The headlines in the mainstream media, and even some posts on this blog, wax anxiously about inflation, unemployment, and financial crises. No matter which way we look sometimes, it seems there are dark clouds on every horizon.
Nevertheless, I feel it’s essential to emphasize the importance of optimism. We must, in order to be psychologically healthy, have a predominantly positive outlook on life. We should feel generally good about our personal endeavors and the long term future of the planet. Otherwise, it’s difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and it’s difficult to experience life with any joy or meaning.
Optimism is a key element in the Old Money life. The knee-jerk reaction to this statement is predictable: “It’s easy for people born with money to be optimistic; they don’t have to worry about paying the bills.” This may be true, but life has its own set of challenges for all of us, regardless of our financial situation. What’s more, being optimistic about the future and generally happy in the present is a choice that becomes a habit. Practiced with awareness long enough, regardless of one’s circumstances, it tends to improve the quality of one’s life in a myriad of ways.
Voltaire, no slacker in the Thinking About Life department, said, “I have decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” So even as a mechanism for self-preservation, we should choose to look on the bright side of things.
Old Money Guys and Gals learn optimism from their parents and their teachers. They’re encouraged to be active and apply themselves at school. They learn early to work in order to accomplish goals and experience rewards. This leads to setting their own goals, believing they can realize them (a good definition of optimism), and getting to work.
It’s important to remember that optimism and its sibling happiness are not found in being successful 100% of the time. It’s the focus and purpose we find in working toward a meaningful goal that brings us happiness, and the growth we experience on the journey that creates optimism for the future. “If I accomplished this,” we say to ourselves after a measure of success, “I may be able to accomplish that.” And we look forward with hope, calculating what next mountain we want to climb.
We simply have to set for ourselves constructive, tangible, doable goals that have action plans and deadlines attached to them. Then we get busy. We try, we progress, we fail, we learn, we persist. We test our inner resources and the limits of the world around us. We often start small, and move on to bigger things.
As I said, Old Money often learns this secret to optimism and happiness early. What’s important is that we all learn it at some point, and put it into regular practice.
Our lives will be richer for it.