A Six-Week Guided Writing Series
Focus on what’s ‘right’ instead of what’s ‘wrong’ to transform your life.
Are you tired of the cynicism and pessimism pervading the world today? Do you despair of the hopelessness and doomsday thinking that dominate these challenging times? Do you wonder why precious little attention is paid to what’s right in a world where so much has gone so terribly wrong?
In this paradigm-shifting series, you’ll explore optimism as a life-saving human trait that comes naturally when you practice insight. Optimism is a philosophical choice, in fact, that is available to every one of us when we open our eyes to our human potential, and the goodness of the people around us. This radical, uplifting way of seeing is the antidote to the catastrophic worldview so fashionable in these troubling times.
Yet scientific research and wisdom traditions both point to optimism as our secret weapon against “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” Rational, reality-based, and illuminated by insight, such ‘cosmic optimism’, as Emerson called it, is an invitation to celebrate life’s beauty, goodness, and truth – the joy and wonder of being alive on this astounding planet – without in any way denying the suffering of the world.
“Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad,
but chant the beauty of the good.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
During each live 90-minute session, Mark will guide you two writing explorations focused on particular aspects of optimism, and ways to counter negative predictions, resignation, self-denial, and disaster consciousness. Following each writing, there will be optional break-out groups and Q&A. In addition to decades of experience as a writer and teacher, Mark offers personalized prompts to participants who wish to deepen their self-inquiry practice.
In The Bright Side of Life, you will learn to:
*Strengthen the ‘optimism bias’ with which nature has endowed you
*Isolate and neutralize your pessimism triggers
*Utilize active imagination as an antidote to pessimism
*Avoid doom scrolling and the 24/7 (bad) news cycle
*Separate ‘idiot optimism’ from cosmic optimism based on insight
*Develop an ongoing writing practice to strengthen your self-awareness
Session One: The Rational Path of Optimism
In this first session, we dissolve the myth that optimism is based on denial, delusion, and irrational hope for the impossible. Though pessimists often call themselves realists, this is an illusion. By ignoring the bright side of life, pessimism produces a ‘lie of the mind’ that is bad for us physically, psychologically, and spiritually.
Session Two: Don’t Let Appearances Fool You
In this second session, we explore the relationship between appearances and fear, and how we’re deceived by surface impressions. When you examine your fears more closely, you discover they are not what you thought they were; fear diminishes in the light of attention. That’s why activities like doom scrolling are so harmful; trawling online for terrible headlines, we miss the good things taking place in our midst.
Session Three: Know Your Triggers
Pessimism wouldn’t be half as appealing without our negativity bias, as we learn in this third session. Predisposed to recognize threats and danger, this primitive part of who we are keeps us stressed and over-vigilant, worried about things that don’t affect us, waiting for the next toxic shoe to drop. By recognizing your pessimism triggers, you learn to meet destructive thoughts with equanimity and a large grain of salt.
Session Four: Use Your Imagination
In this fourth session, we learn about the link between imagination and optimism, and how both lead to resilience. Imagination is a hard-wired survival tool that allows us to consider solutions, possibilities, and realities that don’t exist yet. In the grip of pessimism, imagination frees you from the tyranny of worry and stress, cultivating openness toward the unknown.
Session Five: The Law of Compensation
Life is comprised of contradiction and paradox, which is not a problem, as this session makes clear. We’re meant to embody opposites, to accept the fact that for every upswing there will be a decline, and this is how it’s meant to be. Optimism tells us that both are true and that expecting growth without diminution, or progress without problems, is immature and unhelpful.
Session Six: The True, the Good, and the Beautiful
In this final session, we consider how truth, goodness, and beauty calm the mind and heal the heart. Harnessing the power of optimism, you become “equal to the task of living,” in Emerson’s words, regardless of what life throws at you. Pessimism blinds you to abundance and plenty, creates stories of self-loathing, enmity toward others and hopelessness toward the world. Knowing this helps you step free of entrapment in depressing scenarios, and a darkened way of seeing reality.
“Mark Matousek opens the craft of writing as a way to dive into the art of self-reflection. Writing to Awaken will restore meaning and change your life.”
~Mark Nepo, NY Times bestselling author and teacher.
Known for his intuitive, compassionate teaching, Mark creates a welcoming atmosphere for writers of all levels to benefit from this powerful work. In this books, workshops, and online courses, Mark’s Writing to Awaken method has helped countless people around the world reach their creative and spiritual goals. As an author, seeker, and teacher, he brings 35 years’ experience to his transformational work with students.
Scientific studies have shown that a regular writing practice has the ability to improve physical, mental, and emotional health in dramatic ways. No writing experience is necessary. All you need are curiosity, openness, and the desire to live an awakened life.
Mark describes the power of writing to heal in this essay from The Saturday Evening Post.
HOW THE CLASS WORKS
The class will meet on the easy-to-use Zoom platform which is accessible from your computer, smart phone or tablet. Dial in options are also available for those who don’t want to use video. The Zoom access details will be sent the morning of each session and again an hour before.
Each session will consist of Mark’s weekly lesson, followed by guided writing exercises, and ending with a group discussion. Sessions are no more than 90 minutes in length. You are not required to participate. Anonymity is respected. Each session will be recorded and emailed to registered participants.
For those that register for the complete series, there will be a Google Group for the posting of writing you want to share with the class. Using Google Groups allows the class to read, comment and support each other’s work in a positive and nurturing environment. We will contact you a few days before the first class for setup in the Group.
“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.”
It’s never too late to renew your perspective.
Discover how the power of optimism, hope, and imagination can bring
insight and well-being into your life and allow the ‘good’ you
to be your beacon in a foggy world.
Join us for The Bright Side of Living.
Register for Individual Sessions
Individual Session: $30
Individual classes can be purchased up to 30 minutes before the class start time.
All sessions are on Thursday from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Eastern
(4 pm Central, 3 pm Mountain, 2 pm Pacific, 10 pm BST, 7 am + 1 Day AEST)