Being a pessimist isn’t all bad
By Jessica Berget, Opinions Editor
Optimism gets too good of a rap. I think it’s viewed too much as a redeeming quality in people, while pessimism is seen as a deterrent. Sure, optimism has its benefits, but people need to start understanding that thinking negatively sometimes can be a positive thing.
People often complain about being frustrated by negative people. Well, I’m frustrated by positive people. I think the refrain of “stay positive!” or “not all people are bad” is a tired, unrealistic view. It’s important to look on the dark side of life. Realize that there is good and bad (but mostly bad) in everyone.
The truth is we need both pessimism and optimism in our lives because they each have redeeming qualities. However, people look down on pessimism as a negative characteristic. Being pessimistic doesn’t mean you are miserable all the time; it just means you think more critically about the world around you and more cautiously about the people you let in and the decisions you make. Still, many have their quarrels with it. To me, this critical perspective is better than wearing rose-coloured glasses and being naïve (sorry optimists).
Being pessimistic doesn’t necessarily mean you’re always angry—you simply expect the worst People who are pessimistic also tend to be more practical, since they have lower expectations. Expecting the worst out of any situation or any person makes you more cautious and less vulnerable to people who prey on trusting, innocent, or optimistic people. If you are too trusting or nice because you consider yourself an optimist, people can and will take advantage of that.
Assuming the worst makes you weigh every possible outcome in any situation. It also makes you think of everything that could go wrong in a scenario, so you’re mentally and emotionally prepared for it. Ultimately, it equips you for the worst and makes the outcome seem not as scary as it might have if you hadn’t planned for it.
Pessimism does have downsides—for instance, thinking negatively about yourself and your life is not going to make you successful or happy. However, optimism is not without its faults. Research has shown that being too positive makes you too trusting and overly confident, as reported by The Globe and Mail. Another study has revealed pessimists generally also live longer because “those with low expectations for a ‘satisfying future’ actually led healthier lives,” as reported in The Daily Mail. Lead author Frieder R. Lang said about the findings, which were drawn from 40,000 adults across a range of ages, “Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions.”
No one way of looking at life is better. It’s important to harness both optimistic and negative attributes in different situations. Sure, optimism can be good for some things, but I recommend looking at the glass half-empty once in a while.