Be a pessimist about your problems.
Problems will always exist and they will always kick our asses in ways we couldn’t imagine or prepare for. There’s no way to stop this. Whenever we eliminate one problem, another one will always rise to take it’s place. Be a pessimist about this fact. Accept it as final. Don’t torture yourself by wishing for a world where only wonderful things happen. Once you do that, you can…
Be an optimist about your possibilities.
No matter how many problems we have, we’ll continue to discover new options and opportunities. We’ll always find new ways of coping, we’ll always find news of creating, and we’ll always find new ways of getting on with our lives.
If you’re basing your ability to be happy or successful on the absence of problems, then you’ll always feel screwed. Instead of trying to be optimistic about your problems, just accept pain and frustration as an unavoidable part of life. Once you do that, you can get down to the business of real optimism. Instead of trying to feel good about the bad stuff, you can focus on creating good stuff regardless of how you feel.
Stop wishing for a problem-free world and start capitalizing on the fact that our world is more than its problems. Problems will always be with us, but so will the possibilities. The key to life is accepting both.
Having opinions is costly.
If you get attached to them, there’s an emotional toll that comes along with observing realities that are inconsistent with your opinion. If you decide to promote them, it requires time. If you decide to express them, it can alienate you from others who would have otherwise liked you. Opinions aren’t cost free.
Have as many opinions as you want, but make sure they’re worth it. Life is finite and every bit of time, energy and attention that you spend defending this or debating that is time, energy, and attention you won’t be able to spend elsewhere. So make your opinions count.
When your time on this earth runs out, you don’t want to be one of the ones who say, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much time making nuanced arguments in the comments section of a Facebook post I didn’t really care that much about.”
T.K. Coleman is the education director for Praxis and an adjunct faculty member for the Foundation for Economic Education.