A Reply to Kahlil Gibran’s Observation about Optimism and the Rose

“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose.” – Kahlil Gibran We might reply… “The wise see the whole rose, appreciating all aspects of its beauty without injury.” It’s interesting that it is easy to find a Creative Commons picture of a rose without thorns or a picture of thorns without the rose, but somewhat difficult to find a picture in which both the flower and the thorns are visible. The quote from Kahlil Gibran, its popularity, and this casual observation about the pictures available, all point to one of our culture’s primary approaches to life: see only the “positive” and avoid or deny the “negative”. But, as my reply to Kahlil implies, seeing the whole rose is not only more beautiful but causes less suffering as well. As a psychologist, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of doing the same for all aspects of ourselves and each other (though this is not always easy). For related conversations, see this article on Unrealistic Optimism, this audio story about ignoring canaries in the name of positivity and being present, and this post about intimacy (as opposed to avoidance) strategies. Feature picture source: CC BY-SA 2.0, chefranden

Deal with Reality Skillfully

So-called positivity often prevents us from dealing with reality early, often, and skillfully with kindness. Witness our response to climate change and COVID.

That’s where my training, Kindness for a Change, comes in. It’s the only training that integrates individual wellbeing, connected relationships, healing our politics, and healing our planet.

3 thoughts on “A Reply to Kahlil Gibran’s Observation about Optimism and the Rose”

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