The Philosophy of Optimism

To me, optimism is the great driver for growth in life. What is it that drives construction projects? Hope and promise of future tenants, and gains.

Or, what is it that I love most about weight lifting? The promise and hope and optimism that I will keep getting stronger.

Optimism and time

What hurts us in terms of optimism? I think it is a time thing. We are too much in a hurry in a rush, which ends up stunting our progress and growth.

For example, the ideal is to have indefinite forever gains, and not allow your potential growth or gains to be stunted. I think this is why a lot of capitalists prefer having less regulation, because they do not want their potential innovations and growth being slow down by the government. For example, Elon musk moving the Tesla headquarters to Austin, because the California government tried to close down his headquarters in factory during COVID-19.

Now the ethical question is this:

Should one but the lives of others and their health at risk, for the sake of achieving their grand life mission?

For example, does Elon Musk want the government to get in the way of him sending humans to Mars?

Another thought; is it worth injecting yourself with testosterone, human growth hormones, and steroids, knowing that you will become the greatest of all time, but, be permanently disabled for the next 50 to 60 years of your life? I think not.

Culture and pessimism, culture and optimism

For the most part, we are a manifestation of the times we were born and raised in. For example, if you grew up in communist Eastern Europe, let’s say Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, or maybe even Russia, you are probably more likely to be more “realistic“, pessimistic, and fatalist. Why is this? If you grew up in environment where things are insanely limited, and blocked off from the rest of the world, it is only natural to feel this way.

Or, let’s say you are the Vietnamese boat people, and fled the fall of Saigon. Certainly it makes sense that your family will be a little bit more risk averse, when seeking success in America.

How much can you control your optimism in life?

First of all, optimism is more of a philosophical thing. Whether you desire to follow it or not is up to you.

For myself speaking, I was born in 1988, in the very progressive and liberal bay area, and being Korean American, I am part hybrid of American individualism, meets Korean collectivism. I like this hybrid. If you look at me, I look Korean. But at the end of the day, my soul is more American.

Do you desire to become more optimistic?

Therefore the first question you should ask yourself is this:

Do I desire or care to become more optimistic?

For me, yes. Why? I think there is a link between depression and pessimism. I’m not sure which way the arrow goes, or if it is a correlation or causation thing. However, I think it is human nature to desire better days, a more prosperous future.

For example, there is this Vietnamese notion of “chieu kho”, which literally means endure difficulty or hardship. For example, watch “The Undeniable Force of Khó Khăn” Film”by Cindy Nguyen.

Certainly with the idea of being able to endure difficulty, pain or hardship is a good one, especially when your family is in poverty, and starving.

How and why are immigrants so optimistic?

“Why increase the sons of Africa by planting them in America, where we have so fair an opportunity, by excluding all blacks and [tawneys] Asians of increasing the lovely white?” – Benjamin Franklin, 1751

America is the land of opportunity. Even though America is racist, it is honestly still probably the best place to find a new opportunity. There are billions of people around the globe who are dying to just get a work or study visa in America.

It is a self selection thing. Consider, if you’re an entrepreneurial immigrant, leaving your own country, out of your own will, to seek better opportunity and growth elsewhere, it is a very optimistic thing. Therefore, the children of immigrants in America, often tend to be very entrepreneurial and optimistic, as their parents were. There might be both a biological and social component; maybe humans who are more risk loving ended up going to America more, and also, culturally speaking you could teach optimism to your kids.

How Americans get immigrants and refugees confused

The big differentiation: if you’re an immigrant, you came to America of your own free will. If you’re a refugee, you just didn’t want to die, and therefore, ended up in America or somewhere else, simply to avoid death, persecution, or imprisonment.

This is why certain people who are born in a certain nation, and do not really remember their immigration story end up being so shortsighted; if your family is escaping death, do you really have a “choice“, to go somewhere? No, unless you’re brain dead.

When you’re escaping death, or potential death, this is a must, a necessity. No choice.

Some good things about America

One of the good things about America is that to some extent, if you succeed in K-12 education, and high school, you could get into a good college or university, which will help with your social upward mobility. The tricky thing is if you were born into the projects, and all of your friends are drug dealers, and your parents are drug addicts, your chance and opportunity for upward growth is certainly hugely disadvantaged.

My analogy is this: if you started life at level zero, with no weapons, money, hit points, etc., versus if you were born in life at level 99 with all of the mythical weapons, who is probably going to succeed more? Probably the second person.

How intervention is good

Then, in America, some intervention is good. Then intervention of helping at risk youth, find more creative outlets, and opportunities to learn computer programming, get in college and get out the hood is a good one. Even when I think about my personal experience, there was a certain part in middle school, in the eighth grade, where a lot of my friends were joining gangs, doing drugs, selling drugs, and engaging in violent things. One of my great gratitude for my mom is moving to a nicer place, where I was no longer exposed to those bad things.

Which makes me think, maybe the best form of parenting is via negativa; not to give your kids a “good” education, or to expose them to “good things”, the best type of parent simply protects them from bad influences, bad environments, bad kids etc.

Perhaps the secret to optimism is avoiding pessimism

Pessimism is toxic. If you think about pessimism like COVID-19, if you spend enough time in close proximity to somebody with Covid, certainly you’re more likely to catch Covid.

