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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Optimism and Pessimism

    Recently I've been thinking about these two methods of viewing the world. I personally like them both and find pessimism undervalued, but I would like to hear other opinions
    Last edited by el minster; 2020-07-22 at 02:50 PM.

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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Optimists are constantly disappointed, but pessimists are always being pleasantly surprised.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    Optimists are constantly disappointed, but pessimists are always being pleasantly surprised.
    I mean... you're not wrongggg...
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by el minster View Post
    Recently I've been thinking about these two methods of viewing the world. I personally like them both and find pessimism undervalued, but I would like to hear other opinions
    George S. Sorrel argued that optimists think the least amount of effort should be required for any task and are constantly disappointed. The group normally labelled as pessimists are actually bitter optimists, and true pessimists are those that think only the largest degree of effort is required for any task.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    George S. Sorrel argued that optimists think the least amount of effort should be required for any task and are constantly disappointed. The group normally labelled as pessimists are actually bitter optimists, and true pessimists are those that think only the largest degree of effort is required for any task.
    To be fair I'm very much a bitter optimist at this point.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    It looks like I'm a "bitter optimist" to. Is anyone gonna argue for optimism
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    My expectation is optimists have happier lives and are probably more productive on average, because they believe things will go their way and aren't anxious about the likelihood of success. Pessimism is probably most realistic but can hold you back.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    "Pessimist" is a word used by optimists to decribe people who see the world the way it really is.

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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    My expectation is optimists have happier lives and are probably more productive on average, because they believe things will go their way and aren't anxious about the likelihood of success. Pessimism is probably most realistic but can hold you back.
    I expect pessimists are better in extreme situations. Also they are more likely to prepare for such scenarios
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by el minster View Post
    I expect pessimists are better in extreme situations. Also they are more likely to prepare for such scenarios
    As far as my knowledge of psychology goes, your optimism of pessimists is largely unwarranted.

    Emotional pessimism - in contrast to more complex semantic constructs of philosophical pessimism - largely skews towards self-defeating attitudes and honest-to-God depression. People who actually expect negative outcomes do not bother to try and are often overwhelmed by bad situations. Everytime I've seen any references to surveys on this, emotional optimists have greater life-expectancy and greater happiness.

    Characterizing emotional optimism as being carefree is pretty inexact. Think more carefully about the psychology of someone who does prepare for difficulties. Isn't the primary driver of such actions believing that your actions actually matter? Sounds pretty optimistic to me.

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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Pessimism isn't a healthy attitude to have. It doesn't prepare you for disappointment, or make you more realistic: if anything, it's unrealistic to expect things to go wrong for no particular reason, and it blinds you to/discourages you from pursuing potential opportunities because you convince yourself those opportunities aren't gonna work out. Plus, it's morally lazy. If you convince yourself things are just gonna go wrong anyway, then you don't have to put in the hard work of making them go right. You don't have to step out of your comfort zone. You don't have to try.

    Somebody mentioned the old adage of 'optimists are always being disappointed but pessimists are always being pleasantly surprised', but I don't think that's really how either mindset works. Optimistic people endure a setback but have the resilience to know they'll come back from it and learn from it. Pessimistic people react to something that goes well by wondering when it's going to stop going well.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
    it's unrealistic to expect things to go wrong for no particular reason,
    Everything that has happened in this past year to at LEAST me personally begs very much to differ.

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    Optimism isn't a healthy attitude to have. It doesn't prepare you for disappointment, or make you more realistic: if anything, it's unrealistic to expect things to go well for no particular reason, and it blinds you to/discourages you from pursuing potential opportunities because you convince yourself those opportunities are gonna work out on their own. Plus, it's morally lazy. If you convince yourself things are just gonna go well anyway, then you don't have to put in the hard work of making them go right. You don't have to step out of your comfort zone. You don't have to try.

    Optimists put half the needed number of lifeboats on the Titanic and didn't train the crew in how to launch the ones they had because they didn't think the ship could sink. Optimists don't go to the doctor to get that lump checked out because it's probably benign and it might go away on its own. Optimists die in car crashes without a seatbelt because they weren't going very far and didn't think anything bad could happen between home and the grocery store.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    Optimism isn't a healthy attitude to have. It doesn't prepare you for disappointment, or make you more realistic: if anything, it's unrealistic to expect things to go well for no particular reason, and it blinds you to/discourages you from pursuing potential opportunities because you convince yourself those opportunities are gonna work out on their own.
    Thing is, nobody actually said optimism prepares you for disappointment, that it makes you more realistic, or that you should expect things to go well for no reason. Folks did say those things about pessimism in this thread, which is why I responded to them.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by el minster View Post
    Recently I've been thinking about these two methods of viewing the world. I personally like them both and find pessimism undervalued, but I would like to hear other opinions

    In terms of my work "optimism" I call "stubbornness", which is necessary to attempt a task, while "pessimism" I call "experience", which is necessary to prepare for a task.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    "Pessimist" is a word used by optimists to decribe people who see the world the way it really is.

