Caption: Image of someone standing on edge of cliff (image credit)
By guest blogger Hunter Glenn
As a country, we’d like to believe that things are looking up for us after this election. We have a new president with a new message and a new plan. Things have been bad for so long, and every time we tried something different, it just stayed the same or got worse. Now, finally, surely we’ve done something different enough by electing Donald Trump. So, what kind of future should we expect with President Trump?
The stakes are high. We carry a lot of baggage from our past disappointments. A lot of hope is riding on Trump to meet or exceed our expectations.
All that hope and high stakes are a warning sign, though. Does our emotional self want to believe comforting things about Donald Trump, regardless of whether they are accurate?
Well, maybe so, but optimism is a virtue. Why dwell on the negative? We should be glad the campaigning is over, the work is about to begin, and that change is around the corner.
Some question if optimism is always a good thing. Of course, it depends on what you mean. It’s okay to think you won’t get into a car crash and to drive worry-free – as long as you still wear a seatbelt and are just as careful as if you thought you might crash.
It’s okay to vote for a candidate in the hope of that candidate winning as long as you’re also prepared for the alternative. It’s okay to think you’re going to win a battle as long as you’re prepared anyway in case you lose. The issue only comes if you think all these positive thoughts about the future and then you let that keep you from being careful.
The real problem is that the higher the pressure of the situation, the more people want to believe that everything will be okay. They want to find some comforting anchor to hold on to, and then shut the rest of the world out before it convinces them that things don’t look so good. This is a typical human thinking error known as the Ostrich effect. Many people stay in bad relationships because they are desperate to overlook signs their partner may be abusive.
However, our situation is not really like that of someone in an abusive relationship. It is more like we just got a new boss. Shouldn’t we be optimistic about our future in the company. We don’t want to cater to our fears. Instead, we should move forward. Carefully, wisely, we will move on. Yes, this is a time to prepare, to look ahead to what’s coming, but also a time of much hope.
To be above fear, we must be well-prepared. If things go well, being prepared, a little extra put away, a little ahead of schedule, these can only make good times better. And if maybe things don’t go so well, far, far better to be prepared than not.
If you ever do get in a car crash, better to have been wearing your seatbelt. If you do lose the battle, better to be in position to win the war anyway. If Trump happens to be a bad leader, better to be prepared for whatever may come. We can allow ourselves the luxury of comfortable beliefs only once we’ve done our due diligence, and prepared for disappointment with backup plans in case things go wrong.
We can be attentive to important political issues that may arise, and make our voice heard, rather than blindly hoping everything will be fine without our attention. We can prepare for financial mishaps that might lie ahead, or changes on the international political scene.
Truth versus comfort; it’s not a real choice. Wisdom does not choose one at the expense of the other. Wisdom points us to preparation, to be ready for anything, to take comfort in our own readiness, and then look forward to the future without fear.
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Bio: Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, besides being an activist for reason and science popularizer, is an author, speaker, consultant, coach, scholar, and social entrepreneur specializing in science-based strategies for effective decision-making, goal achievement, emotional and social intelligence, meaning and purpose, and altruism – for more information or to hire him, see his website, GlebTsipursky.com.
He runs a nonprofit that helps people use science-based strategies to make effective decisions and reach their goals, so as to build an altruistic and flourishing world, Intentional Insights. He also serves as a tenure-track professor at Ohio State in the History of Behavioral Science and the Decision Sciences Collaborative. A best-selling author, he wrote Find Your Purpose Using Science among other books, and regular contributes to prominent venues, such as Time, The Conversation, Salon, The Huffington Post, and elsewhere. He appears regularly on network TV, such as affiliates of ABC and Fox, radio stations such as NPR and Sunny 95, and elsewhere.