The most positive pessimist
I have recently been looking up more information about my question that I will have until Thanksgiving, which is: "Is my outlook on life negative or positive?" I looked up the words optimism and pessimism on Wikipedia in order to get more information about my outlook on life, getting more into both words in ways I never thought I could. I've been truly expanding my mind and the meanings to these words so I can completely understand and see where I fall into place.
When I looked up "Optimism," [Optimism. (2011, November 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:07, November 7, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Optimism&oldid=459416754 ], I found myself understanding exactly what they meant and truly observing every little thing that was stated. By doing so I realized that I have very little in common with what was being said. In the article, they talk about optimism involving “hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a favorable or hopeful view.”
I checked this in Dictionary.com [ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/optimism ]. As soon as I read this, I considered myself a pessimist. I though it was funny that it happened within the first three sentences. I thought this quickly. Even though I know I am a bright individual and I know that with my determination that I can go far, I also know this world is cruel. Sometimes even you’re intelligence can't get you too far in this society, especially in this recession that a lot of Americans are still going through. When I think like this, I start wondering: where does that leave me? I am smart, but am I smart enough?
In the Wikipedia article, they also spoke about how optimistic people take failure, stating: "Optimists accept failures and also learn from them." I think this is anyone who is strong willed and devoted to do something. You don't have to be optimistic just to take a loss well and learn from it.
I believe I am more of a pessimist, but even I can accept when I fail and try to figure out how to improve. So why should it just be for people who tend to be optimistic? Even though I am not innocent, I hate to fail and I am a bit of a sore loser. At the end, I try to learn from it.
I don't let my failures define me. This idea is restated in another Wikipedia article, "Learned Optimism" [Learned optimism. (2011, October 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:55, November 9, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Learned_optimism&oldid=457873458 ]. In this article, they say: “The benefits of an optimistic outlook are many: Optimists are higher achievers and have better overall health.” When I read that they say that people who are optimistic are higher achievers, I tried to figure out what optimistic people have that I don't, and then it hit me!
They are happy-go-lucky, ready for each day, and waiting to handle whatever comes to them. I am more of the type to be dragged down knowing that there might be a lot of things I have to get done. It might even stress me out if it's something I am not up for, but must do. On the other hand, if I am excited for the assignment, then I would probably be one of the first people to give it in.
When it comes to health for optimistic people, this Wikipedia article says:
Optimists have been shown to live healthier lifestyles which may influence disease. For example, optimist smoke less, are more physically active, consume more fruit, vegetable and whole-grain bread, and consume more moderate amounts of alcohol.
These two sentences made the most sense to me out of both of these articles on optimisms. I don't know many people who are out-of-the-way optimistic who smoke every day and who drink a lot, even though I do know a few. People like me can't wait for the weekend in order to do these things intensively, but does it really justify both sides by putting them in this category? How can you really tell that being optimistic has anything at all to do with health?
In a Newsweek article that I found online on the Daily Beast, [Sara Kliff, This Is Your Brain on Optimism. (2007, Oct. 23) Newsweek. Retrieved November 9, 2011, http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2007/10/23/this-is-your-brain-on-o... ] it states: “The exact nature of the relationship between optimism and good health is still unclear.” Later on, it states: “Optimists, as opposed to pessimists, are more likely to take care of their health because they believe in the potential positive outcomes.”
I think it makes more sense to say that since they are positive thinkers, optimists believe that they should keep their health good and want to live a long time for whatever reason. They are thinking way ahead, which I doubt pessimist would do to this extent, and it sounds very possible for people who are optimistic.
I also looked up an article from Wikipedia about pessimism in order to be completely sure on what suits me better [Pessimism. (2011, October 31). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:17, November 9, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Pessimism&oldid=458238082 ]. The first thing that caught my eye from this specific article is that it states: “Philosophical pessimism is the similar but not identical idea that life has a negative value, or that this world is as bad as it could possibly be."
I do think this world is a bit cruel and unfair. I believe that in this life people don't do things just out of the generosity of their own heart anymore. It's a shame because I am pretty sure that in the past people cared more about others and less about themselves. It’s also a shame how money has taken over the world. It has made so many people greedy and has made them feel as if they are better then others just because of the size of their wallet.
“Pessimism is sometimes understood to be a self-fulfilling prophecy; that if an individual feels that something is bad, it is more likely to get worse.” When I read this, I automatically related because I am one of those people who believes that when something has gone wrong, it will only get worse before it gets better. I honestly live my life by this. This could be my motto because of the fact that it has yet to fail me.
In order to back up my last fact, I found an article on a Web site, PsychCentral that speaks about these two words, optimism and pessimism and how they compare and contrast with each other. [Jeremy Deanh, Pessimism vs Optimism. In PsychCentral http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/03/17/pessimism-vs-optimism In this article they state:
To the optimists, the pessimists seem too down on everything, always just a little too keen to pour cold water on any exciting plans.To the pessimists, though, the optimists are out of touch with reality. Can’t they see what a nasty, cruel and accident-prone world we live in?
