"It's wonderful to have a psychologist such as Dr. Crawford on contract through Harris County's Risk Management program. I've attended several of his seminars and hold him in the highest regard. In addition, his weekly "Quotes and Comments" are consistently excellent, and, in my opinion, the BEST! Powerful, enlightening, and even liberating. Many thanks to Dr. Bill!"
Quotes and Wisdom
My purpose in sending these quotes, however, isn't to debate who's right. My purpose is to offer those who are interested information and support in creating a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Therefore, if seeing and expecting the worst is serving you, and you are finding a pessimistic perspective rewarding and fulfilling, then by all means, I would encourage you to continue to see the world from this view. If, however, you are looking for reasons and methods for changing your view (and thus your experience of life) from negative to more positive, I believe that the deeper message in this week's quote can be helpful.
For example, what if the phrase "a pessimist is one who burns his bridges before he gets to them" isn't just a clever put-down of pessimists (which could be seen as a pessimistic view of pessimism!!) but a statement of result? That is, if "bridges" are really ways of getting from one place to another and ways of getting over obstacles, then it may be true that to see the world in terms of problems versus solutions may be keeping us stuck in the world of problems without a "bridge" to the future, or a solution.
Further, given that "burning one's bridges" is often spoken of as cutting off people who could have been helpful or meaningful in some way, then it would seem that to live life from the perspective of seeing and expecting the worst could result in severing connections and, thus, might also result in a form of isolation. Or, as Paul Simon wrote, "I am a rock. I am an island. And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries." This, in my opinion, strikes at the heart of why people choose a pessimistic lifestyle (or choose to continue seeing life from this learned perspective) in the first place . . . the belief that seeing and expecting the worst will keep us safe from the pain of disappointment. It's my belief, however, that while never expecting to be loved may keep us from the pain of loved lost, it doesn't keep us from the pain of isolation and the tears of loneliness. Or put another way, a person who creates life as an island and/or rock out of fear or worry, will very likely feel pain and shed tears... just for different reasons.
Now, we could go into the recent research on optimism which shows that optimists are, as a group, happier, more successful, and even healthier (see Dr. Martin Seligman's book "Learned Optimism, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1990) however, as I have stated, my purpose here is neither to convince nor convert. My purpose is simply to offer words of support and guidance to those who are interested in creating a more purposeful, meaningful life (which includes myself:-). Therefore, if you have decided that continuing to focus on problems is helping you create the life you want, then I would encourage you not to change a thing. If, however, you have decided that you want to focus on solutions versus problems, on what is possible versus what is problematic, and on what you want versus what you are afraid of, then I am going to suggest a more optimistic view of yourself and your life that would support this vision. Or, put another way, if in your desire to create the life you want, you would rather build bridges and connections versus islands and walls, then I suggest that you are more likely to find the materials for such construction by first believing that they exist.