Words reveal a lot about the "deep code" of the societies we interact in. In the US and many other countries, "realism" (rather than negativity) is presented as the opposite of "optimism." This is reflective of our pervasive cultural psychological bias. In a game of poker, this would be a "tell".
In reality, negativity is, at least, just as delusional as optimism. And given how the deepest scaffolding of the human brain is biased towards the negative to spot threats to our survival, it's more likely than not that our negativity (“realism”) is less realistic.
Although positivity is encouraged in US culture, there is also a subliminal, opposite undercurrent - That your optimism is a more of a delusion than your negativity. And yet, you should still be optimistic. This one of the most ingrained examples of cultural cognitive dissonance.
In truth, neuroresearch shows that we are all living in some sort of delusion. And if we're humble enough to admit it, we get new freedom. We get to choose an interpretation of reality that most helps us thrive. And that delusion, is typically a more "positive" delusion. Although some people are too positive for their own good (producing reckless behavior), most of us are not.
As an added bonus, optimism promotes problem-solving related brain activity. So we can more effectively address the valid concerns that make people feel negatively. Unlike prior contexts, in today's environment, it seems positivity is more useful to our individual and collective flourishing.
Let's get balanced, heal from our cognitive dissonance, and get epic.
This post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. He is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a cognitive coach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain.