Realistic Optimism

A realistically optimistic person knows that though things will happen, things that will be surprising, disappointing or completely out of control.

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Cautiously Optimistic

Our predictions usually seem to fall towards extremes, either too optimistic or too pessimistic. We underestimate how bad things can be in the short term, and how much better they can eventually turn out to be in the longer run. This leads to bad decisions, laughably wrong forecasts and predictions and a lot of confusion.

A reasonably optimistic person is a little cautious, a little cynical, and expects surprises, setbacks, bewilderment and disappointment.

Too much optimism prevents us from accurately predicting and understanding the pain and struggle that is inevitable in the future.

What it does is it reduces our stress and anxiety and provides a ‘playground’ where we can imagine alternative realities which we need to believe in.

The war-torn countries of the 1940s, Germany and Japan, quickly recovered and exceeded the expectations of the world, ranking much higher in development than many countries who had not experienced war.


Progress happens at an exponential rate when people learn new things, and when there is collective pain, suffering and misery, people learn a lot.

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RELATED IDEAS

Some downsides are unavoidable

Life is a little easier if you expect a certain chunk of it to go wrong no matter how hard you try.

Smart people screw up. Good people have bad days. Nice people lose their temper.

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The risks we talk about are seldom the most important in hindsight. The real risk is what no-one sees coming. For example, September 11th, Pearl Harbor, The Great Depression. These events surprised nearly everyone and instantly shoved the world in a new direction.

When we are caught off guard, two things happen: One is that we are vulnerable. The other is that surprise shakes our beliefs in a way that leaves us paranoid and pessimistic.

Permanent Assumptions

In this world of uncertainties, nothing but death and taxes are sureshot in our lives.

There are however some assumptions that withstand the test of time. These assumptions take into account basic human psychology and historical data.

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