Optimism: The Best Tool for Your Mental Health

Do you know why healing crystals, dried mangos, and positive thinking never made a pivotal change in your life? Because they rely on the wrong type of optimism. Let me explain.

Contrary to what some think, Mental Health is not something you fix with “a little more effort” and some wishy-washy magical potion. It’s a life-long issue, and you should treat it as such.

— Oh, is this the kind of article that gets angry and dark?

No, not at all. It’s all about optimism, the right kind.

There are two types of optimism: Optimism and Blind Optimism.

Blind Optimism is the tendency to focus on the positive aspects of a plan while being “blind” to potential problems. It’s like planning a Christmas trip expecting empty airports with zero stress; or worse, thinking you’ll be OK to take time off the meds because you’re stable now. Both are bad ideas not because of the unrealistic expectations, but because they are built on a bad philosophy of how things work.

Optimism is different.

Physicist David Deutsch says the Principle of Optimism is that “all evils are caused by insufficient knowledge”, and “Optimism is, in the first instance, a way of explaining failure, not prophesying success.” “Problems”, he says, “are soluble.”

Can you grasp how far-reaching this is?

How many sleepless nights did you have? How long did you dwell on the riddles of anxiety and depression? Have you solved any of those things with a little bit of magic? No, you didn’t. You rolled up your sleeves, discovered what happened, learned about it, and made an effort to build a better plan to go on with your life. Like you should.

Sure, sometimes problems appear out of nowhere. That’s life. But by being an Optimist, bad ideas won’t fool you. “Problems are soluble” and optimism is “a way of explaining failure, not prophesying success.”

As it relates to your Mental Health, Dr. Drew Pinsky likes to say that “true mental health is accepting reality on reality's terms.” So say goodbye to Blind Optimism and embrace Optimism instead. It’s the best tool you have.

I hope you find it useful and talk to you soon, Lucas Napier.

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