The Joys of Pessimism

We’ve all heard the saying ‘is the glass half empty or half full?’. We’re all taught that we are better off being the optimist, the half glass full person, that it’s better to perpetually look for the bright side, to find the merit in something. If someone is being ‘half glass empty’ then we look down on them, we belittle them for not seeking out the positives. But, there is a certain joy that can come from pessimism. For one, you always feel justified when things go wrong, and when things truly do turn out alright you are pleasantly surprised. Though some would argue that realism is the best ‘ism’ to take, even then people will think of you as a pessimist.

Personally, I’ve always subscribed to a level of realism and pessimism. Despite that what realism has allowed me to do is to see the positive aspects of things too. Often, when people are telling me about issues they’re going through, it is normal for them to take a pessimistic view. But despite not being optimistic with my aid, realism does hold its own brightness, in these situations. It allows me to see when a point is being exaggerated and, furthermore allows me to show this person that there is a possibility that what they imagine is plausible, but that it is more likely that another more simple option is happening. For instance, say one’s partner is not messaging you back, you may assume that they don’t want to talk to you or that they are with somebody else. However, it is much more likely that they are burdened with work, or their phone died, or maybe they’ve just gone to sleep.

Although realism has been intrinsic to me, using pessimism and looking at the worst possible outcome prepares you firstly for failure, in that you become used to not always succeeding in your aim. And secondly, you prepare more for what can go wrong. That second point is the most vital one. It is also one of the joys that can come from pessimism. You gain the skill to be able to visualise how different aspects of an issue interact, you see what can go wrong, and what you can do to properly shape the outcome.

The joy that comes from pessimism is what comes from seeing the world in a different light. You begin to see the world, not as a beacon of hope but as a world of self-interest and deprivation. For some that can lead to a downward spiral of horrid thoughts that put the mind into a depressive trance. But, for others, it drives them to make changes to the world. Whilst optimism can be seen as taking the most beautiful view of life, when you apply a dash of realism to it you realise that some ignorance must be applied. The real joy that comes from pessimism, the real truth that comes from it, is to see the world as dystopian yet have the drive to make it utopian.


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