I have always been an optimist. It’s in my genetic makeup.
It’s a skill that has gotten me through a lot of crap and one that I depend on. I preach about having a positive attitude and finding the good in things. Perhaps to the annoyance of some of my friends and family.
I never saw it as a problem, until recently. There are two sides to everything. A light and a dark side. There are situations where a positive attitude is good and situations where it can be detrimental. That’s with everything.
As an example let’s look at exercise. 90% of exercise is beneficial. There are very few downsides to exercise, that is until there’s an injury. When there’s a injury too much exercise can prevent it from healing. That’s not good.
My optimism is exactly the same.
I get so caught up in the positive that I can’t see the reality of the situation. The positive blinders block me from evaluating a situation properly and taking the best steps to move forward.
I would rather give the benefit of the doubt than see the reality of the situation.
This positive outlook might seem beneficial and a great way to approach things, for the most part it is. It is better than it’s alternative extreme, letting fear lead my decision making.
My positive outlook is driven by my emotions not my logic. When I allow my emotions to drive my actions I get sporadic and irrational.
There is nothing wrong with emotions. Emotions inform me about how I’m feeling and how the situation is affecting me. There’s value in understanding that. I want to be emotions informed, not emotions driven.
But, emotions can take over. It’s easy for me to get one-sided and not see anything else that’s contributing, I can’t see the situation as a whole. Which means I lose a sense of reality. Which means my decision making skills become worthless.
A few months ago I started watching The Layover [link] on Netflix. I’ve never been an Anthony Bourdain fan. I never really like his approach to things. I didn’t really understand it.
The Layover was different for me. It feels agenda-less, and very personal. Very real. From that show I started reading about Anthony Bourdain, following him on social media, and even bought the book that launched his media career (Kitchen Confidential).
Now I like the guy.
He’s negative (I used to think to a fault), but now I get that it’s his reality. It is reality. He wants to take all the glitz and glamour out of things and experience things how they really are.
This perspective is a breath of fresh air in an increasingly edited world.
In Kitchen Confidential Bourdain speaks candidly of kitchen life, in a way that is interesting and made me glad that I never went to culinary school. It is a crazy business.
The benefit to see life in this reality is that there is no bull shit. What you see is what you get, the good the bad and the ugly. I have spent most of my life avoiding the bad and ugly, pushing them aside with good. But doing that has left me one-sided and unbalanced.
Like Inside Out. Joy takes over everything because it’s better to be happy than anything else. But it isn’t until Sadness gets embraced and valued that things turn around.
It has been my uncomfortable discovery that it is in my vulnerability that I feel growth and progression, that I feel most whole. It is when my wife and I get into heated discussions that we get closer. I will try and continue to give the benefit of the doubt, but I will give everything the benefit of the doubt including my discomfort, my pain, and my sadness.
When has an uncomfortable situation turned out to be beneficial?