The New York Times defines Tragic Optimism as the ability to maintain hope and find meaning in life despite its escapable pain, loss and suffering. Just as the pandemic has had a surge of feelings for all of us, the despair, worry, and terror can be overwhelming. The main point of the article was to remind us to find the good in the simple things. Feeling the wind on our face, standing in the sunshine and closing our eyes to soak it in, really listening to friends and family, these are the little actions we can take to remind us to be thankful with what we have instead of finding what we don’t.

Sad Woman | Gauguin Painting
Sad Woman | Gauguin Painting by Rijksmuseum is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

The BBC notes that Tragic Optimism is ‘the antidote to toxic positivity’. Is this the secret elixir we were all looking for? Our mental health has been through the wringer and we need a break already! Stop Fox News! Although I do appreciate seeing the statistics the constant fear mongering in media has to stop. But unfortunately they are for-profit institutions that make money off of our click bait. Oy vey!

Viktor Emil Frankl was a PHD. and Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor. Reason And Meaning notes that Tragic Optimism is remaining optimistic in through the tragic triad of pain, guilt and death. The human condition is to feel the feelings and we all need to feel them to get through any struggles that may arise.

The reality is that when we do not deal with negative emotions it gets worse and worse as we bottle it up.

The complexity and raw emotion of Emo music can really help us tap into our Tragic Optimism. Here are some Emo lyrics to help us tap into our Tragic Optimism.


  • It’s four o’clock in the fucking morning and each day gets more and more like the last day. The Used, The Taste Of Ink
  • I’m falling down. And you’re not here to break my fall. Thursday, How Long Is the Night?
  • I am a nightmare and you are a miracle. Brand New, I Am a Nightmare
  • Our love was lost. Your heart turned cold and that was when I let you go. I let you go. Being As An Ocean, OK
  • Love must be just for idiots. I’m shutting down, breaking down. Kill Hannah, Why I Have My Grandma’s Sad Eyes
  • The mirrors lie, those aren’t my eyes. Destroy them. Raise my hand; reflected in savage shards. Sunny Day Real Estate, Seven
  • Your ray of light will fizzle out without hope. AFI, Miss Murder
  • Honestly? Honestly I can’t remember, all my teenage feelings. And the meanings. American Foot ball, Honestly?
  • Besides, I’d rather forget the days we spent than try to stay afloat in shallow water. Saves The Day, My Sweet Feature
  • The more I try, the more I lose. A Static Lullaby, The Shooting Star That Destroyed Us
  • I know you well enough to know you’ll never love me. Taking Back Sunday, Cute Without the “E” (Cut From the Team)
  • Why can’t I feel anything from anyone other than you?” Taking Back Sunday, Cute Without the “E” (Cut From the Team)

Have you heard of Toxic Optimism before? I just heard this new term today, and it’s a whole world for me.

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