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The Tinkered Mind
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February 1st, 2022
If you want it bad enough, it’ll come true. This is a fairly ubiquitous and insidious tenet of current culture. Insidious because it implies that wanting is all that’s required. The more wishy washy aspects of culture have come up with other ways of invoking the same kind of spell, like manifest. But both wanting something enough, and manifesting are just forms of wishful thinking. They are hope incarnate.
And many who don’t prescribe to these kind of wishy washy ideas will not think the same thing about good old fashioned hope. But this concept is no different. It’s just a more wholesome flavor, underpinned by a longer history of use.
It’s not too difficult to see how wishful thinking can get in the way of execution. If we spend all our time and energy simply wishing for something to happen, then we have less time and energy to actually look at reality and try to figure out what puzzle-pieced set of actions might reconfigure reality into the one we’d like to see. Not only this, wishing, wanting, manifesting, and hope can leave someone feeling confident that the fantasy future is a sealed deal and that there’s no real reason to take any action.
Without these concepts and urges, it’s still possible to recognize that a different reality would be better. This is just a more sober phrasing of: wanting things to be different. But the sobriety of rephrasing helps to highlight the doorway to progress. Reality becomes a puzzle as opposed to the mysterious froth in a witch’s cauldron.
Instead of I really hope this happens! It becomes: what can I do to help reality change and move in a better direction - toward the one I can imagine?
In such a light, optimism and pessimism lose a bit of their sting and use.
Is it possible to be neither an optimist or a pessimist?
Certainly. But what exactly does that person look like?
We love to think in binary ways. You’re either an optimist or a pessimist. You’re either with me or against me. You either agree or disagree.
We even think about the option of binary in a binary way. You either think everything is binary, or binary doesn’t exist and it’s all a gradient spectrum! The irony is lovely.
So to remove the binary of optimism and pessimism might at first inspire the idea of a spectrum between effulgent positivity about the future and pure cynicism.
But what if we do away with that spectrum altogether. What if we boil things down to simply the actions that people take. This isn’t to evoke another binary, one of action vs inaction. But simply actions in general. Even people who ‘don’t take action’ are still living and breathing. Their actions are just far less grand than the ambitious person we often vaunt.
We boil it down to just people doing things. Wishful thinking and ‘manifesting’ and hope are a kind of fantasy, a dreaming, a mental intoxication - a sort of navel gazing. And all of it can be classified as a kind of action: it’s taking up time and imaginably some small iota of energy.
We need ask: is there a more effective set of actions that such a person could take to make reality reconfigure so that the present evolves into a better future?
Certainly. Wishful thinking will work every once in a while, just by dint of coincidence, but this is pure correlation, and not reliable causation.
All optimism and pessimism aside, all hope and wishing aside, we need only ask at any given time: is this the most effective action I can be engaging in to bring about a better version of reality tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year?