Skip to comments.For a happier life, shake off your misplaced optimism
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 ...
Any uptopian idealism inevitably leads to this.
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.
So we should replace these with the three great liberal horsemen; namely misery, hate and indolence? Count me out.
Thank you for posting that.
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.
The world is nuts. Sometimes the best thing to do is laugh uncontrollably.
LOL, LOL !
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.
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.
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?
Christianity is a source of pessimism? It is the opposite. We were dead and now alive. We were slave and now free.
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
Bump for later.
That is usually the shortest cut to living Hell.
I nominate that for "Post Of The Day"!
“Happiness is good health and a poor memory.”
Thanks for the ping.
Had me cackling.
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