Are You Needlessly Pessimistic About a Beautiful World?

Cognitive biases can make our life harder than it has to be.

Are You Needlessly Pessimistic About a Beautiful World?
Photo by Mert Talay on Unsplash

Cognitive biases can make our life harder than it has to be.

A few weeks back, I had one of my “episodes.”

I wasn’t fulfilled with my work. The money in my bank wasn’t flowing as steadily as I’d have liked it to. No matter what I said or did, my partner and I never seemed to be on the same page. Online, my views were falling, and no matter how frequently I posted, I couldn’t keep up with the 60k monthly views I otherwise averaged.

Things got so bad, I had to get on a call with my therapist.

“When have you last practiced gratitude?” she asked me.

This hit me right where it hurt. Yes, I was going through a rough phase, but I also hadn’t taken out time to appreciate all the good things I still had going on for me.

As if this wasn’t enough, I came across Mark Manson’s recent video, where he talks about something known as “The Blue Dot Effect.”

This is based on the research Harvard psychologists carried out a few years ago. It suggests that our mind is conditioned to look for threats and issues, regardless of how safe or comfortable our environment is. Clipping Chains calls itPessimism in a Beautiful World.”

This got me thinking, and in this article, I wanted to share my perspective on The Blue Dot Effect.

The better things get, the more we nitpick on the smallest of issues.

How often have we taken things for granted, ignoring all our growth and only focusing on what we lack?

How often have we been so obsessed over what we need to have, that we forget to acknowledge how far we’ve come?

The Blue Dot Effect can manifest in multiple ways, depending on the person’s worldview. To me, it manifests as focusing on the gaps, the lack, the missing pieces.

After reading more about it and understanding how my brain is wired, I’ve come to acknowledge this isn’t my fault. Whatever I’ve perceived is based on how my world treated me growing up. And now, I can choose to rewire this setting of my brain.

Today onwards, I pledge to be intentional about looking for the good.

I pledge to count my blessings more, and make the most of the present moment.

CTA for you: Take a few moments to open a journal and write about the last thing that made you super upset. Then, write down three reasons you’re grateful that upsetting thing happened. I know this will require a lot of effort, but it might teach you to look for positives among the negativity.

The size of the problem doesn’t determine our emotional reactions to it.

Has anyone ever called you out for “overreacting?”

Looking at the events that shaped my past, I’ve understood that a lot of the times what’s causing me pain is mostly in my head. I obsess over something that’s yet to come, give myself anxiety sleepless nights.

When the problem actually comes to be, it often surprises me how easily I sailed past it.

This reminds me of Newt Scamander’s quote from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, 

“Worrying means suffering twice.”

I know pledging never to worry is a long shot, but at least I can pledge to be more mindful over what I let myself get upset over.

I’m leaving you with another quote by Haruki Murakami, 

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

Pessimism in a beautiful world: Final words

The dark phase I found myself in, what I’d called as an “episode” at the start of this article, didn’t end immediately the moment I started practicing gratitude. But the practice definitely gave me something to ponder upon.

Yes, my work wasn’t always fulfilling, but being a full-time writer is the only dream I’ve had since I was a child. Surely, some bad days doesn’t imply my life is bad.

Yes, the finances weren’t good. But in 2023, I’d managed to replenish all the savings I’d used up while buying a car in 2022. It might not seem like a lot, but I did this while traveling to two countries, backpacking through multiple Indian states, and devoting a significant chunk of my time to learning how to pole dance.

Yes, my partner and I were arguing more. But we were also using more effective forms of communication that didn’t leave the other feeling misheard or misunderstood. Fights actually strengthen a relationship, and sorting your differences in a healthy way can make your love last longer.

And yes, my views online were falling. But the algorithm had changed (again?!), and none of it was in my hands. 

So you see, we might be caught up in our sorrow like it’s the end of the world. But when we zoom out a bit and allow ourselves a change of perspective, a lot of the problems solve themselves.

I’m not encouraging toxic positivity. Being sad and working your way through it is an integral part of being an adult.

But if you feel your life’s hit rock bottom and there’s nowhere farther to fall, maybe you need to look up, see the light, and start climbing your way towards it.

Try this perspective shift the next time you’re down. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

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