LearnBlind Optimism

Treehouse

Treehouse
writes on March 28, 2011

I’m thinking about writing a book someday on the concept of Blind Optimism. It’s been one of the fundamental pillars of my life and is largely responsible for any successes I’ve had. The concept is simple and I’d like to help more people use it to find a life of unconventional happiness.

Freedom, Respect and Financial Control

I’m defining ‘Blind Optimism’ as the practice of suppressing your risk aversion while maximizing the advantages you were born with.

In my experience, there are three requirements for happiness: freedom, respect and financial control.

Let’s pick those three things apart …

1. Freedom

Freedom simply means that you’re free to do what you think is best. It could be anything really, but is usually manifested in things like …

  • Choosing where to live
  • Expressing your opinion
  • Having time to pursue your interests

2. Respect

This is the simple desire to have other people value your opinion, in your chosen field (motherhood, web design, politics, etc).

3. Financial Control

Money is simply an enabler. As you know, it doesn’t bring happiness. It allows you to buy the above two things. For example, you may want to move to a better city, but if you don’t have the money to do it, you don’t have the freedom to move.

You also need to be able to affect your finances. If you can’t afford something, you need the ability to increase your wealth.

Blind Optimism

So what exactly is Blind Optimism and how does it give you freedom, respect and financial control?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m defining Blind Optimism as the practice of suppressing your risk aversion while maximizing the advantages you were born with.

So the question is, how to you suppress your aversion to risk? The answer is simple: If the following four things are true of you, then there isn’t any real risk in your life. You can afford to be blindly optimistic.

Do you …

  1. Have a high school education? A basic understanding of how the world works helps give you credibility in the eyes of others. This is essential in gaining respect.
  2. Own or have access to a computer? This is your primary tool. It will allow you to build and launch the ‘engine’ that will provide the freedom, respect and financial control you need.
  3. Speak English? This will help with networking and marketing your ideas to a global audience. This might shift to Mandarin in the future, but English is tremendously valuable right now.
  4. Have time and willpower? You need to be willing to put in the time and effort to find happiness. It might take a year or more of insane hard work that pays zero short term dividends. There isn’t any shortcut.

If the above four things are true in your life, then you have no real risk to worry about. If you suffer any setbacks, you have the tools to fix them.

You can use these four advantages to find a life of unconventional happiness. It’s definitely possible to be blindly optimistic without these things, but it is significantly easier with them.

There’s one simple thing that has made this possible: The Internet. It’s the global platform that was needed to give anyone the chance to create a life of happiness.

I’m not saying that you can will anything in to existence (I’ve always wanted to be President of the United States, but I can’t make that happen) but if you desire freedom, respect and financial control (which I believe are all precursors to happiness) then there is nothing stopping you, except your own fear.

That may sound like an excerpt from a self-improvement book, but it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

I believe Blind Optimism is a path to happiness, and I’m hoping more people can leverage it. I’m only speaking from my personal experience, and I can confirm that Blind Optimism yields a lot of happiness 🙂

I’d love to hear your comments!

[I’d like to thank Willie Jackson for helping me stumble upon the word ‘Blind Optimism’ during an email exchange.]

43 Responses to “Blind Optimism”

  1. Mr. Gilford on January 18, 2016 at 7:17 am said:

    I’ve been bouncing this term around my head for a while now. So I decided to Google and see if the term made any sense. I see we are on the same page with the concept. I believe this concept works in some situations, but not all. I do belive that blind optimism can be dangerous in certain situations such as medical care from my personal experiences. You could be so blind & optimistic that you miss something or make a wrong decision that can’t be reversed. Just my thoughts on the subject….

  2. Jason Smith on January 7, 2016 at 11:08 am said:

    I couldn’t agree more. In fact I think a lot of people are guilty of living with various forms of blind pessimism. The future is ultimately unknowable, far better to approach it with a “can do” spirit. Blind optimism as an informed choice isn’t so blind in my opinion 🙂

  3. How appropriate. I just got around to reading this article today, 9 days after I decided to quit my job to focus on building myself as a web designer and developer (to a lesser degree). A lot of people have said I’m freaken crazy for quitting my job without having something else lined up, but I don’t care. I know I can be a great designer/developer, but it’s never going to happen if I don’t go for it. Thanks for validating my self-confidence, Ryan. Not that I really needed it, but it’s good to have 🙂

  4. Although I love the definition you’ve proposed for “blind optimism”, the term “blind optimism” really evokes something completely different for me.

    The trem FEELS like its promoting passiveness and lack of responsibility for a proactive approach.
    Blind optimism as it’s previously been defined is severely detrimental to asking critical questions and pushing boundaries.

    Being critical and skeptical are good qualities and a lot of times are confused with cynicism.

    I like the approach you are taking for helping people achieve happiness, maybe there is a better name for it?

    This is a good read on the topic of optimism and things it’s currently associated with (blind optimism when it comes to cancer diagnosis, profits being made on bunk positive thinking seminars). To me it’s a good argument for rethinking the name.

    http://www.amazon.com/Bright-Sided-Positive-Thinking-Undermining-America/dp/0312658850/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1301934229&sr=8-13

  5. I completely agree Ryan… I’ve made a few moves in my life that required a lot will power which for me is the most important thing! like living in another country away from family and friends specially coming from a country where the culture is to stay together (as a family)…

    “…then there is nothing stopping you, except your own fear” I think this is very true indeed… after you go past that, everything just seems much easier and possible!

    I look forward to reading your book about the subject.

