Clearly It’s Very Fashionable To Be Pessimistic These Days

I’d like to suggest an alternative that will recognize the problems we experience but in a way that points to a lighter path forward.

Richard Banfield
3 min readJan 19, 2023
Artwork from my recent series “Tension,” which explores the positive dynamic between opposites.

It appears the very terms and conditions of social media platforms require us to complain and argue about everything. Life is apparently awful and we should all make it more miserable by piling on with our comments and opinions.

I would like to make a case for something else: optimism.

Not the positive-thinking-in-spite-of-reality type of optimism, but the acknowledgement that imbedded in each challenge is a lesson that is begging for you to pay attention.

If you follow me, you will know that I have a lot of reasons to be pessimistic. In the last few years I’ve experience enough losses for multiple lifetimes. I lost my beautiful wife to cancer, lost a coworking business to Covid, nursed my dad through a triple-bypass, and stood by as my best friend also lost his wife to a rare cancer. And yet I can honestly say that I am optimistic.

Why am I optimistic? Because embedded in every shitty moment is opportunity to learn something about myself, the people around me and my place in the world. I’m growing.

It’s easy to be pessimistic. The packaged lines simply roll off the tongue. “Life’s not fair.” “I don’t deserve this.” “We live in a divided and messed up world.” “Nobody cares anymore.”

I wonder what it might’ve been like to live in my grandparents time when they were facing actual world wars, devastating disease, and poverty that left several family members dead. Even my father, a single generation ago, experienced preventable disease and family trauma we would find appalling today. But they persisted.

If I acknowledge every moment as meaningful then every moment has something useful to teach me. It’s been my experience that if I don’t heed the lesson, it’ll just show up again wearing different clothes. Honestly, I’m getting too old to get stuck in that pointless spin cycle.

For me, leaning into each new challenge with curiosity has become a practice that fuels my optimism.

Why is this showing up now?

How am I complicit in the things that I say I don’t want?

What would happen if I took 100% responsibility for this situation?

If I embrace this pain with gratitude, how will that transform my life?

What lesson can I take from this painful situation?

These questions break the cycle of my own inner monologue of doom and gloom. Yeah, I have that irritating voice in my head too.

Each of us faces challenges differently and I don’t pretend that my approach is better than any other way. All I know is that optimism is where I’m most likely to learn and move forward towards something better.

I want to persist.

You can see more of my original art and prints at



Richard Banfield

Dad, artist, cyclist, entrepreneur, advisor, product and design leader. Mostly in that order.