Thursday, November 17, 2011

Optimism v. Pessimism

Most people in my personal life seen me as an eternal optimist, but a few years ago a friend told me I should try to be more "cautiously optimistic." At the time, I did not fully understand the meaning of that, but I have always appreciated that my friends don't always view things with the same rosy colored glasses that I like to use to view the world around me. Never before has their tempered view of situations proven more useful to me that this past year, and today I truly learned why.

In the December 2011 issue of Psychology Today there is a great article by Annie Murphy Paul entitled "The Uses and Abuses of Optimissim and Pessimism." She goes on to explain that while an optimistic view is great for providing us with hope, pessimism is a useful protective mechanism for our ego. If your expectations are low, you can only be pleasantly surprised; meanwhile eternal optimists run the risk of being greatly disappointed. Ultimately her point is that you need to have both outlooks, and use them appropriately in the right situations.

Remaining optimistic these days, given the state of our economy and morale in this country right now, is not easy, but it is actually critical to our survival that we continue to have hope in better days ahead. The same is true for anyone currently dealing with a difficult personal issue or relationship in crisis right now, especially right before the holidays. We all need to be able to believe in a brighter future, but not without thinking about some measured steps to protect ourselves and try to fix some of our own problems. With optimists and pessimists uniting everywhere, perhaps we can embrace a cautiously optimistic view-- still hoping for the best, but not expecting it to just happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment