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Harvard College Library
Aug. 28, 1916
THE ART OF OPTIMISM
AS TAUGHT BY ROBERT BROWNING
The world we live in is a world of mingled good and evil. Whether it is chiefly good or chiefly bad depends on how we take it. To look at the world in such a way as to emphasize the evil is the art of pessimism. To look at it in such a way as to bring out the good, and throw the evil into the background, is the art of optimism. The facts are the same in either case.
It is simply a question of perspective and emphasis. Whether we shall be optimists or pessimists depends partly on temperament, but chiefly on will. If you are happy it is largely to your own credit. If you are miserable it is chiefly your own fault. I propose to show you both pessimism and optimism ; give a prescription for each, and leave you to take whichever you like best: for whether you? are a pessimist or an optimist does n't depend on whether the world is wholly good or wholly bad, or whether you \have a hard lot or an easy one. It depends on what you like, and what you want, and what you resolve to be. Perchance you are the most fortunate and happy person among my readers. There are thousands of people who would be miserable were they situated precisely as you
They would make themselves miserable, because that is their temperament; that is their way of looking at things. And even in your happy and enviable con