Saturday, April 17, 2021

Open Minded Optimism

We humans are optimists by nature. It is the tough life choices that makes pessimists. Our innate feelings are always optimistic. We never carry an extra pair of footwear with us, even though we have had bad experiences of them giving up on us so often. That is the proof of our innate optimistic nature. But somehow the word OPTIMISM has been misunderstood by many.

When I come across the question, which I do come across so often - “Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person?” I usually answer “I am the person who says there is a glass”. Everyone wants to hear me say, I am a glass half full person and that to be the reason behind my surviving cancer. We all are great fans of the glass half-full optimism and we look down upon glass half-empty pessimism. But just looking at things with optimistic glasses on our vision enough to deal with any situations? Is hope and optimistic attitude always helpful? If I say, “Everything is going to be fine” and shut my mind off to the possibilities of something not working out as I planned, is my optimism helping? I feel I need to keep my mind OPEN even when I am optimistic about a situation. For example, even though I assure myself I am feeling well and I have no evidence of cancer in my body, I should also take care by going for regular check-ups.
You often get the advice when you are evaluating things -”Be positive” but the word positive itself becomes scary when you are waiting for biopsy results of the lump on your body, or in present day very close to home for everyone during the Covid19 pandemic waiting the results of covid test.

Though we admire optimism and hate pessimism, in truth they both are unrealistic thought processes. Though hope and optimism may give us our morale a great boost temporarily, it may cause disappointment and frustration in future.

Let us imagine a simple situation which can happen-

A highschool child is late to come home from school

Pessimist parent - I think something has happened to my child. What if s/he met with an accident or has been kidnapped? Panics and starts pacing around.

Optimist Parent - Everything is going to be OK. S/he must be having extra classes or visiting his friends. Keep calm and do nothing.

What is the ideal response here? I don’t want to answer that question because it is a choice of everyone to decide how they want to respond to that situation. How long is the right time to wait, who to call and confirm about the child’s safety or whether to go out there to see if your child is safe. The choice is yours. But we know that both the thought processes are not reality or truth.

One of the reasons why people fighting cancer should move away from false hopes or excessive optimism is that it may mislead us to ignore the truth and reality. I have come across many people fighting cancer who have been optimistic about miracle healings, alternative medicines or just divine intervention which has cost them their lives.In fact, I was actually told to try out many options before opting for surgery, but I was very firm with my decision. It is not only the loss of life which could have been saved which is painful, moreover, the people left behind suffer in the pain that they could not do enough.
Cancer needs timely intervention and right treatment the first time. The second fight is always going to be tougher than the first one. So, instead of falling victim to the pessimist fears or surfing on the optimist waves, have a clear picture of what needs to be done and what are the possible outcomes with open minded realism. There are times when truth hurts, but denying the truth will not clear its existence. Truth will rear up its head when it has to. Being optimistic will not stop it. The best option for us is to accept the truth, be open minded to the future and dare to look reality in its face for what it is without blurring our vision with overt optimism.

Optimism should be in the courage we build to face the truth, and not in having unrealistically high expectations from the present situation or being unrealistically sure of the outcome. When we fail to consider the possibility that things might go less well than what we hoped for, we should not end up being unprepared for it. Our overt optimism shouldn’t stop us from making an accurate assessment of the number and magnitude of the risks involved in dealing with a situation.

We should be open minded in our optimism to the possibilities that everything may not go as we planned or just hoped to happen. We should be open to the idea that things may not turn as expected and ready with plan B in case plan A fails. I would say open minded optimism is smart choice over blind optimism which leaves us unprepared for a calamity.

Open minded optimism is not about carrying extra footwear with you every time you step out of your home but enjoying a lovely long drive with first aid in your car’s dashboard.


  1. You are right, blind optimism can cause harm. So can unreflected faith. "Just pray, and everything will be fine." And if not? Did these people not believe hard enough? Are they getting the death penalty because their faith was not unconditional enough?

    Cautious optimism, on the other hand, may actually support healing. If you're going through all these treatments, it can't hurt to reinforce them with a positive attitude, like visualizing what you're going to do once you're back on your feet - and throw in a healthy smoothie full of vitamins while you're at it.

    1. Both my sister and mom compromised on treatment and they lost their lives. I still feel so bitter about it. Optimisim is good and I have dollops of it, but I have learned not to ignore the reality with overt optimism.

  2. That's a very practical and rational way of looking at it and I quite like how you explained it. Great post!

  3. Thank you for appreciating my view which is based on my own experience and doesn't follow the cliche..


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