A while back I got into a dispute with my father about optimism and pessimism. I told my dad that he has too much faith in people and he told me I was negative. This led me to think about how the outlook of optimistic people on the world varied from that of pessimists/realists. I thought about whether my negative view on the world made me more susceptible to depression and jeopardized my relationships, but then I realized something; pessimists/realists are happier than most optimists. I considered the stereotype that optimists are always happy and satisfied with the world. Then I thought about my friend from high school "B." She would have such high expectations for every activity we got into, and as soon as things started to go bad she would fall into this state of wallowing and rage while I just nodded and shrugged. I didn't expect things to go perfect, I didn't expect people to always agree with us, so when things would fall apart, I would have a backup plan.
Living as a pessimist/realist is brighter than optimists would ever admit. The misconception about us is that we are dark on the inside. There is the idea that we have no faith in people, or in the good things that could happen, and frankly that just is not true. We view the world as it is, a messed up place where people tend to only think about themselves.
Let’s lay out a scenario:
You and a group of friends get invited out to a party by people you knew from high school. It is common knowledge that most parties thrown by this group of people do not end well. Despite this knowledge you need a night out and decide to go. You arrive at the party to find it dead and filled with wasted, irate guys fighting over a girl that doesn’t like either of them. Eventually the police come and the party gets shut down.
An optimist’s entire night feels ruined. They came out with the expectation of a good time and put all their faith in the idea that this would be the one night where nothing bad would happen. Unfortunately, they ran into nothing but hardships and drama. They tried to stay hopeful throughout the night, but one thing turned into a worse thing and everything fell apart.
A pessimist/realist is fully aware of the history of these people and came prepared for the worst. They came with the expectation they would get caught in a shootout. That didn’t happen, so we go home with a sense of security and relief that at least no one died tonight. The night for a pessimist turned out better than expected. We don’t set these expectations on the world that everyone will work together and no one will hurt each other. We go into a situation not expecting everything to be terrible but we don’t expect perfection either. For a pessimist/realist no matter which way a situation turns out we don’t feel affected negatively. We have low expectations and find that we were either right from the beginning and feel content or we were wrong and feel pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
There you have it. Pessimists and realists are happier than optimists. We don’t expect much, therefore, it doesn’t take much to please us. Don't be so afraid to see the world the way it is. Join us on the dark side, it's much brighter here.