Have you ever wondered if it’s better to be pessimistic than optimistic? Keep reading to find out the advantages to being pessimistic!
““Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” - Charles R. Swindoll
As we go through our daily lives, often, we find ourselves caught in unexpected situations, which force us to come up with answers to face difficult circumstances. Therefore it's important to have the right attitude when we’re facing these situations. There are two kinds of people: the optimistic person and the pessimistic person.
Being an optimist means you tend to view things favourably and always hope for the best outcome, whereas being a pessimist means that you tend to expect the worst. Many times, people look to the optimists for their positive outlook which often results in a common perception that pessimists contribute nothing but negativity when dealing with life.
Personally, I think that acknowledging the possibility of the worst outcome of things is as important as expecting the desired outcome. No matter which perspective you choose to believe in, they each have their own advantages. With that said, can pessimism be useful? Here are three reasons why pessimism isn’t entirely a negative thing.
First of all, being pessimistic means we’re usually looking at the down side of things, expecting the worst outcome to happen which may make us seem negative. However, this can be positive as in turn, it makes us aware of the possibilities of how things can go wrong, thus helping us to anticipate and be prepared for the worst. If we’re worried that something bad may happen, we can then take preventive action to avoid them from happening.
Say we’re about to go outside for a walk, a pessimist would assume that it might rain even though it looks pretty sunny outside, so you’d bring along an umbrella. On the other hand, an optimist would probably just appreciate the fact that it’s a sunny day and hopes for it to remain sunny all day.
Though it could be sunny the whole day, a pessimist would always be prepared in case it rains. And if it does, the pessimist is ready with an umbrella.
Secondly, as pessimists often expect the worst, we generally don’t expect things to turn out good or achieve the desired outcome. Therefore, we’ve a lower expectation towards things or how things will turn out. A person with low expectations hardly gets disappointed, as they didn’t have high expectations in the first place to be disappointed. We’ve set our bar so low, it’s very hard for someone to surprise us.
This can be explained with a very relatable example. We’re often paired up with coursemates during group assignments and chances are you might be paired up with someone you’ve never worked with before. Therefore, as a pessimist, you’d expect your teammate to not hand in quality work and hence, when they turn in their work as you expected, you’re not disappointed because you’ve expected it.
But if it turns out better than expected, pessimists can be very appreciative as our expectations have been exceeded. For optimists, they’d probably hope that their members would come up with excellent work. So, if it ends up worse than expected, it’d take a bigger toll on their mental well-being and would be more disappointing compared to pessimists who’ve already expected it.
But that doesn't mean we don't expect perfection... which leads me to my next point…
Lastly, pessimism leads to perfectionism. When we create something such as an art, pessimists will always attempt to perfect the art. This is because when we pessimists create an art, we’d often deem it unworthy and think that it’s not perfect enough, so we’d attempt to improve it repeatedly until we’re satisfied.
When I was writing a story the other day, I felt like the storyline wasn’t interesting enough, so I kept rewriting the script over and over again, until it seemed perfect to me. That said, there are optimists who’re also perfectionists who just want to make things to perfection.
But, it’s more naturally occurring among pessimists to think this way as we often deem that things aren’t good enough and so, we’ll keep working on it. That’s until the loss of motivation hits us or we’re satisfied with what we made, whichever comes first
With all the points presented above, it can be inferred that pessimism can be advantageous and even bring something good out in our daily lives. It doesn’t necessarily have to be entirely negative.
There’s a famous rhetorical phrase asking “Is the glass half empty or half full?”, an optimist would say it’s half full but the pessimist would say it’s half empty. There’s no right or wrong, the only difference is our point of view. Heck! There are even many other viewpoints such as realism and scepticism to name a few. No matter if you’re an optimist or a pessimist or identify with other characteristics, you decide your own way to deal with life.
Be you, be cool.
Victor Wong is currently pursuing a Bachelor in Software Engineering at Taylor's University. He is also developing web applications and practising competitive programming in his free time.