Not Optimism, Optimal Behavior

Last year, Ray Bradbury died and when he did I came across something great he said in an interview that’s worth living by day by day and being reminded of on the first day of a new year:

I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing. If you behave every day of your life to the top of your genetics, what can you do? Test it. Find out. You don’t know—you haven’t done it yet. You must live life at the top of your voice! At the top of your lungs shout and listen to the echoes. I learned a lesson years ago. I had some wonderful Swedish meatballs at my mother’s table with my dad and my brother and when I finished I pushed back from the table and said, God! That was beautiful. And my brother said, No, it was good. See the difference?

Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.

It’s all about doing your best everyday. That option is the best that is available to you to do on any given day. Let the days add up on their own.

Oh yeah, and whatever you do–don’t tell anyone your New Year’s Resolutions.

And try procrastinating better. Personally, over the years I’ve learned to be the most productive by focusing on doing the good things I’m not obligated to be doing whenever I get a chance.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Kodie

    I am bookmarking this article and the links inside of it. I think it will help a lot of my time management issues and possibly cut down on my usage of buzzwords incidentally.

  • Kodie

    2a. Someday when I’m supposed to be doing something else, I will read them too.

  • http://www.emilyhasbooks.com/author/bridget/ Bridget Gaudette

    I’m bookmarking this. I need to read it occasionally and remember.

  • jose

    I don’t think my genetics can handle any more turkey. Hope that counts! :D

  • http://nfactor.ca mikmik

    Yes, you hit the nail on the head about procrastination. If I am obligated to do something, I’ll get to it!


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