• Colin Huntley



Optimism: hopefulness or confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.


To understand what optimism is in the context of what can feel like an overwhelming year, I figure a good way to start is to look at what the word itself means. The Latin root 'opti', means light or sight; The Latin root 'opt', means to choose, and the suffix 'ism', means belief. String all of this together, and optimism takes on a deeper, more philosophical definition than listed above this paragraph. It would essentially work out to this: Optimism is belief in the choice to see light.


Darkness is easy to see. It's effortless actually. You don't even have to open your eyes to see it. It's on the news every day. Especially in the year 2020, but also in years prior, it seems like horrible things compound on one another. Every bad thing that happens is reported and commented on by not only our often unqualified news anchors, but also our unqualified Facebook friends. The pessimist sees this incessant negativity and internalizes it. They believe what they hear most often, which is usually bad.


Why is the news always so bad? It might be because human beings are genetically predisposed to internalize danger so to protect ourselves. There's biological mechanisms inside each one of us that wants to hear every bit of bad news there is so we can protect ourselves. So bad news gets our attention. The problem with this is that our attention is worth money. And who is to stop anybody from capitalizing on that commodity by manufacturing scary falsehoods to keep us watching and thus keeping ad revenue flowing?


And what about Facebook friends? They aren't being paid to post about how bad things are online, right? Well actually, yes, just not with money. They're being paid in importance. Think about it. Don't you get a strange rush every time something bad happens and you break the news to someone before anyone else did? It's not necessarily excitement, but a sense of duty, like you did something important by relaying the information. That's why your Facebook friends love sharing bad news.


So what does an optimist do in a year like 2020? By definition, an optimist believes in the choice to see the light, right? That's just what an optimist does. In the 20th century, we saw 2 World Wars, a Great Depression, a massive pandemic, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the genocide of millions of Jews in the Holocaust. And that's not even scratching the surface. Yet still, here we are in 2020, alive and quite honestly still thriving. How?


It would have been so easy for the masses to decide that the wrath of God was upon them and civilization itself was doomed in the 20th century. The amount of suffering in that 100 year period of time is unfathomable. But the optimists chose to believe there was light to see. There had to be. If not, we wouldn't be here. If we had let our cynicism get the best of us entirely, we would have destroyed ourselves in the Cold War, given up on the pursuit of happiness after the Great Depression, or surrendered to the tyranny and evil of Adolf Hitler. And how terrible of a world would that be? But we didn't give into any of those temptations to give up. We believed we could do better, and we moved forward.


2020 has been dark so far. No question about it. But what if we chose to believe there was light to see? I believe the optimists are currently and will continue to rise from the darkness of this year, in search of light that they know is above ground. They will search, and they will find it. And we will be better for it. Optimism looks in the same in 2020 as it has throughout all of human history. Optimism is an explorer lost in a dark cave, remembering what the sun was like, knowing that despite not being able to see it, it's still as real as when he could.


Believe that there is light to be found. Opt in to optimism. There is much to build and improve upon.


  • Colin Huntley



Consistency is a powerful word. It has no stipulations of emotional preparedness, desire, or motivation. Consistency is not a dependent, but a wildly independent idea that finds a way to get the job done come hell or high water. Its impetus is not inspiration, but decision.


Decision making is a lesser known virtue, something we don't do a great job at acknowledging the significance and meaning of. We think that our problems come from not doing what we say we're going to do. The problem is actually that we actually always do what what we decide we're going to do.


When we decide we'll go to the gym in the morning, but end up hitting the snooze button five times and skipping, the decision was never actually to go to the gym in the morning. It's what we said, but a our decision was actually, I will go to the gym in the morning if I feel up to it. We rarely do what we say we'll do. We always do what we decide we'll do.


So perhaps our motivations are pipe dreams, not really capable of improving. But the quality of decision making - now that could and should be improved wildly!


To help you become a better decision maker, a consistency developer, rather than a goal setter, here's a consistency model. It will help you cross-examine the things you want to make consistent in your life.


EXAMPLE:


1. Consistency: Keep calories to 2,000 a day, 5 days a week:


PROS:

- I've done it before, so I know I'm capable.

- Regulates energy

- Keeps me looking good, which makes it easier to be comfortable being my real self


CONS:

- Sometimes I want more food


(If your pros outweigh your cons, you can be sure that it's something you want more than you don't).


How can I support this consistency in my life?

- Fasting until 12pm every day, no exceptions.

- Splurges are fine, but keep them to 1 serving

- Grocery shop for success

- Veggies/Fruit galore



Consistency is a goal's older, wiser brother. If you can learn how to develop consistency in your life, by making thoroughly developed decisions, the quality of your life will drastically improve, and quickly at that.

  • Colin Huntley



I do not know how you have been dealing with the COVID-19 situation. As for me, my mood has been ebbing and flowing, and it's probably safe to assume you have been experiencing similar ups and downs.


For the most part, I have felt positive. Things will work out. We'll be okay. And then, like clockwork, once I have fully come to peace with the situation, there is a new article with a new reason as to why I should scared. I've been wondering why this situation has been so unstable for my psyche. It occurred to me why this morning; Basically every problem I've ever had has been a personal problem, and COVID-19 is far from a personal problem.


The kind of problems I've faced are not trivial, not unimportant, but they have been different. For the most part, they have been problems solvable through perseverance, determination, and grit - personal responsibility. Whether relational, financial, physical, or mental, all of my problems have been the responsibility of me to fix, and me alone - personal problems. As I reflected on what makes me afraid about COVID-19, I narrowed it down to a couple of things.


The first fear is watching the news and hearing about how many of my neighbors are dying or suffering. I'm terrified of the images I may see on the news of people in hospital beds, or graphic verbal accounts of horrific hospital stories, knowing all of that is happening in my back yard.


The second thing I'm terrified of is the economic fallout of this country in the wake of COVID-19. I imagine riots in the street, politicians maliciously capitalizing on the chaos, and a deep dark economic depression that will characterize the better part of my 20's and 30's.


If they only saw things like I do, we would all be handling this better and things would be okay.


I've been scheming ways to contract the perfect word cocktail to inspire everybody to work together and take care of one another. Maybe, I thought, if I could just figure out how to explain the way I feel in just the right way, it will go viral and everyone will agree. Maybe my blog will land on the desktops of world leaders and inspire them to do things the way I think they need to be done. Maybe everyone will read what I have to say, and because of it, they'll stop panic buying, and fear mongering, and then none of these things I'm afraid of will materialize.


In times like this, where the actions and mood of the masses are the only factors that separate you from your fears, it's hard not to want to change and fix people to see things the way you do. There is only one way to find some peace: Fully accept people as they are. I can't change people. They are as they are and will do what they do like air is invisible, and the sun is hot.


The irony is being at peace with your cause, without the need to prove it worthy is the best way to be influential. Wanting to change how everyone is reacting, or mitigate their responses and behavior comes from a place of fear and uncertainty. Acceptance of people as they often are - cheaters, liars, thieves, and schemers, comes from a place of certainty and peace. Funny enough, as people pick up on this sort of spirit in you, they begin to think you're on to something, and listen to what you have to say. This kind of spirit is what leaders are made of.


Most of us want to fix things. We all have a well intended, but naive idea that we may have the one unique perspective that will set the world in order again. We don't. We can only lead by example. The best way to tackle this situation, which is oh so much bigger than any single one of us is to accept reality for what it is. It's a big problem, much bigger, and more out of our control than the personal problems we are accustomed to facing. If we can accept that, we can work towards peace. Otherwise, we'll spend our lives trying to treat the world's problem like a personal problem, and forever come up short trying to fix it.