Tuesday, January 5
I go for a walk in the dark and, thirty minutes later, the sun begins to show itself.
I listen to episode 33 of No Stupid Questions in which Steven Dubner and Angela Duckworth discuss “Is optimism a luxury good?”. The questioner asks whether you can have optimism in a prsoner of war camp, or whether you need to have a lot of things in place already before you can realistically adopt an optimistic stance.
Angela Duckworth (who had Marty Seligman as her doctoral adviser) argues for two different kinds of optimism: one that she calls “Polyanna optimism” and the other which she calls “optimism of an agentic flavour”. The first says seomthing like “Don’t worry, it will stop raining in an hour or so”. The second one says something like, “Don’t worry, we can always play some board games if it doesn’t stop raining”. In other words agentic optimism looks to find something in the situation that you can change and then focuses on that rather than pretending that you possess an uncanny ability to bend everything to your will.
As I close in on the house and the start of my working day I pass a house in Sormuspolku which has a snow-covered three-wheeler truck in the garden, decorated for transporting or selling lemonade.
This doesn’t happen a lot.