Optimists or Pessimists? Who is right?

 Let me start with a small riddle. 

An optimist and a pessimist are contemplating a change project. 

What happens? 
Well, nothing at all. 

An optimist says: Do not worry, be happy, it will all end well by itself, while a pessimist says: I cannot change anything so it has no meaning doing anything anyway. 

On one side we do seem to have a self-serving bias (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-serving_bias) and an optimism bias on average (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimism_bias). As a result of self-serving bias we tend to explain our successes by our skills and effort and our failures by external effects. The optimism bias lets us indulge in risky behavior or endless projects. 

On the other side as a population we do seem to be quite prone to pessimism bias and/or depression as well, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depression_(mood)). This on the other side lets us do nothing but worry. 

However, doing nothing is not a very promising option for our future on this planet. There is no future on a "Dead planet". So, how do we go about radical change in our-self and the world around us?

We need to be able to hold a paradox of optimism and skepticism at the same time. 
First, we need to look ahead and get a strong vision of future outcome and make it vivid. This is the optimistic side of the paradox. Second, we need to critically look at the data of today and separate facts from opinions. This forms the other side of the paradox. Finally, we we need to focus on the brute data which might form obstacles on the way forward and to find ways to overcome them day by day, while forming bonds, relationships and connections with like minded people. This kind of approach is described as Stockdale paradox according to a US officer who survived long captivity during the Vietnam war (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322210696_How_managers_use_the_Stockdale_Paradox_to_balance_the_now_and_the_next

So we become Activists - seeing the goal for tomorrow, acknowledging all the brute data from today and acting in small steps Now! We mutually support each other on the way. 

Peter Stefanyi, Erickson Trainer of Four Quadrant Quantum Thinking course