I’m a pessimist—how do I develop a new way of thinking?

Q: It seems like there’s too much pain and suffering due to evildoing of bad people, catastrophe, economic crisis and so forth looming and hovering around our hemisphere…or am I just getting too old? Is there another way to look at this?

You know very well that there’s another way to look at it, so your real question, I think, is how to adopt another way. You can’t talk yourself into seeing sunshine on a rainy day. If you try, you are deluding yourself. Many people, thinking of themselves as realists, feel the same about good and evil. They don’t want to take their eyes off the negative aspects of life because realism demands that we take the bitter with the sweet.

Yet who is to say the bitter is more real than the sweet? If your vision of life contains love and peace, if you yourself have renounced violence, if you set yourself on the spiritual path, these things don’t mean you aren’t a realist. They mean you aim for a higher reality. I don’t mean God, although I am not excluding religion. We are talking about hidden potential. Human nature is divided. It contains both darkness and light. You can choose to accept the darkness and lament it, or you can choose to expand the light until the darkness no longer dominates.

There is no getting around this choice, which is highly personal. I know millions of people are alienated and disenchanted. They sit passively watching the latest reports of violence, catastrophes, corruption and misdeeds float by on the evening news. But the adage is true: One candle is enough to cause the darkness to go away. Once you choose to raise your own awareness, you will have done the most you can to defeat the dark side of human nature, and to discover a higher reality can actually be found and lived.