Zadra Creative Blog

Hard-wired for Hope

You have good reasons to be optimistic about the future.

father and son on sunset beachWe are living in troubled times, that’s for sure. But, there’s an ancient human power that is still alive and well in every corner of the world. Regardless of how difficult or discouraging life has become, there is still a persistent belief that the future will somehow be better than the past or the present. There is even a scientific name for this uniquely human trait; it’s called the “Optimism Bias.”

At it worst, the optimism bias can lead us to overly-positive assumptions such as, “I will lead a long healthy life even if I continue to skip routine medical check-ups.”

But, according to a Time Magazine study, the optimism bias also protects and inspires us; it keeps us moving forward in tough times, rather than throwing in the towel. Without optimism, our ancestors might never have ventured far from their tribes. We might still be cave dwellers, still huddled together in the dark, dreaming of light and heat.

Instead we have evolved into the only animal on earth whose brain is constantly contemplating the future. We are hard-wired for hope, progress, invention and the prospect of something new and better just around the corner. If better times don’t come, we’ll create them ourselves. That faith in creativity is in our DNA.

You are descended from a long line of human success stories. Somehow, your tenacious, optimistic, forward-looking ancestors found ways to invent ingenious tools and to survive 100,000 generations of famine, predators, wars and natural disasters. With a past like that, you have good reasons to be optimistic about the future. Hold on to that bias.

It’s easy to see why creative people and entrepreneurial companies tend to be die-hard optimists. To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities — better ones — and we need to believe with all our heart that we can actually create and achieve whatever we imagine.

Down through the ages, it has always been optimism that has moved us forward through thick and thin to find a better way. Optimism is a powerful, almost mystical creative thinking tool. As Helen Keller put it, “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an unchartered land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”

• Optimism is a force for good.
• Believe that the best is yet to be.
• Your belief will help create the fact.

An excerpt from the upcoming “Trust Your Crazy Ideas” book by Dan Zadra. To reserve your copy click on the box at right in the Trust Your Crazy Ideas block.

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