“Do you admire men of principle? That would depend, I suppose, upon what set of principles you’re speaking of.” Well. Don’t you find that principles inject an almost moribund inflexibility in the people who subscribe to them?”

The Hollow Men


“People do not seem to realise that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


I know optimists, pessimists, utopians, dystopians, skeptical, cynical and everything in-between. I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the bleak in the world seems more appealing to far more people than the hopeful. Regardless. Ralph has a point. Your opinion of the world is a glimpse into your character, or at least, how you go about your own business of the business of living life. And maybe that is something to reflect upon a bit. If you buy into the thought of an indifferent but bleakish, more unkind than kind, world, more than even thinking about doing or not doing, we should be thinking about the world in which WE reside, exist, survive or get the life sucked out of us. In other words, how we control our environment, i.e., the context in which we will have to make all those 30,000 daily choices. Uhm. In this case context is mindset.

So, the thought here is if the world is indifferent than it is also malleable to context – not the overall arc. In other words, you can shape, in some form or fashion, your situation. Not everything, but some things. In fact. I would argue that this is also a sliding scale in that in some situations you can control a shitload and in others you are hanging on for dear life to the few things you can control. But. Control is control and, especially if the world in indifferent, controlling some shit is better than controlling no shit.

Which leads me to controlling your attitude.

Here is a weird thought. Many people find the thought of the world being indifferent, well, an uncomfortable thought. So, they actively seek out narratives to explain the world in some weird ways. While the truth is that the world is increasingly complex and increasingly difficult to ‘see’ causes while there are hurricanes of effects buffeting us, we seek simplicity and simple answers. Its natural. But if your ‘simplicity’ is always zero-sum world, dystopia, greed, all the bad stuff, your simplicity is like exponential gravity and the arc of your world resides in a pretty dark place. I am not suggesting you immediately swing into some Pollyannish head space, but if you don’t believe things can be better, well, it is unlikely to get better.

“because of you the days to come will be better than the days before this one.”

Which leads me to failing.

In my mind, having an opinion of the world and your opinion of failing, or failure, has a direct connection. In Choose the Right Word by Hayakawa (almost my bible of word descriptions) “failing” fell under Flaw <wow … I could write an entire book over that little insight>. Flaw has a variety of aspects: blemish, defect, failing, fault, foible, imperfection, mar, shortcoming.

Regardless. Failure is a reflection of a flaw.

An imperfection (which seems okay).

A defect (which seems not okay).

Is failure a reflection of a defective product <product being, well, us – human, person>?

That seems harsh. Ok.  Maybe extreme. But. Maybe a bit true with regard to the context of opinion of the world. Yeah. In terms of “truth to oneself and how you shape your opinion of the world” think about this:

‘imperfection’ points more often to a lack that may be a matter of opinion



Failure, on the other and, suggests a more severe shortcoming that has more severe consequences.

How ‘bout that? That kind of suggests if you have a failure in seeing the world in a positive way it will, well, have some severe consequences. That said. I do believe we should be better at understanding we have failings and they have consequences.

Now. Notice. Hayakawa never, anywhere, attached “negative” or “bad” adjectives to consequences. He simply points out that failures suggest shortcomings leading to consequences.

And that, my friends, is a Life truth.

We fail. The world fails.

It does not mean you are a failure nor does it mean the world is a failure.

And that is where I will end because I tend to believe if your opinion of the world is grounded in that last sentence, I tend to believe not only your own character will be just a bit less bleak but the world will inevitably be a little less bleak place to live. Ponder.


“every one of us stands alone on the heart of the earth,

Transfixed by a beam of sun;

And suddenly it is evening.”

Salvatore Quasimodo

Written by Bruce