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Staying Optimistic While Being Realistic

Learning to be positive without being false. 

One of the most challenging tasks in life is to look at ourselves and the world truthfully while remaining optimistic. 

We don’t have to look very far to find trouble in the world and within ourselves. 

Some people try to shield themselves from all negative news, thoughts, and people. Others tend to dwell on the negative aspects of life. Neither of these extremes teaches us how to cope with life in a balanced way. 

If we are in a helping profession or are a counselor-type of person, we will find ourselves dealing with troubled people and realities often. Just dealing with the realities of day-to-day life with family, friends, and community asks us to look at the problems of life. 

So how do we look truthfully at the problems of life while staying optimistic? 

We can see what happens to people when they aren’t able to figure this question out, they often become:

  • addicted to substances and bad habits
  • negative and mean people everyone avoids
  • mentally ill and neurotic 
  • angry, resentful, and bitter
  • suicidal and destructive
  • prone to a criminal and victim mentality

Without finding the silver lining, people become unbalanced and these types of symptoms begin occurring. 

There are others who are sheltered from the problems of life by being wealthy and self-centered. These types of people become detached from reality by creating a fantasy world. If their wealth collapsed, they would find themselves unable to cope with the reality of life, and since their optimism isn’t tempered with reality, it is false and insincere.

As a person who likes to counsel and encourage people, the ability to level with people about life’s problems is vital. I have to validate the real issues people are facing while not allowing them to use it as an excuse for thinking and behaving from negative perspectives.

Negative perspectives are what formulate from the inability to be sincerely optimistic when facing the troubles of life. 

Sincere optimism involves gratitude. 

Being grateful for what we have is difficult when our perspective includes a belief that we are lacking what we need. 

Essentially, when we are down and out, the temptation of being ungrateful and fomenting a negative perspective is very real. Finding sincere optimism in these moments is when the rubber meets the road. 

Most people will come to this crossroad in their lives when dealing with things like:

  • disappointment
  •  death
  •  betrayal
  •  loss
  •  poverty
  •  homelessness
  •  divorce
  •  being a victim of crime

Some people come to the crossroad early in life while others later; some people may never come to it until they are dying themselves. 

Many criminals are made by taking the wrong road when they come to this proverbial crossroad. Some people simply become negative and give over to their vices — they become resentful and bitter people. 

So how can we be sincerely optimistic while being realistic?

As someone who has a mind prone to negativity and being critical, I know how hard finding an optimistic perspective on life can be. As someone who loves and seeks the truth, I’ve always been willing to look at the worst parts of human nature.

When I was a secular humanist who fancied himself a transcendental existentialist, finding the answer to this question was impossible beyond self-grandiose thoughts of success. While this gave me something to attain and work toward, it failed to give me true optimism in the face of a truthful reality full of trouble and suffering. 

Ultimately, what helped me was finding faith in the Holy Bible as the absolute source of truth. This answer may not be what people want to hear, yet it is the only answer I have to give. 

Jesus Christ is the Word of God. To believe in the Holy Bible in its inspired form (KJV, Majority Text) is to believe in Jesus Christ. 

When I was trying to find optimism in this fallen world while looking at it truthfully, I failed. It took a Biblical perspective to help me find optimism in a fallen world. 

This Biblical perspective helped me understand why the world is so troubled, and why people are so troubled. Then, it gave me a way to be forgiven, redeemed, and ultimately to find hope in eternal life in heaven with a loving God. 

When people are trying to find their perfect life in this world, they will only find disappointment because there will always be something wrong here, something we can’t fix. We are living in a fallen world cursed by sin and death. 

The optimism comes from knowing a loving God is with us until the end of this world and that we have eternal life with Him after our temporary journey here is over. 

Jesus Christ is proof of God’s love for us. God was manifest in the flesh and then died on the cross for our sins, so we can be reconciled back to God our Creator. Jesus then rose from the dead after three days, defeating death and making a way for us to defeat death through Him. 

The sacrifice Jesus made shows us the love of God. 

When we see a cop or soldier give their lives for another person we recognize the selfless love and sacrifice they gave. It is the ultimate love to give your life to save another person. 

I’ve always said if someone loves and seeks the truth, they will find it in Jesus Christ. Whether that person is an atheist or a Muslim, they will find it in the end. 

On the other hand, if someone doesn’t love and seek the truth, they won’t find it, whether they are a so-called Christian or not. 

There are many nominal Christians who don’t love the truth and who don’t have optimism when being realistic. Their optimism is false and comes from ambition and self-seeking excitement, rather than sincere optimism despite facing the truth of this world.

The depth of depravity in humans is pure evil. Most people don’t have the heart to recognize or face it. Doing so would shatter their false optimism and superficial faith in humanity.

Fallen humanity doesn’t have the answers to the troubles we face, and being truthful enough to admit that is beyond the ability of secular humanists to do unless they are willing to become hopeless pessimists. 

The truth lover and seeker will find themselves in a very dark place when looking into the depravity of humanity; their ability to be optimistic while being realistic will go beyond the superficial wisdom the world offers.

For the truth seeker and lover, it takes the love of God in Jesus Christ to be sincerely optimistic in this world, because the reality is more dark and negative than we can handle with worldly wisdom and relative truths. 


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