When I had read this, I kind of chuckled for the simple fact that this is something I have thought about so many times. At one point in my life, when I was completely negative in every way possible, all my thoughts where just so pessimistic. The statement from the PsychCentral article is a very true statement because I am sure a lot of people would consider me a party pooper because some plans are just not planned all the way through, and I don't go all out without being sure about things.
“Happiness is not inextricably linked to optimism, nor is pessimism inextricably linked to unhappiness. One could easily imagine an unhappy optimist, and a happy pessimist.” I was happy when I read this because it made pessimistic and optimistic people a bit equal for once. Most of the time they make people who have pessimistic ideas or beliefs seem depressed, as if they have nothing to live for. I am pretty sure that's not the case with all of us, even though it might be for some.
In another article that backs up Wikipedia, [Mark Claridge, Optimistic Vs Pessimistic, In Boxing Scene http://www.boxingscene.com/motivation/34973.php ] the author states:
The pessimist will see the worst in something. They will then take all the responsibility personally. They will then feel bad not just for what they have done, but for who they are, and believe nothing is right.
Even though this sounds overly depressing, I am one who can relate. I am the type who, when something goes wrong, I feel as if I should have seen that coming. I often blame myself a lot for not knowing what was going down or not catching on to something when it was right under my nose.
When a close friend betrays me, I feel as if I have bad judgement, and automatically I feel as if I should improve my judgement so it won't happen again. It is impossible to know people right off the back. You might be able to get a slight clue of who they are, but you will never fully know. Even though I know this, I still continue to blame myself even though I try to remind myself that I am human, and I cannot prevent everything.
Another statement from the article on pessimism in Wikipedia is: “Depression is due to unrealistic negative views about the world.” And later they state: “Pessimists, however, are often able to provide arguments that suggest that their understanding of reality is justified.” When I had read what they are saying in Wikipedia, I instantly knew that that’s the type of person I am.
When I feel strong about something, a whole room of people can be disagreeing with me, but I can throw out facts that back up my opinions. Sometimes I am really good at it, I can make you believe me and completely change your opinion, unless you're just as passionate about it as I am. I do not think that my opinions are wrong, I just think they haven't been proven yet.
I am also one to get myself into a deeper depression then I already am in since I over-think everything, over-analyze things that I have already analyzed a million times. I try to find solutions even when I know there isn't anything I can do to help, which puts me in a bad position because I want to do more, do better for myself or others. This is especially true for family members, just because I need to help the people I love the most. It makes me feel better about myself to know I have the power to make someone else's life seem easy even when mine is feeling the most complicated.
When I am down and a bit depressed, I don't do much with myself. My energy level is on low. I don't want to go out and socialize much, and sometimes, if it gets me really bad, I barely want to speak to anyone. Moments like that I'd rather stay home and absorb myself more into myself, if that makes sense to others.
I double-checked this fact about how pessimism is linked to depression in another article, [CompleteCounseling, Pessimism and depression. (2008, July 17). In Trusted.MD. http://trusted.md/blog/completecounseling/2008/07/17/pessimism_and_depre... ] where they state:
A person’s outlook on life, for example, can be enough to either keep them out of depression, or make them more susceptible to falling into a depression. Having a negative outlook on life or a pessimistic outlook on life can increase the chances of becoming depressed, because life is not as enjoyable as it should be.
Like I said earlier in this essay, sometimes I allow myself to get deep into my depression.
I understand that a lot of people, especially people who are pessimistic, feel as if our views won't get us far or are wrong because of the fact that we are so negative. But speaking for myself, I can’t sit here and act all happy and optimistic when that's not how I feel on the inside. If I ignore feelings and try to just live with it, I wouldn't be able to survive. I honestly think I would kill my emotions more by lying about it, saying something like, life is all great.
I am not one to deny something, especially to myself. My outlook is a part of who I am. It helps me think things out even though sometimes when I feel down or upset, I can't think clearly. Sometimes I think that it's better for me to allow myself to feel down since I usually am the one to pretend to be okay around people who don't need to know my business.
When I get around my family, I just let my depression take over me. Sometimes it will be very obvious that I am feeling down because I can't find it in me to always hide it, but I defiantly will not speak about it since I never speak about things. Then my anger will make me vulnerable. I might be very grouchy and sometimes very introverted. Sometimes when I am feeling really down, I flip out very easily. I argue over anything, and I still won't speak about things that are on my mind and bothering me.
I honestly can't see myself being optimistic, even though I don’t consider myself a full-blown pessimist. I do find ways to deal with things. I write. I sing. I have my poetry, my diary that I have been keeping since the 7th grade, and of course music in general. I know how to keep myself sane. I guess that's why my outlook doesn't bother me as much as it bothers others.
I do understand how it can affect me, which is the main reason I was so interested in knowing if I was a pessimist, but it's been clear to me since I started writing about it. Even though I have my moments when I am extremely positive, I know that the majority of the time I am a negative person with a negative outlook since I am always expecting the worst. With all of this being said, hello, I am Stephanie, and I am one of the most positive pessimists ever.