It has become abundantly clear to me recently of the importance of where and how we choose to focus our energy. Until now, I have been aware of this to some extent. We have all been told at some point to "keep on the sunny side," "find the silver lining" "glass half full" etc., but do we really understand the full importance of this idea? These philosophies can quickly become overwhelming and seemingly impossible when we are left to our own devices, our own self discipline and will power. Time and time again, we are faced with reminders of how difficult this is, the bad state of the world in general, how other people make optimism so hard to uphold, even how we are so incapable as individuals to stay strong in the face of adversity. It becomes even more difficult when you become aware of the sometimes subtle stigma that is placed on those who choose to live life this way. We are all familiar with the person who staunchly refuses to acknowledge the negativity of the world in such a way that they appear utterly naive, stupid even. Those people we long to take by the shoulders and shake, "Wake up! Things are not all sunshine and roses! Our world sucks, people sucks, we kill, steal, hate, lie...can't you see this?"
I have avoided optimism for so long in order to avoid appearing ignorant. The truth is I am beginning to realize that ignorance and optimism do not have to go hand in hand. Why? Because underlying our choice to ignore negativity is the understanding that in choosing to focus energy on anything, even in opposition, we are enabling it to exist. When I choose to focus on all these things that are just waiting to become my problems, even if it is to fight against them, I acknowledge that they are real. So what I do is focus all my energy on whatever issue is plaguing me at the moment, and then analyze and study the hell out of it. I'll read, observe other people and take notes, come to all kinds of conclusions based on cause and effect, think, talk, ponder...and finally reach some conclusion that allows a moment of peace until the next issue rears its head.
This brings to me an analogy that has been helping me immensely. Let's say you are preparing to embark on a fantastic amazing adventurous vacation. Being an intellectual, you decide to sit and plan for this vacation. You decide that until you can truly enjoy this adventure you must predict and solve all upcoming obstacles. You must make sure you have everything you could ever need. You must not leave until you feel 100% prepared, but this never happens. There is always some problem to address. Then, suddenly, you decide to pull back the heavy curtain and peek out of the window. With a jolt you realize, you are already on your vacation!!! It is happening right now!!! You are here, right now! It's live, it's real. What will you do with this new information? Will you, as I have been, recede back, saying "No, not now, not ready, must plan more, prepare more, not now?" Or are you able to throw it all behind you and rush out to experience the vacation of your life?
Yes, I'm afraid I may have just tossed yet another "carpe diem" in your direction, but what I really want to accentuate is that there is more to understand about this philosophy than blind servitude to optimism. Instead, you can acknowledge that perhaps this habit of hemming and hawing over all these supposed problems can actually hold you back. This process allows you to reach some conclusion, true, but it also forces you to put your life on hold as it were. It slows you down. Your internal struggles take on a life of their own, in which you come to one conclusion that brings up another issue that requires further attention...and on and on. So what is our alternative? Say, just say, that instead you could confidently and strongly decide "This shall not be a problem for me!" Then, just like that, you refuse to allow the issue any more attention. Is it possible that this can eliminate so many many steps to happiness? If you consistently did this, can you imagine the amount of energy you could put towards those things that make you feel alive? Creative? Inspired? Could this possibly be the meaning behind the "turn the other cheek" mentality that was consistently preached to me as a child but was something I could never quite wrap my mind around?
This really starts to address something else I've been noticing, which is how much energy mankind uses on solutions that never reach the core of the problem. So many of our current issues are direct results of how we chose to expend energy on past "problems." Ultimately, we believed that something was a huge drama that demanded our attention, often under the guise of defending ourselves or what is "right". We submit ourselves to the problem by putting up our fists. Then comes the long series of conflicts, huge expenditures of energy, time, resources. We generally reach a point where things get so out of control that we simply cannot continue. It becomes obvious how far we have strayed. Then slowly, we start picking up little pieces, one at a time, still obsessed with what happened, how it was unfair, how guilty we feel, who was to blame... But, BUT, can you see how at any point in this process you can simply put down your foot and proclaim, This is not a problem for me!?! And when you turn around and focus your energy on something alive and positive, you come face to face with ideas, inspiration, true connections with people, essentially: real true creativity that can forge past the limited perspectives of the past and into the better beyond. How alive! How exciting! How wonderful!
I am so very aware of how trained we all are to hold intellectualism and analysis to such high levels. I also want to propose that perhaps analysis is a necessary step in this process, that you must experience it in order to reach new and higher conclusions. But I, for one, am tired of my wasted time, wasted energy. I know what I feel like when I'm living. I would like to think that everyone has experienced this at least once. Tap into that, and if anything that makes you feel less, put your foot down and decide, This is not a problem. It can be difficult, especially since we are told every day, minute, second, that we should have these problems. That these issues are huge dramas that need all your attention. Truthfully, our problems are not huge dramas. Think about it. You can detach yourself, consciously, from anything that makes you feel less than thrilled to be alive. It's true that the situation may not instantly disappear, but you will eliminate this desperate attachment we have to our dramas and the need to defend ourselves. You can perceive life from a place of positivity, inspiration and creativity. Solutions will become clear and you will move ahead at a surprising velocity. I think I'm going to give it a shot.