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    The Optimist & Pessimist: A love story

    I have a track record of psyching myself out.

    Ben told me the other day to approach matters with optimism instead of searching for doomed scenarios or unproven obstacles to stress over.

    I told him, “I understand, but my best quality is pessimism.”

    He laughed, adding, “True.”

    That’s the stark difference between he and I. I’m often the moon to his sun; the hard to his easy; the cry to his laugh.

    So I’ve been thinking about it some more — pessimism, that is — and why I turn to it by default. The quickest, simplest answer is that pessimism serves as my guard. If I expect a bad response, then I won’t be so bothered by the rotten tomatoes thrown at me by my booing audience while I’m on stage delivering my monologue. I might even pat myself on the back for having such sharp instincts to rely on. Right?

    Then again, — and again quite simply — the pessimism might keep me from working hard enough to earn a positive response, one with hoots and whistles and sweet applause. Instincts be damned.

    Optimism: what a concept, what a challenge.

    But for me, for Ben, I’m up for the challenge.

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    4 Responses to “The Optimist & Pessimist: A love story”

    1. 1 SheShe Says:

      Well, I discovered this year that I’m an optimistic fake. I pretend that I’m really optimistic in that I believe and work for the best… but deep down in my core lies my pessisism. Like you I am working on it too.

    2. 2 a Says:

      I agree, pessimism could set you up for learned helplessness. You can’t do it, why try? Maybe if it’s linked to the person (I’m a pessimist) instead of the process or idea (I’m pessimistic about the economy under another Republican), it can become an excuse to avoid failure. Oddly, praise works that way. Person praise (You’re smart) instead of process praise (You did that well) can lead to lifelong feelings of failure because you might be afraid to find out you’re not actually smart. You challenge yourself less to make sure what you do reinforces the idea that you’re smart. The little things you learn as a parent. No wonder it’s so hard!

    3. 3 Andrew P. Says:

      I was googling for the differences between optimism and pessimism and ran across your site. My comment has nothing to do with the subject at hand and I must offer my apologies for being a “grammar puss,” but the above phrase “between he and I” to many of us is like nails across a blackboard. If you could change that to “between him and me” I will sleep so much better tonight!

      Thanks,
      Andrew

    4. 4 Kyle Says:

      Firstly, seriously Andrew? Seriously? 😛

      I am too a reforming pessimist, as I like to say. The problem with pessimism is that you’re never disappointed. I used to say that was a good quality. Fact is, being overly pessimistic is utterly empty. You cannot appreciate anything as much as you could.

      I’m doing my best nowadays to live today. When you walk past a rose, smell it. When you have nothing to do, admire the clouds. It sounds silly, but I’m already a better person for it. Looking at my decision to change my thinking pattern (which is all it is at the end of the day); I do not regret a thing. Keep strong. I’m not all the way there yet, but I sure am trying to get there.

      If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor and read Eckhart Tolle’s book – The Power of Now. This helped me start shifting my thinking almost immediately. As long as you’re open minded and willing, it will help.

      Keep the faith,

      Kyle

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