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.