    True, but some self-delusions (often called "confidence") is needed to avoid crippling despair and inaction.

    Admittedly I've called some hardcore optimistists: "damn stupid fools", and some hardcore pessimists (besides myself): "poor useless [slur for those with an unmarried parent], neither is my finest moment.

    I'm pretty doubtful that changing oneself to be less optimistic/foolhardy or pessimistic/catatonicaly despairing is remotely easy, and I despise those who say "Just change your attitude", as if that was something one may "just" do.

    I have seen though in my work optimist/pessimist working partners that were effective together, each supplementing the other's strengths and overcoming the other's weaknesses, but only when they respect each other.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
    Thing is, nobody actually said optimism prepares you for disappointment, that it makes you more realistic, or that you should expect things to go well for no reason. Folks did say those things about pessimism in this thread, which is why I responded to them.
    While it's true no one has done it here, now, it's not like people don't say that. You do get dangerously close to it when you straw-man the Pessimist's position as well. Specifically


    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
    Pessimistic people react to something that goes well by wondering when it's going to stop going well.
    I don't think that's accurate, it's not accurate for me and I consider myself rather pessimistic. You talk about how optimistic people "endure hardship" as if pessimists can't do that as well. Everyone goes through hardships, pessimistic people don't curl up into little balls and give up. Optimistic people are just as likely to simply get washed over by a hardship and falter as a pessimistic person. Pessimism and optimism have little to do with how one overcomes a difficult moment in their life. The rest is just more assertions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
    Pessimism isn't a healthy attitude to have. It doesn't prepare you for disappointment, or make you more realistic:
    Prove it. That's just your assertion and it flies in the face of actual clinical science. Especially in the arena you're attempting to disprove which is called Defensive Pessimism. It's not useful for everyone but it's been found, especially for people with Anxiety Disorders such as myself, to help cognitive function. Don't take my word for it. Here's some reading.

    Here's an article from the Atlantic discussing how being pessimistic is actually having a healthy attitude: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/a...tively/379993/ (It cites sources for all of its claims)

    Here's another good article on Pessimism in general and Defensive Pessimism in specifics. It cites it sources at the bottom as well. http://psychology.iresearchnet.com/s...ive-pessimism/

    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
    if anything, it's unrealistic to expect things to go wrong for no particular reason
    Except that's not what a pessimist is doing. They're identifying why things might go wrong based on the evidence that things have gone wrong before and using that information to make hypothetical for future events. Something we all do. This is just a misrepresentation of pessimism and also just, like, you're opinion on top of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
    and it blinds you to/discourages you from pursuing potential opportunities because you convince yourself those opportunities aren't gonna work out.
    Yeah, that's just not true and an assertion you're going to have to defend with actual evidence. This is also where you veer into the very thing you're saying you weren't doing when Xuc rightly countered your assertions with your assertions. Because Hitchen's Razor applies here in full.

    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
    Plus, it's morally lazy. If you convince yourself things are just gonna go wrong anyway, then you don't have to put in the hard work of making them go right. You don't have to step out of your comfort zone. You don't have to try.
    Another one of just your opinions and condescension to boot. I actually feel emboldened by thinking of all the ways things will go wrong because I feel more ready to handle them if they do. I also set the bar low when trying new things knowing the complications involved. I don't need to know all the complications, or even many, to do it either. I can, once again, look back at previous experiences and make judgement calls on what might happen before they happen. If they don't happen, that's grand and I have a great time. If they do happen I know how to handle them because I was mentally and emotionally prepared for them. I'm not a moral cripple simply because I expect bad things to happen.

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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    You raise some solid points. I'm gonna stick with my base view that pessimism isn't a healthy attitude to have, but sure, there was definitely some strawman going on in that post of mine that didn't need to be there.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    I don't think it's a good attitude to universally believe everything will succeed just because you want it to or can imagine how good things would be if it went that way, but I also don't think it's a good attitude to believe that universally everything will fail or be disappointing just because you fear it might. Or more to the point, being right or wrong about whether something will succeed or fail is only useful if it lets you change your behavior to turn failures into successes or to make the downsides of things not matter while amplifying the upsides.

