A pessimist is a person who thinks that bad things are more likely to happen or who emphasizes the bad part of a situation.
An optimist is someone who always believes that good things will happen.
When these two words are presented you probably draw yourself towards one of the two. An optimist is the more positive of the two, often referred to someone who likes to see the glass half full as opposed to a pessimist who will see it as half empty. But how do you view an unsustainable world as half full, when the glass itself is cracking and nothing is being done to fix it?
We continue to be confronted with news stories about topics like the Amazon rainforest destruction and how it is crucial for us to act within the next 18 months to limit the damages of climate change. How do you remain an optimist whilst being bombarded by this? There are positive stories out there but it feels to me like they are less frequent and the weighting of their impact compared to the negative ones is significantly smaller.
I used to describe myself as an optimist looking for the positives and trying not to think too much about the negative aspects. I liked to believe that governments and companies acting in the right interests could bring about change. Now, this can happen but has yet to materialise in the way we need and it feels like the current system is at odds with this idea.
Personally I think the situation is pretty f***ed up. When looking at the science and information regarding climate change, and the empty promises and actions of governments, it can be easy to feel a bit hopeless. Despite this, I would not call myself a pessimist. I think it is possible for the system to change and I am maybe best described a hopeful realist perhaps.
In my eyes there is no point believing it is hopeless or being pessimistic, those feelings aren’t positive, as living with the overbearing ideas of doom and gloom won’t benefit you or enrich my life they will only increase stress and other things like eco-anxiety.
We have seen instances where fear can bring about urgent action, like in Cape Town, South Africa, where a water crisis changed legislation and behaviours and reduced water consumption in the city by 60% over 3 years. However, when it comes to fear I also feel the rise in the discussion of eco-anxiety comes about from this as well, and if we cannot be mentally resilient it will become more difficult to act, and hope is a powerful ally in this fight.
It is good for us to come together and discuss our worries and thoughts on the issues but we cannot let them consume us. We must look after ourselves to ensure we have the capacity to continue our activism and change in a sustainable way. In more ways than one sustainability starts with us, through both our outward and inward actions.
I truly believe that change can happen and I have been inspired by movements such as Extinction Rebellion and the anti-coal movement in Germany. It’s amazing to see people coming together to stand up for our future. This continues to give me hope and I will continue to act in a way that brings about positive change!