Optimistic Nihilism: the positives of being negative

31 January 2018

Optimistic Nihilism: the positives of being negative

Image credit: Peanuts Worldwide LLC

If you have read some of my other articles, I’m sure you may have come to the realisation that my opinions and views can be quite negative and depressing. Although it may be true that I usually hold a pessimistic outlook on life, and that my expectations and hopes for humanity are currently at an all-time low; I personally am actually quite happy. I am entirely content with my personal life and the way things have turned out for me.

The concept of optimistic nihilism can be quite confusing to some, but it best describes the line of thinking that I tend to hold. Even though I truly believe that humanity’s time is limited and quickly coming to its end – whether it be through nuclear war, climate change, or any of the other countless ways we are dooming ourselves – and even when the news coming out everyday is nothing short of horrific, I remain happy with my life.

Youtube channel Kurzgesagt explains this concept of optimistic nihilism further and in greater detail in this video.

Essentially, the negative thoughts that cross my mind constantly and the issues, flaws, and dangers I see within this world on a daily basis have caused me to have a nonchalant view of my existence. Instead of fearing my demise, or allowing this negativity to consume me, I realise that the universe is much bigger than myself, and my existence is probably not all that significant in the grand scheme of things.

It is this reasoning that allows me to believe that nothing really matters, and the only thing I should be worrying about is enjoying the time that I do have while I’m here.

In a world where we appear to be surrounded by negative news and conflict, I feel that optimistic nihilism is an important view to keep in mind. It is very easy to fear the world, however, I grew to realise that fearing what you have no control over is no healthy way to live.

The news was something I used to fear. I would avoid it at all costs in attempt to spare my mind from the tragedy that would most certainly be depicted. However, with age I began to understand that avoiding the news did not mean that it was not still occurring, and with this realisation I grew to enjoy analysing the news and discussing the many problems that we face in our modern world.

Fear turned to curiosity, and from that curiosity grew discussion, and I now realise that our fear of what may happen can create a dangerous ignorance, as we try to avoid the facts and what is really going on in our world. Even though we may believe that we have little impact, and that there isn’t much we can do to heal this world, I believe it is still important to remain conscious and aware of our environment.

So often we get caught up in our own worlds, believing our problems and inconveniences matter more than they really do. We hold our own lives at such high esteem, thinking we are the centre of the universe, when in reality none of us are that important. People allowing their whole mood to be tarnished, because they were kept on hold for an hour while someone on the other side of the globe is without water, shelter, or food, has always been an interesting dichotomy to me.

The fact that I have been blessed with the life I am so lucky to have definitely makes it easier to remain so optimistically nihilistic. Rather than being mad that I have been kept on hold for an hour, I would calm myself and appreciate the fact that I have a phone in the first place, and then realise that my minor issues are really insignificant and mean nothing to anyone anywhere else in the world.

So, it is this realisation that nothing on this Earth really matters, along with an appreciation for the things I do have that allows me to maintain a happy and positive demeanor through life, despite my immensely negative brain. Sure, I still feel down at times, but allowing my mind to drift while thinking about the massive scale of the universe and how small I really am in this whole thing always provides me with a strange, sombre happiness.

So next time you think you’re having a bad day because you got caught in traffic and spilled your coffee – just remember that no one really cares, that you will die some day; and that once you do, you will be forgotten, and the universe will continue to expand endlessly without us, without ever giving a second thought about our trivial existence on this tiny, rocky planet.

So, appreciate the things you do have, help each other out, and try to make everyone else’s meaningless existence a little easier.