An important message for those who want to survive anything life throws at them

Photo by Dev Asangbam on Unsplash

During the infamous Vietnam War, many American soldiers were captured as POWs and tortured brutally. POWs felt that the war would be over in no time and they would be rescued soon. Some said, “We’ll be home this Christmas”, others said, “I bet I’ll be celebrating Easter with my family”. Well, to put it mildly, they were wrong. It was years before anyone came to rescue these people. One of the rescued was Admiral James Stockdale, a high ranking Navy official.

“Who didn’t make it out?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”
“The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused,
given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier.
“The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by
Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then
they’d say,’ We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and
Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas
again. And they died of a broken heart.”

This is the dialogue between James Collin and the former VP candidate James Stockdale. This shows how we as humans have the capacity to hope for the best in the worst of times but more often than not, it clouds our sense of judgement. Instead of being realists, we tend to live in dreamland in an attempt to mentally escape the reality of the situation.

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” (The Stockdale Paradox)

I get it, we want everything to work out. We want to be rich, famous, successful, happy and have the ability to do just about anything we can imagine. But the reality is that you aren’t any of it. Sure, you could daydream about it but nothing besides that. You need to have the ability to see and assess the ground reality and make plans to overcome the difficulties you may face keeping in mind the end goal.

Confronting the problems at hand and understanding the situation is crucial if you want to accomplish the task at hand. Many of us have been locked inside because of the pandemic. We’ve seen the average mental health decline over the months. Everyone thought it would last for 2–3 weeks max, but it has been a year with no end in sight. Some people have taken the time to understand the situation which has pushed them miles ahead of the average Joe, in terms of say finance, health and fitness, relationships. They are the ones who knew and faced the reality and fought through it.

Like every school of thought like stoicism, martial arts, yoga, this thought or mindset isn’t something we’re born with. Man is nothing but the result of the deductions made from his/her experiences. Wise men, learn not only from theirs but also from those around them. You could choose to be wise and realistic by adopting the paradox into your life or you could be an optimist and live in dreamland, denying reality.




Student, CS enthusiast, love learning new things

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Albert Jokelin

Albert Jokelin

Student, CS enthusiast, love learning new things

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