Are You a Possibilitarian?
I ran across this word today - possibilitarian - and it has become my new descriptor!
As far as I can tell, the word first appeared in Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power of Positive Thinking, published in 1952:
“I challenge you to become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities — always see them, for they are always there.”
Here's where I differ from his invitation to become one. We already ARE possibilitarians, but most of us don't know it or are wary about tapping into it.
There's a well worn phrase most of us have heard: we can either see the glass half full or half empty. If we see the glass half full, then we already qualify as possibilitarians, because we know there's more available to us than simply meets the eye, and we know that when we put our minds to it, we'll find the solutions we need.
Maybe you've been conditioned to believe you are limited in your capabilities, or maybe you've had difficult personal challenges that led you to conclude you can't do something, that you're not qualified enough or talented enough or smart enough or that you need to defer to the "experts". But how on earth would you know what you're capable of if you didn't first try your hand at it??
If there's any insecurity lurking in us, we often say no before we say yes because we doubt what we're capable of. But I think the way to realize our "possibilitarian-ness" is to start by doing a quick inventory to see how in so many ways and in so many circumstances we've already acted on past possibilities and made something we could claim as "yes, I did that!"
It's a simple act of remembering. Who hasn't had the experience of recycling and repurposing, making a meal out of leftovers, or creating something from not much of anything and having it turn out surprisingly well. Maybe you hiked a mountain, learned to swim, did a bicycle tour, wrote a business plan, learned how to dance, started a business, wrote a book, published an article - the list is endless. And they all point to your innate possibilitarianism.
Why would anyone ever think they couldn't do something before they gave it a whirl? Look at how children learn to walk: they get up, they fall down, they get up again, they take a few steps, sometimes they cry, sometimes they laugh. But they persist.
Now, I will admit that when children are small they can be fearless and are willing to tackle almost anything because they're curious and open. As we get older, we're talked out of many things by our parents, our schools, our churches, our government - often in the name of safety but often at the cost of our own independence and self reliance.
But isn't it high time to take back your own possibilitarianism? By doing so you can begin again to connect with that innate sense of creative potential that is only limited when we tell ourselves it is. There is always a way to solve a problem or a challenge. It may take longer than we wish, or require resources or skills or talents we may have to outsource or collaborate with in order to get the possible into the manifest, but as Shakepeare said, "it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
And an increased sense of love is one of the benefits of being a possibilitarian. Love for the game, for the joy of creation, love for the talents and skills that are waiting within us to live life to the fullest and enjoy the time we have on this earth. This love becomes something we can experience for ourselves and share with others: encouraging them, too, to experiment, have adventures and discover that we all have far more left within ourselves than we ever dared dream.