The (Sick) Upside of Pessimism

Erik Cooper —  November 22, 2010 — Leave a comment

Before yesterday’s epic battle between good and evil (otherwise known as the annual Colts vs. Patriots Armageddon), I jokingly tweeted my dreadful outlook on the injury-ravaged Colts chances for victory, noting:

“Pessimism only has an upside.”

If I’m truly honest, I was only half joking. I am a pessimist. I’ve always struggled with a bit of a glass half empty mentality.  Anticipating the worst.  Assuming every phone call is news of impending catastrophe.

In a strange way, I’ve always seen a distorted upside to this approach.  Hey, if you assume the worst, you can only be pleasantly surprised, right? Absorb the blow (of that Manning interception with all 3 timeouts while already in field goal range to tie the game) in your mind ahead of time and you can avoid the full brunt of the pain if and when it comes.  It’s like preventative medicine.

The only problem? You’re always living like you’re a little bit sick.

Assuming the worst may help dull the pain of potential disappointment, but it also deadens the ability to fully experience joy.  To truly be alive.  And with that, pessimism has no real upside.

(By the way, evil may have triumphed yesterday 31-28. But it won’t win forever.)

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