    So an optimist who aggressively uses that to always find the most promising opportunities, or always has a way to turn even small successes that happen amidst larger failures to their advantage? That's a good strategy. A pessimist who is always prepared to soak a loss and maintains reserves or backup plans so that even if something bad happens, they can make the bad thing not matter? That's a good strategy. Being able to do both? Even better!

    But the key point there is finding the things where one has agency (you could think of this as being optimistic about one's agency, but its more than just 'I believe I have agency', its 'I will focus on where my agency is and how to grow it or leverage it'). Once someone thinks 'outcomes will be this way regardless of what I do' without bothering to look for a way to change that conclusion, then I think both optimism and pessimism become harmful.

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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Comrade View Post
    You raise some solid points. I'm gonna stick with my base view that pessimism isn't a healthy attitude to have, but sure, there was definitely some strawman going on in that post of mine that didn't need to be there.
    Then you're argument isn't with me or anyone else here, your argument is with academics. When you all sort it out, get back to me won't you? All the science seems to say that you're incorrect on that front.

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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    I don't think the argument and counter-argument exist in the same space.

    If you have a headache, taking ibuprofen might be good. It does not follow constant use of ibuprofen is good.

    Similarly, situational efficacy of defensive pessimism is not a sweeping defense of pessimism in general. This is actually pointed out in both articles Razade linked to. There are cases where it works, there are cases where it doesn't. Similarly, there are cases where strategic optimism works, and cases where it doesn't. The statements "defensive pessimism is situationally useful" and "long-term pessimism is unhealthy" can be true at the same time. So on and so forth. This said, I do agree Comrade hasn't provided solid proof for his case, and I'm too lazy to hunt down life expectancy statistics myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    I don't think the argument and counter-argument exist in the same space.

    If you have a headache, taking ibuprofen might be good. It does not follow constant use of ibuprofen is good.

    Similarly, situational efficacy of defensive pessimism is not a sweeping defense of pessimism in general. This is actually pointed out in both articles Razade linked to. There are cases where it works, there are cases where it doesn't. Similarly, there are cases where strategic optimism works, and cases where it doesn't. The statements "defensive pessimism is situationally useful" and "long-term pessimism is unhealthy" can be true at the same time. So on and so forth. This said, I do agree Comrade hasn't provided solid proof for his case, and I'm too lazy to hunt down life expectancy statistics myself.
    And also by myself. I never made a statement that it was good for everyone, on the contrary, I expressly went out of my way to say it wasn't useful for everyone. But since Comrade decided to paint with the broadest brush possible, I didn't really feel the need to get that into the nit and grit. Comrade stated the broader category and all I had to do to refute his statement was show cases, circumstantial as they may be, where they were incorrect. I think I did that.


    You don't have to hunt down the life expectancy between pessimistic and optimistic people. I'm happy to, well not happy considering it effects me, that studies find people with more pessimistic mindsets die younger. It has less to do however with pessimism itself, that being negative think, leading to health problems rather it has to do with people who might have a tendency towards depression or anxiety or those with terminal illnesses tend to be more negative thinkers and people in those categories have lower life expediencies.

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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    I think that there's some misconceptions that get bandied around about both. I don't think that optimists necessarily think that effort and determination will always, always, always get you what you want. Things don't always work out the way you want them to, and that's OK.

    I also don't think that pessimists necessarilly believe that failure is assured, and there's no point in even trying. Sometimes there's value in putting effort into something you care about. Even if you don't even think it'll go well.

    As for me... Yeah, I'm pretty firmly a pessimist. The earlier remark about "having something go well, and constantly wonder when it'll stop going well?" That's me. I literally do that. I guess on one hand, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop usually means that I'm better prepared for when it does. On the other... I'm never really completely comfortable anywhere. I have pretty bad mental health and I have trouble maintaining relationships.

    Though I can't be sure if a more positive outlook would make me better, I can't say that a pessimistic mindset is one that I can truthfully endorse.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Just my two cents on this.
    I would like to establish some disparity between short and long term optimism/pessimism. Short term optimism leads to disappointment. If you expect every little thing to go right, then of course you will be wrong.
    Long term optimism is a source of hope. Itís a way of telling yourself that no matter how dark things may seem, things WILL get better. This kind of optimism has helped me a lot through a lot, and currently due to recent events, is one of the few things keeping me fully sane.
    Being an optimist, Iím less experienced on pessimism, but this is how I imagine it.
    Short term pessimism is also not very helpful. If you think every little thing is going to go wrong, you will see more wrong things. However it may drive you to try to fix them, particularly when combined with long term optimism.
    However, long term pessimism isnít helpful at all. If you think that no matter what you do, things will turn out horribly, then all that leads to is despair and apathy. Because with this mindset, nothing matters so why bother trying.

