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How Americans can
Audience Speed Dating with Kevin Fay after Radiant Optimism by Frank Willens, 30.07.2019.
How real can it be when optimism like positive psychology gets a strategy? Or, in other words: Fake it till you make it?
I am a diehard optimist, so I was very excited to come for this show. It was a nice experience for me because it reminded me that radiant optimism doesn’t mean that everything needs to be perfect or beautiful. It can be bright, warm, and expressive in ways I don't personally know. Tonight, for instance, we saw five different artists working together, staying together. I would say some were more interesting or exciting for me to watch than others, but all were somewhere together. I’m not judging skills or work, really, because I enjoyed the performance very much, but I'm mentioning this sense of personal preference as part of my experience. The skills and the people were different and this fact created, for me, a group task. Sometimes, I was anxious about how it would work out or what it would look like as a piece about „radiant optimism", and it made me connect with my own anxiety towards politics and change in our world. But then, as it continued and persisted in bright, refreshing, or surprising ways, I relaxed, and I thought: Let it be. Let it be what it is because I don't know all that it is when I am only watching.
Why do you say you are a diehard optimist? Did you have to learn that?
Well, positive psychology was very present in my upbringing as a child in the United States of America. You know, for instance, how Americans can smile very easily?
You sucked it all in?
Oh God, it’s deep. It’s so deep – especially in my family. Wow! We can be very happy, optimistic people even when things are not so good.
Do you admire that or do you also revolt against it?
I hesitate to use the word revolt, but I guess in some ways, I revolt against a pervasive culture of positive psychology when it means disregarding my emotions, needs, or concerns for the sake of a good impression or someone else’s social comfort. Remaining wholly optimistic in the face of uncertainty, discomfort, or pain can block things that need to be seen, heard, or felt, and I think positive psychology has the potential to be self-destructive and distracting – especially when it's strongly emphasized in a culture.
Means optimism is more inclusive than positive psychology?
Yes, for me, it’s about finding the energy you need to continue, to persist with a kind of collective joy or hope and not smiling everything away.