When you look at the ocean from a beach in Mauritius you see serenity and calmness, amazing sunsets colouring the horizon orange and red and amber; from the comfort of a deck chair with a long cocktail in your hand. When you stand on the Wild Coast of Africa you see the ferocious waves breaking, the wind bellowing at your shirt and the spray wetting your face. You are greeted by desolate skeletons of ships, memorials to glorious history. The same ocean, but worlds apart. Both views allow you to appreciate the volume of water as far as your eyes can see. Blue and wide and deep.
Exactly like human emotion and opinion, where one situation can cause two people to have widely different views. Where two people can experience the same thing but choose to react in ways that are fundamentally different from one another.
Sometimes the reality of a situation is bleak. One cannot argue with the facts when it does not promote hope or courage or motivation. The Titanic struck an iceberg. It was sinking. There was not enough lifeboats. The water was cold. People were going to die. When life hands you those kinda cards, how do you continue playing? How do you keep a positive outlook? How do you keep afloat in the icy water when everyone else around you is drowning in their ocean of cynicism?
If I had the answer to this question I would probably be a very successful (and extremely rich) motivational speaker, which I’m not. I am just a frustrated man who does not understand why most people choose to give up, why they choose to shout their views of failure, to only bring problems and reasons why something cannot be done.
I probably sound like a broken record, especially to those who have been following me for a while, but I firmly believe that every reaction on every situation is a personal choice. I would be a liar if I have to say I am happy all the time, but I choose to keep criticism to myself, I choose to not talk about the problems constantly and I choose to look at the successes. I choose to avoid negative influences in my life.
I know now, that no matter how motivated I am, the decision on how to react to a situation is an individual quest. I have come to realise that the environment where people move, will further influence their decision and ultimate reaction. If you surround yourself with more and more people who share a similar opinion, you will probably end up with that opinion rubbing off on you.
Like the smell of smoke when you stand next to an open fire on a cold night. You might not be aware of the smell, just enjoying the feeling of warmth and knowing that you belong somewhere. But the next day you will, the smell will stick to your clothes and your hair.
It is not that people in groups can’t think for themselves; it’s just easier not too. When you are bombarded with different variations of the same opinion you will eventually conform. Feel like they do. You will be sucked into the vortex and not even realise that you are becoming just another generic voice in a growing crowd.
Fortunately this is true for both sides of the coin. I know it is not easy to be the optimist in a sea of pessimists, but imagine being the only pessimist in a sea of optimists. Imagine for a moment how different life could be. Maybe I do have the answer for my own question, asked in the beginning of this piece.
There has to be a balance in power for all the cynics out there, my people, the crusaders for optimism. Seek them out and invite them into your inner circle. Make them your shield against the attack of the opposites, so that you can remain strong and shine the light in the darkness. Become the majority. Seek other swimmers and blow your whistle even if your lips are frozen blue. They are out there, those willing to survive, those who has not given up.
(For balance and reason, include some realists in your circle too, they anchor us.)