    Also would like to point out that pessimism isnít actually realism. Sure if you look at where things are then you will find bad things, but there are good things too.
    Real world example, recently got dumped out of nowhere and now the person who I care about the most will not speak to me. this is probably my fault. I can obviously look at the rather obvious bad thing right in front of me, but long term, things WILL get better. It may not seem like it, but I will move on. Hell im only what like, 15-20% through my existence? I got plenty of life to get through. And even short term. Despite everything thatís happened through the course of the year so far, Iím still in a much better place than I have been before. Iíve got better friends. I actually like my personality. Iíve grown more comfortable with who I am as a person. I canít speak for everyone, but in my experience, each year so far has gotten better. 2020 has actually been my favourite year so far, despite the pandemic, despite heartbreak, despite everything. A pessimistic outlook simply isnít realistic. Even little things like having food and water and a stable home, these are things to be great full for. The worst hasnít happened yet, I am still alive.

    Also whenever I think of how bad a situation is I think ďWould it be worse if there were poisonous snakes?Ē The answer, so far, has always been yes. The worst has not happened, there are no poisonous snakes. Life is a little more bearable than it could be.

    (Also side note, thanks for letting me be devils advocate for optimism, I really needed to kinda get into a hopeful mindset at the moment.)
    Thanks for reading this if you have, itís a lot, but itís just kinda my thoughts on the matter.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    But what about mild pessimism long term? Like you worry things will go wrong and prepare for that possibility
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    Quote Originally Posted by el minster View Post
    But what about mild pessimism long term? Like you worry things will go wrong and prepare for that possibility
    Yes, in moderation, I suppose that could be helpful. BUT, you have to make sure you actually spend little enough time worrying that you actually CAN get stuff done. Worrying constantly can be detrimental I think.
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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Pessimism is not realism, nor is optimism. Both are a skewed view of reality, and both can be harmful to you. Being realistic about everything is unrealistic and everyone has some degree of pessimism or optimism. I don't think anyone can be optimistic about everything or pessimistic about everything, but I also think that optimism and pessimism lie on a scale and that we are all over that scale all the time.

    My two cents: Realism is the way to go, but we really can't control how our brains work and just deal with things the best we can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragoscy View Post
    Pessimism is not realism, nor is optimism. Both are a skewed view of reality, and both can be harmful to you. Being realistic about everything is unrealistic and everyone has some degree of pessimism or optimism. I don't think anyone can be optimistic about everything or pessimistic about everything, but I also think that optimism and pessimism lie on a scale and that we are all over that scale all the time.

    My two cents: Realism is the way to go, but we really can't control how our brains work and just deal with things the best we can.
    This. Big agree here. However, I have found that a fantastic way to alter your perspective on life in general is to research other philosophical outlooks on life. While we can't control how our brains work, exposing them to other outlooks can shift our own perspective :)

    In general this is a kind of manic/depressive scale and I think alot of people see themselves hardcore one way or another when it's more like most of us aren't extremes we just have bouts where we feel like we are an optimist or pessimist

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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Like anything, the healthier position is always a shade of grey somewhere in between. 'Hope for the best, prepare for the worst' is my preferred attitude.

    Pessimism in action can strangely be very liberating - my fiance is always a little perplexed with my attitude to impending problems; I always stop, go "so, what is the absolute worst that can happen here?", come to terms with how I would handle that, then go on with my day, safe in the knowledge that if the worst happens, I am prepared, and since it is very likely the worst wont actually happen, any 'lesser' consequences are perfectly acceptable to me. As long as you don't let yourself wallow in pessimism, a pro-active pessimist can have a pretty stress-free life!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    "Pessimist" is a word used by optimists to decribe people who see the world the way it really is.
    "optimist" is a word used by pessimists to describe people who are capable of being happy or excited in spite of the best efforts of the world.
    ďEvil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.Ē

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    Default Re: Optimism and Pessimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    "optimist" is a word used by pessimists to describe people who are capable of being happy or excited in spite of the best efforts of the world.
    both terms were, in fact, created by the opposing side as a means of belittling their world view
    We're all just humans who like other humans... or we don't...
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    I am me, and will continue to be me, as hard as I can.
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