Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Virtues of Pessimism

Now those who know me or follow my work will be surprised to find me extolling the virtues of pessimism, but hear me out.  You’re applying to grad school, looking for a job, doing on-line dating, trying to get your article published…There are some ways in which not always thinking on the bright side can soften the blow.

Pessimism protects us from disappointment.  I might not get this job…win this game…get that acceptance letter.  If it happens that you do not, anticipating that outcome does seem to make it a bit easier to bear.  I’m not giving you permission to slack off, just permission to be realistic.

Pessimism helps us anticipate problems so we can take steps to correct things, i.e., defensive pessimism.  Maybe my resume could be more dynamic, my on-line profile might use a little tweaking or my article might do better in a different publication, which means I need to re-work it before sending it out.  All of these are good steps to take to avoid possible difficulties in the future.

Anticipating the worst helps us prepare for it.  Consider the difference between a shocking loss and one we’ve been expecting.  We can get ready emotionally for the tragedy we believe is coming instead of being blindsided.  Getting ready for the worst has practical implications…I’m not going to open that letter alone.  And it affects our emotional reactions as well…. I’m not going to open that letter alone.    A little anticipation can protect us from some of the pain associated with losses.

Truth be told, I have written about how to increase optimism by decreasing pessimism, and I stand by that.  It’s still true that optimistic people are healthier, more resilient and live longer.  But into every life a little rain must fall, and when it does, it really helps to have an umbrella handy.

Rain, The Beatles

1 comment:

Dulce Fuentes at The Bright Side Life Coaching, L.L.C. said...

Well said! And Love The Beatles quote as well...a little song always makes a good example.

I am a Life Coach in the Chicago area and would love any feedback you may have--on my blog, how to increase business, etc. My website is:
my blog is www.thebrightsidelifecoaching.blogspot.com. Thank you, and I hope you are having a lovelynight!