Breakthrough Newsletter
By George Pitagorsky

Volume VI, Issue 4                                                                        Top    April 2014
In This Issue
How Much Government is Best?
"Productive insight; clear (often sudden) understanding of a complex situation."  Free Dictionary

Pop the bubble of conditioned thinking and emerge into the creative realm of "no absolutes," continuous change, uncertainty and unlimited possibilities.

Then, there can be innovation, adaptation and optimal performance.

Performance & Open-minded Mindfulness:
Open-minded: questioning everything, accepting diversity and uncertainty. 

Mindful: consciously aware; concentrated.

Foundation for blending process, project, engagement and knowledge management into a cohesive approach to optimize performance.
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Beyond Optimism and Pessimism to Objectivity, Acceptance and Faith 

in the Future

by George Pitagorsky  



We may rightly try to confront injustices, but some things can only be seen, noted, and accepted for what they are. 

Stephen Altschuler, "Sitting Practice Redux"


Optimism and Pessimism

It is easy to be overcome by pessimism and the depression and anger it brings, when faced with the condition of the environment, terrorism, perpetual war, economic uncertainty and politicians and corporate leaders who have short range views and lack the courage to address long term issues.

How do we maintain hope without deluding ourselves?

Being optimistic is feeling that good things will happen and that the things we hope for will come to pass. Hope, positivity and confidence are synonyms. Being pessimistic is the opposite.


The pessimist will see the glass as half empty and the optimist half full.



Objectivity calls for a break with isms and dropping of beliefs and opinions in favor of an open mind that seeks facts to see things as they are. Objectivity is undistorted by personal feelings, prejudices or interpretations; experience with actual objects, conditions or phenomena; having reality independent of the mind or clouded perception.


Objectivity requires information. How was the glass just before it was half full or empty? Is it trending towards full or empty? Was it ever full? What were the conditions surrounding the glass? What kind of liquid is in the glass? 


There is a chain of events beginning with the recognition of a thought, physical sensation or situation. Feelings arise (Things are good, bad or neutral), emotions arise out of the feelings and our conditioned response to them, thoughts, speech and behavior arise out of emotions.


Our mental models, beliefs and conditioning drive the process.


How does it feel to have a half empty vs. a half full glass? Is it pleasant, unpleasant or neutral? Does that feeling manifest as emotion? Do the emotions lead to unskillful behavior? What mental models, habits, or beliefs are operating?


Objectivity is a step towards clarity and responsiveness as opposed to reactivity. Being objective requires that we are mindful of feelings and the internal responses to those feelings. Objectivity values facts and analysis over emotional attachment to ideas or outcomes. Objectivity makes it possible to accurately assess the situation and transcend the hope and fear that arise from optimism and pessimism and replace them with a skillful response that fits the needs of the situation. 



Being objective, however, is not enough. It is necessary to value acceptance.


Acceptance is different from just seeing or being aware of things as they are. Acceptance is awareness without wanting things to be different than they are. If the glass is perceived as half empty and there is anger or sadness about it, then there is not acceptance. Acceptance not only sees things as they are, acceptance allows them to be as they are without rejecting or trying to hold on to them.


Many people interpret acceptance as a passivity that does not allow for positive action for change. That is because they misunderstand what acceptance is and is not. Acceptance is focused on the past and the present moment, though not the future. Acceptance realizes that we are powerless to change the present moment and the past. However, we can change the future.


Healthy acceptance is a starting point for an objective view of what can be done to shape the future. If we do not allow ourselves to be convinced that current trends will inevitably continue, then we can take action to change the trends. When taking action, objectivity is necessary to choose the most effective course.


Visualize a Bright Future

An objective approach doesn't rule out faith in a positive outcome. Faith in the power of the parties to change their behavior and to adapt whatever the outcome fuels the effort to address the situation. But, it is not blind faith deluded by wishful thinking or belief in some magical intervention from above. 


The faith in a positive outcome fuels action. Imagine what it would have been like if all concerned believed that racial discrimination as it existed in the American South or South Africa was to be permanently the way things would be. The dream of a different kind of future fueled the struggle and the struggle bore fruit. Similarly, a vision of a future filled with peace, prosperity, environmental health is needed to fuel the work that needs to be done to make that vision a reality.


Giving up optimism and pessimism assess the situation objectively, accept it for what it is, decide upon your intention with sufficient faith in the outcome, apply the effort needed to act skillfully, and see what happens. As whatever happens unfolds, adjust and continue.


� 2014 George Pitagorsky                                     Top