This is part 4 in a series on positive and negative thinking. To start at the beginning, click here.
When you watch cartoons, pessimism is that little black storm cloud that hovers over someone’s head. It’s an infinite bad day. It’s Murphy’s Law at its most potent. It’s Eeyore.
There is a problem with this viewpoint, however.
You see, pessimism isn’t always so extreme. Sometimes, the pessimist is simply “being a realist,” or accepting and vocalizing the fact that there are sometimes complications with a plan, or with the way that thing is being built, or with cars or with life. Sometimes pessimism is just the guy that keeps us grounded in the knowledge that there are things outside of our control.
“I’m not absolutely certain of the facts, but I rather fancy it’s Shakespeare who says that it’s always just when a fellow is feeling particularly braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with the bit of lead piping.”
― P.G. Wodehouse
As a result of that, it’s my opinion that every plan needs the input of a pessimist. If we went along every day thinking that nothing could go wrong, there would never be a backup plan. I’m a fan of motorsports, so I think about it this way: if there were no pessimists, there would be no extra engines on the team’s truck. It’s the nature of fuel to run low and of tires to wear out, but the hope of every race team is that the motor will make it the whole race. If we left it to eternal optimists, blowing a motor would be the end of the race. Thanks to the pessimists, it doesn’t have to be.
When we view only the most extreme aspects of pessimism, we lose a valuable tool for our preparedness. We lose sight of the roadblocks and obstacles that might get in between us and the goal. With a pessimist around, we can be ready.
On Monday (yes, you have to wait) we’re going to discuss how to keep a balance between optimism and pessimism so that both can stay healthy and continue to provide a solid benefit to your future.
View the rest of the series:
- Part 1 – Pessimistic Optimism
- Part 2 – What’s in an Outlook?
- Part 3 – Nothing But Smiles
- Part 4 – Bottling the Storm
- Part 5 – Both Sides of the Coin