by Matthew Boulton: Student of human flourishing and proponent of objective optimism
Ideas, stories, experiences, and other content related to self-esteem, mental health, and happiness. To live and flourish, one must first be convinced that one is worthy of living, worthy of happiness. This is self-esteem, and it is a crucial value we all must earn.
Should I save now to have for later? Spend now for life experience at the expense of one’s future security? How much either way? And then spend on what? Acquiring things or experiences? And then at what balance? These are all questions one must answer for oneself, and there is no “right way” to live.
But depending on the answers, there is something that comes across in how much we experience in life in how much grace we carry ourselves with and in how we deal with others. It shows through in one’s carriage and being, so that we in effect “wear” that experience. It is also revealed to ourselves when no one else is looking in how much we are truly satisfied with the experience of our own lives.
Matthew’s wife said that while she used to spend much of her salary on designer bags and clothes, she now prefers to “wear her experience,” and he shares their discussion about that theme in today’s episode.
Does success lead to optimism or does optimism lead to success?
Matthew’s university classroom was divided, although none doubted the correlation. They were all ready, then, to accept the idea of a “virtuous circle.” But a question remains: Where can one enter the circle?
What stories are we telling ourselves and the people we love? Are they serving us or hurting us? And them?
In today’s show, the power of story is made alarmingly clear—I mean powerful at the neurochemical level, and I mean alarmingly in that many of us are mostly passive in allowing old, unchecked, and disempowering stories about ourselves drive us—and not anywhere we want to go.
At minimum, you will leave this interview feeling confident and optimistic about yourself, your world, and the prospects in it, as Christmas Hutchinson convincingly reminds each of us that we’re worth more than we give ourselves credit for. Not a little more…way more.
Why do some people thrive in the face of hardship while others are crushed? To this challenging listener question, Matthew answers essentially that it’s about building resilience through the method of optimism versus the default of passive pessimistic resignation. On a deeper level, it’s about free will (optimistic) versus determinism (pessimistic).
Are we basically good or evil? How can we transcend our culture of “blame and shame”? Why do we give away our power to others? How can we be less reactive and more proactively responsible for our own actions and well-being? What does it mean to take full ownership for our circumstances, and why is this empowering? What are the physical benefits to mindfulness training, on top of the obvious mental and emotional benefits?
Whether you’re depressed or not, none of us are operating in perfect mental health. And in any case, we all need to be better educated for those around us who may be struggling and for whom we might make a difference. Lewis Page, successful and respected soccer coach, loved father, husband, friend, and all-around popular and healthy guy, does not fit one’s typical image of what depression looks like. Yet he lives with it.
In this early milestone 50th episode, Matthew reflects a bit by sharing a brief history as to why he proceeded to call the show “Mr. Bright Side,” knowing full well that it would always be confused with the 2004 mega-hit Killers song. He also shares a few personal stories over the years which have reflected back to him his natural tendency to optimism and enthusiasm, long before he ever developed his mature and formal philosophy. Listeners can take a lesson in self-awareness from these reminiscences.
At what age does one become a fully-formed individual? One modern-day comedian and one sage character from a short story published in 1939 have both offered a similar magic number. How is that two people from distinctly separate eras and experience have both identified the same thing?
How does charity fit into a life dedicated to gaining—not surrendering—values? If healthy human relationships are about win-wins, and charity is about gaining nothing for oneself, then is it good? And why do many of us feel so unfulfilled after engaging in sacrificial charity, if it’s the right thing to do?