosophy and Christianity. It may be time to revisit some of these teachings, not to add to our misery but precisely so as to alleviate our sorrow.

(Excerpt) Read more at ft.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: control; destiny; optimism; pessimism
Mindless optimism would set people up for catastrophic hit from the blind side.

Any uptopian idealism inevitably leads to this.

1 posted on 05/02/2009 5:03:38 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
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To: TigerLikesRooster; PAR35; AndyJackson; Thane_Banquo; nicksaunt; MadLibDisease; happygrl; ...
Ping!
2 posted on 05/02/2009 5:04:41 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster (LUV DIC -- L,U,V-shaped recession, Depression, Inflation, Collapse)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

My father dropped bombs on socialists in Germany back in the 1940s. It made Americans feel optimistic. We could do that again. This time we don’t need to travel so far.


3 posted on 05/02/2009 5:18:49 AM PDT by sergeantdave (obuma is the anti-Lincoln, trying to re-establish slavery)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

4 posted on 05/02/2009 5:19:15 AM PDT by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: TigerLikesRooster
"The modern bourgeois philosophy pins its hopes firmly on two great presumed ingredients of happiness, love and work."

So we should replace these with the three great liberal horsemen; namely misery, hate and indolence? Count me out.

5 posted on 05/02/2009 5:20:19 AM PDT by Jagman
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To: TigerLikesRooster
That was great. Bookmarked.

Thank you for posting that.

6 posted on 05/02/2009 5:29:33 AM PDT by freedomson (Tagline comment removed by moderator)
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To: Jagman
Count me out.

Me, too. I'll be chirpy if I want to, and I refuse to be held responsible for Alain de Botton's being a grouch.

7 posted on 05/02/2009 5:31:25 AM PDT by Tax-chick (Stay out of Mexico. Wash your hands. Keep your pigs outdoors.)
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To: TigerLikesRooster; M. Espinola; Calpernia; All
My only comment is to laugh and watch this great video:

Bodhisattva in the Metro !

The world is nuts. Sometimes the best thing to do is laugh uncontrollably.

LOL, LOL !

8 posted on 05/02/2009 5:34:05 AM PDT by ex-Texan (Ecclesiastes 5:10 - 20)
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To: TigerLikesRooster
Because we are hurt most by what we do not expect, and because we must expect everything (“There is nothing which Fortune does not dare”), we must, argued Seneca, hold the possibility of the most obscene events in mind at all times.

I tell people this, that I'm prepared for the worst, including owning high capacity semi-auto guns and ammo, and they think I'm nut. I, of course, know that they're nuts for not thinking the way I do. Anybody who's every picked up a history book or even a novel knows how your world can change on a dime ("Gone with the Wind", anyone?)

We must, stressed Seneca, expand our sense of what may go wrong in our lives: “Nothing ought to be unexpected by us. Our minds should be sent forward in advance to meet all the problems, and we should consider, not what is wont to happen, but what can happen.”

I have a saying about Murphy's law - "Murphy has a personal grudge against me. Anything that can go wrong, and some things that cannot go wrong, always do, and always for me".

Christianity only backed up the Stoic message. It pointed out that while humans might strive for perfection, it is a problem – indeed a sin – to suppose that such perfection can ever occur on earth. Nothing human can ever be free of blemishes. There cannot be an end to boom and bust, mayhem and death.

Liberals, as you note, don't believe this. They believe that you can have heaven on earth, and it's one of the reasons they hate Christians.

9 posted on 05/02/2009 5:34:15 AM PDT by Hardastarboard (I long for the days when advertisers didn't constantly ask about the health of my genital organs.)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Is mindless pessimism any better, or more realistic, than mindless optimism?

We are truly blessed in this country. The problem lies in believing that we are owed blessings, rather than needing to constantly earn and reinvent them.


10 posted on 05/02/2009 5:36:15 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets (You talkin' to me?)
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To: TigerLikesRooster
He makes some good points. As I read this, I thought of "mindless optimism" screeds such as "The Secret". Now I have not read this book but I was thinking about getting it and decided against it after reading alot of reviews about it. One reviewer made a point that sealed it for me. Basically he said that if this "secret" was so effective, then apparently every single one of the European Jews in the 30's and 40's must have made a concerted effort to harbor negative and pessimistic thoughts. In other words, they brought the Holocaust upon themselves because they didn't live lives of blind optimism.

I can see this mindless optimism in the self-esteem movement. And I think it's had a destructive effect especially on our young people. They are led to believe that self-esteem is to be bestowed upon them by others and all will be well in the world. Then the inevitable tragic event happens and they don't know how to handle it because they really hadn't earned their own self-esteem; they only had it attached to their skin. Is this a big causal factor in high teenage suicide rates and self-destructive behavior?

11 posted on 05/02/2009 5:42:49 AM PDT by 3catsanadog (I plan to give the new President the same respect and dignity the other side gave Bush.)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Christianity is a source of pessimism? It is the opposite. We were dead and now alive. We were slave and now free.


12 posted on 05/02/2009 5:44:42 AM PDT by Raycpa
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To: TigerLikesRooster

“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.”

– John Stuart Mill


13 posted on 05/02/2009 5:52:18 AM PDT by Rockingham
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Bump for later.


14 posted on 05/02/2009 5:56:38 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (Save The Earth. It's The Only Planet With Chocolate.)
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To: Raycpa
Christianity does not deny the burden of life. Many people these days believe that they can get rid of it and they should. Not in spiritual(religious) domain but in real life.

That is usually the shortest cut to living Hell.

15 posted on 05/02/2009 6:13:15 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster (LUV DIC -- L,U,V-shaped recession, Depression, Inflation, Collapse)
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To: sergeantdave
My father dropped bombs on socialists in Germany back in the 1940s. It made Americans feel optimistic. We could do that again. This time we don’t need to travel so far.

I nominate that for "Post Of The Day"!

16 posted on 05/02/2009 7:43:14 AM PDT by Gritty (Obama is a radical communist and is going to destroy this country-Alan Keyes)
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To: Rockingham

“Happiness is good health and a poor memory.”


17 posted on 05/02/2009 8:08:28 AM PDT by expatpat
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Thanks for the ping.


18 posted on 05/02/2009 8:43:25 AM PDT by GOPJ (We sleep safe..because rough men stand ready..to visit violence on those who would do us harm-Orwell)
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To: ex-Texan

Had me cackling.


19 posted on 05/02/2009 8:44:13 AM PDT by Stentor (The Criminal Obama Administration.)
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To: TigerLikesRooster
The problem isn't that one hopes for the best, but that one expects things to get better no matter what.

My father is very hopeful in all things, but carries a .40 S&W and keeps food at home because 60+ years as a farmer have taught that reality is pretty mean.
20 posted on 05/02/2009 9:06:18 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: TigerLikesRooster
Here's a pretty good prayer song that I think addresses this question.
21 posted on 05/02/2009 12:30:44 PM PDT by ckilmer (Phi)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Always be a pessimist, that way, you’re never disappointed.


22 posted on 05/02/2009 12:32:18 PM PDT by dfwgator (1996 2006 2008 - Good Things Come in Threes)
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To: redgolum
One’s hope gains credibility only when he has fully prepared for the worst.
23 posted on 05/02/2009 8:31:30 PM PDT by TigerLikesRooster (LUV DIC -- L,U,V-shaped recession, Depression, Inflation, Collapse)
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