Most pessimists do not think of themselves
as pessimistic. They think optimists are fools who are out of
touch with reality. Pessimists, especially the ones who take
pride in their pessimism, think the only sensible way to be is
pessimistic and cynical. However, you'll never catch one calling
himself a pessimist. As far as he is concerned, he's a realist.
So the question is, "Is it realistic
to be pessimistic?" Is it realistic to look at the downside
of every situation? Is it realistic to try to see what's wrong,
what won't work, and what can be criticized about people and
circumstances? Is that a practical, effective, productive mode
The answer is: Only when trying to decide
on a risky venture. Otherwise, the answer is definitely no. Pessimism
leads to depression,
contributes to heart
disease and cancer, kills joy, ruins marriages, and impairs one's ability to accomplish. Why? Because
a person's point of view can influence reality, not in some mysterious
way, but directly.
For example, I once knew a woman who said
many times, "All men are pigs." This is a pessimistic
stance. And because she believed it, she treated men like pigs.
And they responded piggishly.
In many ways, whatever position you take
will tend to become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you take the
pessimistic position that you can't do something, or that there
are no opportunities available, or the competition is too stiff
and you'll never make it, any of these can make you feel defeated.
Those points of view can suck the motivation out of your limbs.
And because you feel demoralized, you don't have a lot of energy
and you don't try to find a way. The result is: You will never
make it. Not because you can't, but because you are convinced
you can't. Your point of view has altered reality, not in a mysterious
or mystical way, but directly.
In other words, to be truly realistic,
you'd have to take into account the entire real situation, which
is that you and your opinion influence the world, and to take
a pessimistic stance on something often makes it that way. In
other words, pessimism is unnecessarily counterproductive and
self-defeating. Habitual pessimism is unrealistic.
If you or someone you know thinks pessimistically,
those thought-habits can be changed and it isn't difficult to
do. If you think, "I could never change my thought-habits,"
that is your first pessimistic thought to change. Start here: