Podcast Ep. 12 released

Do your surroundings overwhelm and hamper your life? Are you aware of how they impact your experience of working, playing, and living?

In this episode, Matthew outlines how to be conscious of the places and spaces within which we live our lives and how not to allow them to dictate to us. You can choose and shape everything about your life, including your character, your body, your relationships, your work, your style, and–of course–your environments.

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Podcast Ep. 11 released

Get on the same page with your friends, teammates, co-workers–and most importantly–your dearest ones to more fully achieve your goals and have fewer frustrating fights.

In this episode, Matthew discusses and illustrates why constant communication is paramount in “merging your values” with those whose lives are tied to your own, particularly your loved ones. He highlights the reasons why partnerships flounder and fail, and offers the constructive means by which successful associations (including couples) create a “culture” or “identity” towards joyful progress.

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Podcast Ep. 8 now released

In this episode, Matthew has fun dissecting the lyrics of a 2003 Ben Folds song, highlighting the wisdom within related to comparison culture. He discusses the repulsive nature of envy and bullying, and the futility of measuring one’s worth in relation to other people. See what messages you read in the sage words of Ben Folds. What’s your take?

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Enter at optimism

Estimated reading time 4 mins.

The following is a revised excerpt from my essay, “What is Objective Optimism?”, which you can read in full here. For a briefer introduction to Objective Optimism (OO), which is distinct from Pessimism and—more notably—from Subjective “Optimism” (SO), go here. For some illustrative applications of OO versus Pessimism and SO, go here.

In the Q&A of a mock panel discussion related to the topic of Pessimism versus Optimism in my university classroom this past semester, one student asked the “panelists” an excellent question: Does success lead to optimism or does optimism lead to success?

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Applications and illustrations of objective optimism

Estimated reading time 15 mins.

The following is a revised excerpt from my essay, “What is Objective Optimism?”, which you can read in full here. For a briefer introduction to Objective Optimism (OO), which is distinct from Pessimism and—more notably—from Subjective “Optimism” (SO), go here.

In my essay, “What is Objective Optimism?”, I take great pains to separate Objective Optimism (OO) from the subjectivist who evades awareness of real risk or downside and attempts to operate in a kind of “ignorance-is-bliss” euphoria. “It’ll all work out” is not a formula for optimal results and cannot properly be called optimism. I also repeatedly emphasize that the issue of optimism versus pessimism is not about accurately or inaccurately calculating probabilities, but rather, given the probable outcomes, upon what does one place one’s focus and how does one proceed in action?

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What is Objective Optimism? (an introduction and comparative table)

Estimated reading time 7 mins.

The following is a revised excerpt from my essay, “What is Objective Optimism?”, which you can read in full here. For some illustrative applications of Objective Optimism (OO) versus Pessimism and Subjective “Optimism” (SO), go here.

Optimism needs a new look

Optimism’s got a bad rap. It is associated with ignorance, naivety, and immaturity. A Morgan Housel article does well to highlight a few reasons why pessimism is sexy, but John Stuart Mill in any case identified the tendency over 150 years ago:

“I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs while others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.”

An optimist is an adorable but pitiful child who expects the best in the world until such a sage elder (or harsh reality) snaps them out of their foolish, idealistic notions and expectations. The child is an adult now, properly cynical and “realistic.”

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What is Objective Optimism?

Estimated reading time 53 mins.

Note: I am not a philosopher or psychologist nor any kind of expert in either field. But that doesn’t disqualify the following hypothesis as haphazard or necessarily invalid. I say simply that it corresponds with my experience, organizing without contradiction the successes and failures I’ve observed in other people and in my own life. Each aspect of my life improves to the extent I apply this framework, and it falters to the extent I stray from it.

In spite of all that, please consider the following a hypothesis and not a definitive proclamation. The method itself demands that I never cease to revise and reorganize my ideas into clearer and more precise concepts as I take on challenges from others (and myself) and as I live and learn. But I’ve been living and learning for a long while, and in this first “essay,” it is the most comprehensive formulation I can make to date.

Optimism’s got a bad rap. It is associated with ignorance, naivety, and immaturity. A Morgan Housel article does well to highlight a few reasons why pessimism is sexy, but John Stuart Mill in any case identified the tendency over 150 years ago:

“I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs while others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.”

An optimist is an adorable but pitiful child who expects the best in the world until such a sage elder (or harsh reality) snaps them out of their foolish, idealistic notions and expectations. The child is an adult now, properly cynical and “realistic.”

Continue reading

Matthew McConaughey thinks it’d be a lot cooler if you were selfish

Estimated reading time 27 mins.

“You’re not an Ayn Rand guy, are you?”

“Or are you?” Larry King adds quickly, allaying the tone of contempt and derision palpable in his first accusatory question.

Matthew McConaughey, his guest on Larry King Now, looking amused though slightly taken aback at the perceivable rancor, answers with a disarming smile, “I don’t know. I don’t think so.”

This brief exchange followed Larry’s reading of a quote from Matthew, in which he had said:

“I’ve got much more selfish. I’m a fan of the word ‘selfish.’ I am less concerned with what people think of me. I’m not worried about how I’m perceived. ‘Selfish’ has always gotten a bad rap. You should do for you.”

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Optimism is realism: Where’s your focus?

Estimated reading time 11 mins.

Part of the satisfaction I get from my work as the teacher of a Korean university English conversation class is sharing and discussing ideas I care about with young people. For some material, I often take an article, talk, or podcast I like and present it to students in the clearest way they can consume it, given their English proficiency levels and other factors. We might simply read the article or, more often, I might create a Prezi presentation and give a mini-lecture summarizing the material in understandable terms at an appropriate pace before we discuss the ideas.

Preparing one such lesson, I recently re-listened to a Human Flourishing Podcast episode titled, “Cultivating Appreciation.” In it, host Alex Epstein recounts his experiences with a trolley and Uber driver, respectively, and was struck at how both expressed through action and in words great joy and appreciation for their work and the environments in which they get to perform it. Alex goes on to say that he was struck by this mental approach, highlighting how what they chose to focus on shaped their experience of it. There are further valuable points made in the episode, but for this article, I only intend to piggyback on it up to here.

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There’s always someone cooler than you

Estimated reading time 16 mins.

The title may be familiar to some as the 2003 Ben Folds song it is. As a new experiment in my English conversation class this upcoming semester, I’m going to have students discuss these lyrics, while of course highlighting the lessons I take from it myself. As in many Ben Folds songs, the lyrics colorfully present a strong message, and I thought it would be a fun way to introduce a theme for discussion I think will prove relevant to them.

While comparing against others is a personal and social problem in Western countries, expressed (in one aspect) in the idiom “Keeping up with the Joneses,” Korea has its own distinct comparison culture. Korea is a hyper-modern economy that moves at warp speed. The uber-competitive education system centers all around scores and rankings based thereupon. And when they’re done with that, most feel enormous pressure at “getting a good job,” which means—if not a “doctor, lawyer, or judge”—at one of the bigger companies (e.g. Samsung, LG, Hyundai, etc.). Anyone can do the math to see that achieving this measure of “success” is not going to be a reality for almost everyone, so the stress is tremendous.

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