Agathism: The Best Way to Live Our Lives
Always having hope.
Posted November 22, 2011
After 14 years of driving the same vehicle, I finally decided that I needed a new car, ultimately opting for a lease. You're not supposed to put too many miles on a leased vehicle. Since I have a fairly lengthy commute back and forth from work, putting a substantial amount of miles on my lease was inevitable. Towards the end of the contract, my wife and I switched vehicles. She drives very few miles per day, and thus would not add significant mileage to the leased car, and since we owned her car, it didn't matter how many miles I was going to put on it. Just before my leased car was due to be returned, my wife was backing out of the driveway with it and didn't see a car behind her. She hit the car, causing damage to both vehicles.
The Car Crash Was a Good Thing
What do we do when bad things happen? My wife and I could have been angry at one another and fought about the extra cost of fixing the vehicles. This incident could have kept us from being happy, but it didn't. We felt disappointed, of course, but a little disappointment happens in life! We realized this and thus we were able to move forward.
When my wife took the car to be repaired, the mechanic informed her that most people, when their leases come due, purchase and then resell the vehicle. Since this was the first time we had ever leased, we were unaware of this fact. I investigated and found out that the pay-off price of the lease was far less than what the vehicle was actually worth. Armed with this information, I purchased the car and ended up selling my car with a profit.
Pessimism, Optimism, or Agathism
Bad things sometimes occur in life, and we have three choices regarding how to address them. Choice number one is to be pessimistic, negative, and upset. Choosing this path makes us feel sad and unhappy and can lead to an unsuccessful life. Obviously, I do not recommend taking this approach! Conversely, we can be optimistic; we can believe that everything will be well and deem everything to be great and wonderful. This course of action is, obviously, a much better approach for our mental health than pessimism. Optimism helps us to look at events in a brighter, more positive way. However, the danger of being optimistic is that we often don't sufficiently deal with our feelings. If we are overly optimistic, we risk taking an unreal approach, pushing away our true feelings before they are adequately addressed. It is entirely appropriate that when something bad happens, we feel it. When the leased car was wrecked, of course I felt disappointed and even a little angry! I allowed myself to feel upset, but I did not let myself take out my frustration upon my wife; instead, I dealt with my emotions and realized that I had to let go of any lingering negativity. The third choice regarding how to deal with life's unfortunate occurrences, and the way I recommend we live life, is to take what I call an agathist approach. An agathist is someone who believes that in the long run, even though bad things sometimes happen, everything will eventually work out for the best.
Have Hope! You Never Know What Will Happen...
Taking an agathistic approach is really a great way to lead a happy life. We agathists fully experience our emotions, always remaining kind toward others. After the troublesome event has passed, we watch calmly as things mostly turn out well. As long as we keep an agathistic approach to living, we learn lessons and we grow. By expecting that things will ultimately turn out well, they often do. Now, I am not negating these bad and unfortunate things that sometimes happen to us. But when something bad happens, it doesn't mean that life is over, or that we should resign ourselves to giving up! We must hang in there, remembering that it is always the darkest just before the dawn. The sun will surely rise, and things will begin to get better.
The way in which we think about things really matters! When we are experiencing tough times, we need to remember to have hope, and to believe that in the long run, things can turn out well. We must remember to take an agathistic approach. This approach allows us to be true to our emotions, to experience them, and importantly, to not deny that they exist. It is good to experience our feelings and to live our lives. Try to believe that in the end, negative events may actually turn into something good. Be open to the possibility that there may be a lesson to learn, an opportunity for growth, or an unexpected positive outcome.