How To Make Life Suck Less:
Overcoming Your Life’s Challenges
Using Russian Optimism
Russian Optimism is not just an oxymoron. It’s also comedian Ben Rosenfeld’s hilariously instructive motivational talk on how to embrace life’s problems by combining stoicism with levity – a.k.a. stevity – to help students persevere through life’s challenges by re framing the situation, embracing the struggle, and most importantly, lightening up without making light.
Ben shares dark Russian nursery rhymes to illustrate the Russian Optimism philosophy which says,
“I’m not gonna freak out, because things could be worse. In fact, I’m gonna laugh, because here’s how bad it could actually be.” While it’s also true that things could always be better, the question is, which mindset serves us more effectively? Ben says to focus on how it could be worse. Because realizing you’re nowhere near the bottom will cheer you up.
Maybe you’re saying, “Alright, so it could be worse, but my current situation is still pretty awful.” That’s where part two comes in:
You have to embrace the struggle. Instead of avoiding obstacles, you should embrace and enjoy them. Then you can find meaning in your suffering, and you can think, “How will this make me stronger in the long run?” Yes it will still suck in the short run, and that’s okay. Life is supposed to suck, at least occasionally. Ben’s point is, life will suck less when you know there’s something positive being created from each negative experience.
Ben’s last point is, have you ever thought something was a huge deal, but then a day, or a week, or a year later, you laugh at yourself for being so emotional about that same thing? Well then you might as well laugh as it’s happening. Because chances are, whatever is bothering you today, whatever has you upset or distracted, won’t matter a year from now. We’re gonna die one day, sorry to break it to you, so will this bad moment, or bad day, or bad week, really matter in five years? In ten? In a thousand? Might as well laugh it off as it’s happening then.
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