The Lean

I don’t think false, unjustified optimism is productive, but I do have a bias toward reframing bad situations to focus on the (at times meager) silver-linings that will almost aways be there, if you look.

This isn’t typically a pleasant or easy recalibration, as there’s an innate desire (for many of us at least, myself included) to wallow in the bad, to sink deeper and deeper, and to just accept—uncritically—the overt horribleness of a bad situation, allowing it to overwhelm our psychological systems and short-out our capacity for reason or forethought, which in turn refocuses our perceptual lenses on the least-favorable interpretations and predictions and impacts.

The main benefit of a trained bias away from knee-jerk (if usually understandable) pessimism toward gratitude, I would argue, is that it provides motive power at the moment in which we most need fuel to help us escape the gravity well of despondency.

The inclination to keep planting seeds and tend to one’s garden even when every ounce of one’s being is shouting that there’s no point, why bother, isn’t latent for most of us, but it’s a tendency that can be intentionally adopted and honed.

Leaning toward the assumption that things can and will get better often yields preferable outcomes (compared to the alternative) because we tend to reflexively, if not necessarily enthusiastically or happily, stack the deck for favorable future circumstances when it seems like there’s reason to do so—even if that deck-stacking feels like a slog through endless horribleness, in the interim.

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