I respect pessimists deeply. I was one for most of my life.
Right after leaving behind a startup I loved, my pessimism went into overdrive. It drove me to take a job in a call center because I thought I was worthless. I thought the world was nothing more than lucky elites versus stupid people like me who were destined to fail.
I’d go to my call center job every day and eat cold canned minestrone soup for lunch. It was the perfect metaphor for my broken existence.
A mentor at work gave me some good advice: “Try seeing the world better than it is.”
It seemed like stupid advice from a hero-worshipping optimist. It actually became the catalyst for me to change. I realized everything seemed f*cked up because that was the story I was selling to myself.
How you describe the world is how you will unconsciously see the world.
If you see the world as screwed then that’s how it will appear. Solutions to big problems often come from nowhere.
Just because you can’t see the solution or it’s delayed, doesn’t mean one isn’t coming. Elon Musk could take us to Mars or some other planet. Earth can regenerate itself from human harm as a living organism. Large numbers of humanity can radically change their ways, the way they successfully adapted in 2020 to multiple crises.
Seeing the world as screwed and tweeting about it every day only reinforces your belief.
Take the dark sunglasses off to see the light.
Pessimism has gone mainstream.
There are full-time pessimistic influencers now. They have a tonne of followers. You can go viral by calling the downfall of America in intimate detail. You can even make upwards of $10,000 USD a month peddling this nonsense based on fear.
Saying the world is in bad shape is an easy narrative. Your mind’s default setting is to see the negative in everything. Spreading negative content is an easy way to exploit humanity’s default programming.
Overriding your programming and daring to see the world as slightly better than it is takes everything you’ve got. When you do, you help others do the same — that’s real leadership.
You can be optimistic and still plan for failure.
Pessimists say optimists are blind to failure. They don’t see what is wrong so they must be flawed. That’s not true.
Optimists still see failure. They can still harness the ability to plan for failure. Failure is what gives optimists hope in the first place. The fact the world has avoided nuclear wars, beat the Spanish Flu, overcome racism in certain countries, and embraced online technology when the internet was initially labeled as a scam is proof.
Failure gives us evidence humans will find a way.
The bigger the catastrophe the more humans rise to the challenge, moving humanity forward in the process.
Optimists expect failure. They just don’t believe failure is all there is to look forward to and nothing will rise from the ashes.
Pessimism pushes everybody away from you.
When I was a full-time pessimist nobody wanted to be around me. It’s why most of my high school friends didn’t stay in touch with me. I called their dreams a scam. Who wants to be around that guy?
When you embrace the pessimist way of life, eventually, only the pessimists want to be around you. You can binge on negativity all day but it won’t get you anywhere.
Pessimists told me digital currencies were a scam; that governments would ban them; that they had no underlying value; that they could be hacked. They told me all the problems with digital currency without knowing people were already solving those problems and would solve them, eventually.
PayPal, The US Government and Jack Dorsey’s payments company, Square, then legitimized digital currencies. The fintech pessimists are nowhere to be seen. They’ve accepted their fears were exactly that — False Evidence Appearing Real.
Life is already guaranteed to produce tragedy.
Who wants to be around people who focus their whole life on it, rather than enjoy what else there is before it’s all taken away?
Pessimism rarely offers solutions.
This is my big gripe. You can spot the problem Mr Pessimist. Congratulations. What are you going to do about it, man?
Pessimism focuses on what is wrong. It’s misrepresented as realism. As Jim Carrey says, “what is real anyway?”
It’s exhausting to be around people who can only ever present problems. The people who do well in life aren’t lucky. Instead, they’re focused on bringing solutions to problems. They spend a small amount of time defining the problem, and a stupid amount of time on how it can be solved.
Problem-solving gives you meaning and fulfillment in life. Find a problem and solve it. It’s automated motivation without the requirement for willpower.
Seriously, things aren’t so bad.
It’s going to take more than a pandemic and politics to dampen my spirit. Pessimists describe the pandemic as the end of prosperity. It isn’t…it’s a reset.
There are already working vaccines. Things are rapidly changing in politics. The internet is being democratized again in front of our very eyes with decentralized blockchain technology.
There’s a lot to be hopeful for. When things get bad pessimists make it sound worse than it is — it never is. Back humanity, because you’re part of it.
Humanity is actually pretty smart.
One thing that frustrates me about pessimists is they call groups of people “idiots.” They throw the word around like they’ve figured out the secret code to living and the rest of us are stupid.