    Bruno Passos

  6. I ‘LIke’ your concept a lot Ryan, it’s a truly optimistic approach, but with some added active ingredients. The thing about optimism alone is that it’s a nice state of mind, but it won’t get you anywhere. You’re positioning is great because it is all about action, doing something about ‘it’. Like you said, we have the tools to sort ourselves out of most difficulties.

    So I guess we have Pessamist, optimist and activist – ‘Half cup empty’. ‘Half cup full’ and ‘Keeping the cup full’.

    Thanks for sharing, I think it would make a good book.

  7. Ryan, this is a brilliant article. Simple and yet very true. The biggest problem most people (myself included) is that we doubt ourselves. Willam Shakespeare put it this way “Our doubts are traitors, they make us lose the good we might win by fearing to attempt.

  8. Anonymous on April 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm said:

    Great idea. Blind optimism makes this world go around!

  9. Great article as always. Carson for President! 🙂

  10. I agree totally with you and infact I have some pillars of my own which are Study (always keep learning things in life this can range from the simplest of things to the never shifting technologies of the web), Financial Control, Physical Health (Its good to be healthy and do some gym/cardio most of my ideas I get come whilst i’m walking), Work (Personal Projects, stable job etc) & Social Relationships (these can range from social media, friends, lovers etc.)

    I call them the 5 Pillars 🙂

    To be optimistic is very important, one may misjudge the power of positive thinking but believe me it’s one huge phenomenon! So like I love to say believe & achieve 🙂

  11. Great post Ryan. It’s not too late for you to be president. We need an optimist president.

  12. Ian McNaught on March 29, 2011 at 11:54 am said:

    Great article, inspiring stuff. One comment I would make is regarding time and willpower. I think this needs to be expanded, because the internet, as well as bringing great opportunity, has also brought us infinite means of distraction. I’ve recently started a new job with quite a wide range of responsibilities, all of which I am quite capable of overseeing. However, it’s been dawning on me that the difference between doing an adequate job and doing a superb job is primarily down to my time management. There is more than enough time in the day for me to do everything, but how long do I spend on facebook? interacting with twitter? commenting on blogs? keeping up with Google Reader? Even when I’m legitimately researching something online, how easy is it to bounce off subject and start reading up on something else instead? Even if its something else relevant, the flitting between things ultimately wastes brain power and time. The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced that the people who really succeed in life are those who can manage their time well, and focus on the task to hand for as long as it takes.

  13. Anonymous on March 29, 2011 at 3:23 am said:

    It’s been a long time since I read great article like this! Now I understand myself why i enjoy doing what I do where others think it’s boring. 🙂

  14. Well written, it’s a great read. According to this, I should be happy. 🙂

  15. Blind optimism will get you everywhere. Im building a startup atm and I get the feeling you just need to keep running up that mountain without looking at how high the mountain is 🙂

    Thanks Ryan, as always a great outlook on life!

  16. Yeah i think money is the tinniest part of happiness. With all the Couchsurfer stuff etc. you can went to another city for free. So you should mention that point not to much. I think youre philosophy works good with the whole minimalist idea.
    Happy Greeets
    Chris

  17. Anonymous on March 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm said:

    Thank you so much for this post. I am on the verge of a life change and I definitely think that risk aversion is trying to get the better of me right now. I need to believe in my ability to make the changes in my life that will grant me the three requirements for happiness that you talk about. Inspiring.

  18. Loved this Ryan, well stated. As I’ve observed you, you do indeed head into things with this attitude, and it’s pretty hard to argue with the results. Thanks for sharing, keep it up.

  19. I think the most important is obviously #4. With it, you can get the other 3.

    It’s important to have passion that’s not easily discouraged. A lot of people get disappointed after hearing no. Sometimes, you’re not making the right pitch or people are overwhelmed by communication to see what you have. You have no control or idea on why the answer was no…don’t dwell on it or it will destroy you. Try again or learn to move on.

    Relationships are important. I wish the world worked with only guts and hard work, but people do stuff with people they know. When you develop relationships…opportunities will present themselves. When they do, make sure you’re daring and ready to make a great impression. A good reputation is better than money in the bank.

    Thanks for the post Ryan.

  20. Man, that just blew my mind…. Thats my everyday….

    Damn Ryan Carson is pulling some “Secret” logic out of his hat. YOu should join greatday.com with the stuff you’ve been pushing out.

    Keep it up man… Some people need a boot in the ass sometimes

  21. Think Vitamin is one of my investments in #1 (Education). Thanks Ryan, excellent article!

  22. Nice article Ryan. I think you´re right in this question. Personaly I must enhance in third point (english… 🙂
    The world is so small now whith internet and the opportunities are out there.

  23. Thanks Ryan… Just the pick-me-up that i needed on a particularly Monday morning

  24. Money = Freedom

    • I disagree. It’s part of the equation but not the whole thing.

      • I disagree too. It depends on who’s in charge. The money or you! There’s a lot of awfully rich depressed people in this world. And depressed people tend not to have much “freedom”.

        I think one thing missing from your 4 point list is confidence. If you don’t have confidence in your own abilities you are unlikely to ever be “blindly optimistic”. (Perhaps you included that in your 4th point about willpower).

        • Hey Robin – great point. That reminds me that I was going to talk a bit about how having parents who gave you confidence was a key ingredient. Thanks for bringing that up.

  25. Great article, approaching things with a cynical and critical viewpoint rarely help us achieve happiness. If you focus on the risk then it will permeate into everything you do.

    To add to your point on finance, I’ve found the ability to determine between wants and genuine needs also helps me gain control.

  26. Cheers Ryan. Love this.

Learning to code can be fun!

Get started today with a free trial and discover why thousands of students are choosing Treehouse to learn about web development, design, and business.

Learn more