Optimism, pessimism and everything in between

People have good days and bad days. In social situations, perceptions are often skewed and cognitive distortions are magnified in sometimes frightening, often hilarious ways. Human nature is a messy affair, and I’ve found that the best way to deal with emotional chaos is to laugh it way, make fun of it in you, make fun of it in me, call us all crazy and just forgive it. I am wary of socially engineered optimism, because I think it denies the full spectrum of human experience. For the same reason, I am wary of socially engineered pessimism (I’m thinking of that South Park episodes about the emo, goth and vamp kids). I try to sit somewhere in the middle thinking of ways to laugh about the extremes.

That said, in the classroom, I think extra optimism serves a very real and necessary function. It teaches us all to treat each other with respect and compassion. It helps motivate me when I’m down, and it helps motivate you when you’re down. I wouldn’t advocate singing Christmas carols all day long, but willingness to help each other along through this process is essential.

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