Well, humanity is pretty smart. When we put our brains together we do amazing stuff. We took humans to the moon. We found ways to construct buildings as tall as the sky. We invented languages. We invented programming languages that allow us to code and link machines together, infinitely.
Calling humanity idiots is dumb. We do great things, although we may not always be a superior life form. In the next 12 months we may learn we’re not alone in the galaxy. There may in fact be smarter life forms that have been visiting us for casual night gazing, while flying past military aircraft.
Motivating people is deeply fulfilling.
That’s *not* what a pessimist does.
Pessimists are demotivators. I remember the guy who trolled me on LinkedIn. He called himself the #1 Demotivator. He got it wrong, and got banned for life. Other social media platforms then banned him.
Telling people to give up is easy. It takes no effort. It’s the default response. “Sorry pal, life is unfair. Give up. Grab a beer. Numb your pain with any distraction you can find. You shouldn’t have even tried.” This is the mediocrity of pessimism at its finest.
On the other hand, motivating people is rewarding. Taking your life lessons and simplifying them so others may use them if they choose is worth contemplating. Your everyday small wins are a miracle for someone who has been bitch slapped by mental illness and has no idea what to do.
Motivation is just the truth: people can get through any challenge in life and they do.
Pessimism reduces innovation.
Innovation requires a person to see the world better than it is. You can’t innovate and solve problems when you’re drowning in pessimism. You have to have some degree of hope to believe you can find the answer to a seemingly unsolvable puzzle.
Imagine if Albert Einstein woke up every day and said “well, the world is screwed, so what’s the point?” He would never have bothered to see things nobody else had seen before like the theory of relativity.
Your curiosity and imagination is ignited when you have hope for the future.
Pessimism is exhausting to onlookers.
This is why I’ve had to reduce the influx of pessimists profiteering off my attention. It’s exhausting. My brain is already bruised and battered from the pandemic and resulting recession.
Pessimists often miss that their view of the world sucks the life out of people.
Another negative headline about the end of the world takes a mental toll after a while. What right does a pessimist have to inflict so much mental exhaustion on the world?
We need mental uplifting right now. Not doomsdayers restating facts we can get from chaos tv channel, CNN, for free.
I am exhausted from the doom and gloom of pessimists. How about you?
What happens to pessimists after a while is people switch them off. This is why they try and make their voice louder. But like the boy who cried wolf, eventually, we get tired of it. So we unconsciously switch off.
Nobody is coming to save you.
This is what the pessimists don’t understand. Politicians don’t care about your pessimistic views. The invisible virus sweeping the world doesn’t care about your feelings. The bank doesn’t care if you can’t pay your home loan or why. A stimulus check of between $600-$2000 isn’t going to make a material difference to your financial situation.
I spent most of my life being pessimistic because I secretly wanted sympathy. I waited and waited for somebody to care about my dire views of the world, while eating canned soup and staring at the concrete wall of a view I’d earned for myself courtesy of my job. The calvary never came.
It was at that point that I realized I must save myself.
You save yourself from pessimism when you see its presence in your life and the destructive damage it’s doing. When you see pessimism, you can reframe it into optimism.
The Solution to Pessimism
What if the opposite were true? You see, maybe we need all the chaos right now to force change because proactive change was too slow. What if the opposite of all the bad news was the answer?
Here’s an even deeper solution to pessimism: What if it all didn’t matter because we’re all going to die one day anyway? When you place your pessimism alongside your mortality, everything changes.
It took multiple visits to the hospital for me to understand one thing: we’re not getting out alive.
You can either see life as a gift many sperm in the same race as you didn’t get to take part in, or you can see life as some magical fantasy land where the world works in your favor and everything makes sense, and problems are rare.
Life isn’t supposed to be easy. But then again, the chances of you being given life were slim to begin with. And the chances of you staying alive and not being wiped out by some random tragedy further promote the awesomeness of optimism as a viable way to live your life.
See the world better than it is.
The Optimist’s Deadly Trap
Pessimists did get one thing right and I hate to admit it. Writer, Gustavo Razzetti, said it better than I ever could.
Optimists [can] pay less attention to detail and fail to seek new information to challenge their rosy views leading to poor decisions.
Optimists can fall into their comfort zone. They can assume everything is always going to be alright, and therefore, forget about the superpower of open-mindedness to go out and discover new information. The world becomes an echo chamber if you don’t question your reality.
Takeaway: Constantly challenge your view of the world whether you are an optimist or a pessimist.