William Lyon Phelps stated that if you believe something strongly enough it becomes achievable, even the goals deemed impossible by the majority. While Bertrand Russell states that opinions should be viewed with partial doubt. The contrast between the two is evident as one supports the belief of virtually anything being achievable while another takes a more realistic approach when thinking. I would have to agree with Bertrand, if Phelps’s claim were to be true we wouldn’t see the wide gap between wealthy and poor, intelligence and ignorance, victors and failures. People may believe they will achieve a certain status within their lives, but that doesn’t mean it will happen as it is merely a belief — a fading, ephemeral thought.
Although, believing heavily can help propel someone to their goal, much more is required. A person needs determination, work, and in many cases luck. I like to see luck as the advantages you are born with or given to without placing any considerable effort to achieve. This includes being born into a family with great fortune, born gifted/intelligent, etc. This ties in with optimism bias as people constantly enter fields/events with immense hope that it will end up a certain way, an amazing way. Many can relate to this sense of optimism when it comes to New Years. As the day comes only once in a year and is painted in celebratory light. Many people see/hear of these large festivities occurring at the time and how enjoyable the time is, but when the time comes it appears less extravagant than previously hoped. A tremendous build up followed by a less than sublime climax is sure to lead to disappointment.
This brings me right along to my next point on determination. Many hopeful individuals who experience such dream crushing events fall into a state of sadness and questioning of one’s worth, however that is not practical way to react in such circumstances. As life will continue to move on and by clinging to one failure you are averting any opportunities that may have arose since the tragedy. This is where I can see Phelps’s claim as being more meaningful. If the belief you have in accomplishing that one special task is great enough and remains as strong as the peak one will be able to find more opportunities thus increase chance of success.
It is difficult to state one is better than the other, as both coexist to form the world we reside in. People must be doubtful in times of minute chance and astronomically large adversaries and optimistic in face of a far goal or taken risk. People fluctuate throughout the spectrum and that is what is best.