I’m a sucker for self-improvement articles and books. Medium is full of life coaches and “teachers” telling you how to live your life to its maximum potential. Most of the time, I read and dismiss. In fact, the last self-improvement book I think that made an ounce of difference for me mentally was Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life.
His latest, Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope is along the same lines, but different. I haven’t finished it yet. I’ve been listening to the audiobook and while I love that Manson is reading his own stuff, it’s not really connecting with me.
Pretty sure the reason is I’m not a hopeful person. I’m a person who puts on a happy face most of the time. My attitude is, sincerely, not a good quality. “Most people are good” is not a philosophy I adhere to, but it is one my wife feels strongly about. I think most people confuse realism, pessimism, and cynicism and I certainly waffle around on the subjects.
Cynicism, realism, pessimism are all sides of the same coin. Maybe I’m just a disappointed idealist? Maybe I’m simply disillusioned with the way the world works? I’ve been hurt many times by people I’ve trusted and so I tend to be wary of people’s motivations. My hope many times is that I’m proven wrong.
My wife is pragmatic. She sees all the angles, covers for every eventuality, and has a plan of attack. I’m not like that at all. My mind isn’t wired in the same way. Her approach is much better.
For me, it’s hard to be hopeful when I look all around and see despair and tragedy.
However, recognizing this negative quality about myself is important. If, at the very least, I try and suppress it and at the most try to remove it from my mindset.
We Can Be Heroes
I grew up in a house full of comic books. My Dad was an avid collector. It’s funny how many of my comic book heroes growing up were all about hope.
In the dreadful Man of Steel movie, the writer explains away Superman’s S shield as the Kryptonian symbol of hope. Along with Spider-Man and Batman, Superman has been a large part of my life. All three of those comic book super heroes are about hope in the face of tragedy.
I should remind myself about that important aspect on a regular basis.
My favorite band is KISS. For all their flash and glam, their music has always been about having a good time, being positive, and striving to be better. Life is a joy. It isn’t sad or depressing. I never feel hopeless after listening to KISS or watching them perform.
This mental state of mine about hopelessness needs to change. It is a poor mindstate. I should take a cue from my heroes and be more hopeful.
The ability to recognize my shortcomings is a blessing and a curse. It’s hard for me to see if I’m doing a good job or just coasting by. I have doubts all the time that I’m not good enough and it was all a big mistake and thank you for coming, but we will be looking in a different direction. Buh bye.
Fear and anxiety are at the forefront of my thinking all the time. I do not always have a massive amount of confidence. They are tied directly to my feelings of hopelessness too.
What I’ve learned over the years is to embrace the doubts, acknowledge they exist in my head, and use the feeling to be strategic and move forward. Many times I’ve been too confident and crashed and burned. Consequently, I hate being not ready.
Sometimes I need a pep talk. I’m married to the best person in the world and when I’m feeling hopeless and doubting my abilities, she is right there with the right words to motivate me and get me going. I appreciate her everyday.
Doubts and hopelessness go hand in hand. I used to think both were more “real.” If I was anxious, I would hide it behind pessimism and cynicism. Ultimately, that hasn’t really turned out well for me.
So, today and moving forward I’m going to be more hopeful and, in turn, less fearful. I will always have my internal struggles and doubts, but it’s time to change my mindset.
Will you join me?