Perhaps the same things with pessimism. If you live in an environment, or around people who are constantly pessimistic, they will negatively affect and poison you.

Even for myself, I found that actually, emotionally and socially I am very sensitive. And that even the smallest hint of negativity and toxicity from others affects me in a bad way.

Therefore financially, this is where I like me and Cindy living on their own, to avoid negative family influences.

Things to be optimistic about

I am the great heart bringer of optimism. Why? I see it practically from a result of my scars from the past, but also, through my own pragmatic reasoning.

First, the optimistic march of technology. The iPhone pro keeps getting better, and, more and more people are able to financially access it. Also, photography keeps getting greater. The Ricoh GR 3X, at around 900 bucks, is a quadrillion times better than my old canon DSLR. And about 100 times smaller and lighter.

Also, the upside of Google, Google Docs, Gmail, Google products etc levels the playing field for everybody. For example, how easy it is for any business to create a Gmail account for email, use Google Drive to share and host files, and also use Google photos for unlimited free storage.

Also, at this point, Wi-Fi is essentially free. It is almost impossible to not find free Wi-Fi somewhere.

And also getting a phone plan is pretty cheap now, even in America, I like T-Mobile. Or in developing parts of the world, getting a Sim card is quite cheap.

The Nuance

Social media, Facebook, etc. is a trap. It seems like currently, the least bad social media service is telegram, which allows advertisement free, and surveillance free communication between users, and also, being able to start your own channel. Even here in Cambodia, everyone uses telegram, over WhatsApp and Facebook messenger.

Now this is how people get trapped by Facebook, which owns WhatsApp and Instagram, etc. It is so easy to start an Instagram, and follow the path of just accumulating more likes and followers, and eventually selling your own products, we’re getting advertising deals. This is a trap.

The far more robust method is starting your own self posted website. Via, and purchasing and paying for your own domain.

However, to a lot of the developing world, even spending $10 a month is too much. Note that even here, a full-time restaurant worker might only earn $100 USD a month. They cannot afford $10 to spare.

Then perhaps, a good idea for the future is this:

Create some sort of service, or platform, which allows new users to create their own self branded .com website, for free. Perhaps initially it could be supported either by advertising or wealthy donors, but at least they have their own .com domain.

WordPress seems to be doing currently the best job at providing free website blogs with But it is through that annoying sub domain, which is

The more robust is domain, which can just be your first name, or your
For example, I own, and on top of that, built eric

And also in around 2017, Cindy shelled out about 1000 bucks to purchase for me.

Domains, domains are the future. I actually domains as digital real estate, and digital real estate becoming very very important.

Perhaps even into the future, the .NFT or .crypto domain will be useful.

Other ways to be optimistic

Difficult to talk about optimism, if I cannot pinpoint where you are from, or you live. However, if you’re an American, essentially at this point every single American, regardless of how rich or poor you are, can afford an iPhone pro. Apple has essentially became its own bank, and I think you could finance an iPhone pro for about 30 to 50 bucks a month. Effectively all Americans can afford this.

Now there are other things that are aspirational, like buying a Lamborghini, buying a house, etc. However, these are not essential, but superficial.

Therefore, the Internet is the future. Your own self hosted domain, server, website, is the future. If you have access to this, the Internet and you are the ultimate optimism.

How to feel more optimistic or boost your optimism from a physiological perspective

My simple solution: do “one rep max” deadlifts at least once a week. I recommend using a trap bar or a hex bar if your gym has it. If they do not, just use the straight bar and use sumo style. For your heaviest lift, just use the mixed grip and chalk.

The reason I do not recommend using a weightlifting belt or straps is that it is a crutch, and will hinder your future development, as those certain muscle groups will become less strong. For example, a lot of people are afraid of hurting their lower back, but if you use a trap or this is no problem. The reason I love the trap bar is that it puts almost no stress on your lower back, only about your mid back.

And also, if you want to become stronger, you need to improve your grip strength. Using straps for your hands and wrists might help you in the short run, but will prevent you from building your tenacity and grip strength.

Things to cut out of your diet

If you find yourself chronically depressed, or pessimistic and strive to become more optimistic I suggest think via negativa.

For example, experiment cutting out weed, alcohol, sugar, carbs, vegetables and fruit.

Instead, just eat red meat (beef), and bitter green herbs (kale, spinach, etc).

Don’t sit

Standing desk over sitting desk.

Also, more random walks outside to clear your mind. Leave the phone at the desk.

Unsubscribe from Netflix, Spotify, Amazon prime media, etc

I think media is bad for our health. Amazon prime tv, Netflix, Apple TV, Spotify, podcasts, etc.


It pollutes your mind with too much noise, which hinders your own thinking.

Even music can be a huge distraction.

What to do instead? Hit the gym without music or your phone. Or go on a simple hike. Or walk around the block. Or drive somewhere which allows walking — gasp, even the air conditioned mall! Or the outdoor mall (I love the Irvine Spectrum Outdoor Mall). Anything which allows for bright sunshine, walking, and physical movement is good.

Social ties

Your friends, your family! Better to spend money to meet a friend at an expensive restaurant than stay at home all depressed.

Read optimistic philosophy

  1. Stoicism: Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus
  2. Nietzsche

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