How Good Can it Get?

Because I am more prone to incessant worry about future events than I am to anticipating good outcomes, or pleasant surprises, I continue to struggle with my pessimism bias. That is I tend to exaggerate the likelihood that negative things will happen in the future.

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This morning, walking back from the gym, I had a thought drop in from the sky. A simple little question just popped into my head.  The question I pondered. . .

I wonder, how good can it get?

or better said by Alan Cohen . . .

 

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Here, a cheat sheet to the many cognitive biases that keep us stuck.

Featured image “Open mind” ceramic series by Johnson Tsang

The Case for Being Cautiously Optimistic

Being cautiously optimistic keeps me informed and realistic while remaining hopeful about the outcomes I wish to manifest.

Being too realistic can dry up my soul, but being too optimistic can make me extremely delusional.

If I see only the worst, it destroys my capacity to do something and if I only see the best, I may become blindsided by the bullshit I’m telling myself as things go horribly wrong.

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A case for remaining causiously optimistic throughout the day.

1. I remain clear and focused

The optimism bias (also known as unrealistic or comparative optimism) is a cognitive bias that causes a person to believe that they are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others.

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Four factors exist that cause a person to be optimistically biased: their desired end state, their cognitive mechanisms, the information they have about themselves versus others, and overall mood.[1]

The optimistic bias is seen in a number of situations. For example: people believing that they are less at risk of being a crime victim,[2] smokers believing that they are less likely to contract lung cancer or disease than other smokers, first-time bungee jumpers believing that they are less at risk of an injury than other jumpers,[3] or traders who think they are less exposed to losses in the markets.[4]

2.  My decisions are realistic.

The are based in reality, not in some daydream of how I want reality to be but more focused on how I am designing and producing the outcomes.

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3. I carefully weigh the pros and cons

I weigh the pros and cons and stay focused on the results I want – knowing I can achieve them, because I am optimistic that I will get results.

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4. Turning worry into work

Cautious optimism has me turn my worry into work while remaining positive about the outcome because I do a combination of what is tried and true while experimenting with fresh new solutions.

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5.  Impulsive vs Intentional

I am less prone to make impusive and spontaneous decisions – I am more strategic when I am cautiously optimistic.

6. Time is on My Side

I don’t waste or maybe I should say, I  waste less  time. Grounded and focused in reality and humble and hopeful for the future, I am purposeful. I remain cautiously optimistic.

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7. Open to Opportunity & Outcomes

I move forward and do what needs to be done, but I am not holding onto a set outcome – I am open to different visions and versions of what winning looks like for me.

8. Celebrate the Moments

My careful optimism has me recognize the small wins throughout the day. Celebrating the bits of wins throughout the day – acknowledging my small moments and accomplishments.

9. A Reminder to Be Here Now

Caution + optimism has me locked in to being present to what needs to be done now for the future.

10. Correct and Certain

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When I am cautious, I correct my mistakes. Having a sense of certainty and understanding and knowing what needs to be corrected in order to continue to make certain that I achieve everything I want to achieve.

11. Awake & Aware

I  remain on the look out for problems and I dare to make them opportunities. I ask myself, what’s great about this problem? Does it propose an opportunity to make something better?

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12. Hacking Away without Skipping the Essential

I recognize that there are no real short cuts – just smart strategies and in turn I am less delusional while focused on great outcomes.

No skimping – no scamming – just making sure I take each step carefully while remaining hopeful while proceeding with intelligence and faith.

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Having faith in the outcome while I am willing to learn, grow and make corrections.

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As We Are, So It Is

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Our perception builds and constructs our reality; which in turn becomes our life. With the help of our good, bad and indifferent judgements, our choice of language, our cognitive biases, past experiences and memories, we  assemble how we choose to see the world. All of these inferences paint the way we experience our lives and effect the lives of those closest to us.

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What we see is one thing, what we perceive is a completely different matter. Our reality is a co-production. Everything is a projection of what we hold inside our mind. So, I wonder, what if everything we see is really our very own optical illusion?  Everything in a way, our own private hell hall of hallucinations.

Like this beautiful parrot. . .

 

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That’s really a woman painted to look like a parrot.

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What if we could change the way we see everything, to see more clearly, to expand our mind and in turn our world?   What can we bring to this next moment, day, week, year so that we may live a life filled with more purpose and meaning?

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Instead of allowing our brains to create a haphazard existence based on our misconceptions and judgements. . .

What if we played a more active role in the process of creating our lives?

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Perhaps we begin with examining some of our cognitive biases. A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that affects the decisions and judgments that people make.

Cognitive Biases can screw up our thinking and decision making.

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I am curious, which cognitive biases do you relate to?

 

Side note: a fascinating look at some of the most impressive optical illusions.

Featured photography by Laura Williams