Friday, September 14, 2007

Pessimist or Realist?

The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.
~George F. Will, The Leveling Wind

My usual outlook on life in general tends towards cynical pessimism. Though it's the politically correct thing to be an optimist, I just can quite bring myself to jump on the pollyanna bandwagon.

I've always believed in the old Boy Scout maxim, Be Prepared. That is, I don't want life and circumstances to catch me with my pants down -- unless I'm having sex, of course.

I've always seen my outlook as being more of a realist, than a pessimist, per se. To anticipate and prepare for what could go wrong is just the prudent thing to do, in my book. If I fly low to the ground, it doesn't hurt so much when I fall, and it's quicker and easier to recover and start over. If I don't have inflated expectations, they I'm not so disappointed when things don't work out -- and pleasantly surprised when they do.

I'm not sure if a person's outlook on the world is genetic or whether it is learning from experience. Perhaps it's a bit of both, but I'd say that experience probably plays the stronger role. In my own life, I tend to be optimistic about things I generally have success with, and pessimistic about things that end in disappointment more often than not.

I am optimistic about my relationships with women and I approach new women with confidence because a large percentage of my encounters with women over the years have been successful. Even when I bomb out with a particular woman, it doesn't get me down, because previous successful experiences tell me I'll likely do better the next time.

I am pessimistic about my chances of landing a good job and keeping it. This is because I've got a long list of shitty jobs that ended in disaster going back many years, And I've had to compete in a depressed job market more often than I've experienced a job market favoring job seekers.

In both instances, experience had shaped my outlook. In the instance of pessimism, one can endure a bad patch for awhile and still remain optimistic, but after a certain amount of time, optimism becomes denial.

I'll close with a bit of humor that perfectly expresses the idea that shit will happen despite the best of attitudes:

You put a drop of wine into a vat of sewage and you get sewage
You put a drop of sewage into a vat of wine and you get sewage.



elisataufik said...

I am also reminded that age old adage that goes
"when life gives you lemons, make lemonade"

or in this case,
when life gives you shit, make fertilizer.


Libertine said...

Yes, but what do you do if you're drowning in an ocean of lemonade?

LMC said...

I try to be an optimist but I think I am more of a pessimist, like you I have learned my lessons and know when not to get my hopes up too high with certain things. My family taught me that! I would rather think the worst of a situation and then be pleasantly surprised when it turns out positive.

elisataufik said...

heh heh .
i'd prolly learn to swim :)
or at least float.

don't ask me if it were shit instead of lemonade. Coz then I'd prolly rather die.

"Suffocating on shit", what a way to go.

Libertine said...


I don't even want to think about going down for the third time in shit.