The biggest misconceptions about pessimism and optimism

In a society where pessimism is not viewed favorably, it is important to distinguish between defensive and fatalistic pessimism.

In modern society, everyone tries to think positively and be optimistic, so we can freely say that the terror of optimism has prevailed. Although there is a lot of research that has found a connection between optimism and physical and mental health, happiness in love, professional success and longevity, experts say that not everything is that simple.

Psychologist Julie Norem claims that a certain dose of pessimism is even good for dealing with the insurmountable problems that we will have sooner or later. In her author’s text for the site Psychology Today, she listed some of the most common misconceptions about optimism and pessimism.

Thus, there are four most common misconceptions:

Myth 1: People are optimistic or pessimistic

It is not true that someone is always just an optimist or pessimist about all things. It often happens that someone, for example, has high hopes for their business success, while on the other hand they have low expectations regarding their love life. It all depends on the temperament of the person and the circumstances in which he finds himself.

Myth 2: Optimism is innate

Although this observation is somewhat accurate, because genes largely determine our psychology, people still have free will and can learn from experience how to form adequate expectations about the future, without going to any extremes.

Myth 3: It is always better to be optimistic than pessimistic

As we have already mentioned, a healthy dose of pessimism can be useful in our lives, especially when we are facing great uncertainty. It is important to psychologically prepare for the worst case scenario of a situation, so that in case it happens, they avoid the phase of shock and disappointment and immediately deal with all the burning problems.

Myth 4: Pessimism prevents us from being happy

Being pessimistic in some circumstances is a perfectly reasonable attitude and it is not necessarily as detrimental to our well-being as it may seem. Of course, a distinction must be made between defensive pessimism and fatalistic pessimism. This first one protects us from delusions, beliefs in miracles and excessive expectations. Fatalistic pessimism, on the other hand, leaves no room for hope and almost necessarily leads to depression or is a symptom of it.

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