It's Tempting to Believe the Pessimists
But it's short-sighted.
“The continuous and perpetual existence of the human race is merely proof of its exuberance and wantonness.” — Arthur Schopenhauer
We seem to give a lot of air time to pessimists.
The planet is going to burn up! Inflation is out of control! A recession is looming!
The thing is, we can look at data points that support their predictions—or at least the trends.
“The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.” — George Will
It’s all too easy to buy into the doom and gloom. Data, that sultry temptress, lures us into abandoning hope and believing that our future is in a downward spiral.
The reason pessimists sound smart is that their faith is based on certainty—in things that have already happened or things at which they can definitively point.
How unimaginative. How uninspiring.
Arthur Schopenhauer is known as the philosopher of pessimism, and it was his contention that human intelligence is what causes human suffering. In other words, because, unlike other animals, we have consciousness, we realize that we can’t satiate all of our desires and we end up miserable.
The only alternative, he posited, is to turn away from our desires. Basically just give up.
What a downer he must have been at parties!
Pessimism, disguised as fear and anger, can motivate people too. But who wants to carry that around constantly?
Fortunately, we know a thing or two about hope: expressed with a vision and a goal, hope can motivate people.
Don’t give pessimists a chance to be proven right. Surprise them.
You may even surprise yourself in the process.
Four Ways to Stop Imagining the Worst Will Happen (Greater Good Magazine)
“For reasons I have never understood, people like to hear that the world is going to hell.” — Dierdre N. McCloskey, 2016
“If you say the world has been getting better you may get away with being called naïve and insensitive. If you say the world is going to go on getting better, you are considered embarrassingly mad. If, on the other hand, you say catastrophe is imminent, you may expect a McArthur genius award or even the Nobel Peace Prize.” — Matt Ridley, 2010
“Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1870
“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward
“Do you become discouraged easily, or do you bend to your advantage even the apparent ills of life?” — W.S. Holmes, 1915
Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.
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