The Perks of Being an Optimist

2 minutes

This post is about optimism and pessimism. We try and answer 3 questions, all answers backed by research,

  1. How do you know if you are a pessimist?
  2. How do you become an optimist?
  3. When does pessimism come in handy?


1.How do you know if you are a pessimist?

UPenn professor and happiness expert Martin Seligman tells us that,

There are three characteristics of pessimists:

They think bad stuff last forever, they don’t think bad things happen for a reason and they assume that it is all their fault. Optimists on the other hand believe that the bad stuff lasts for just some time, it happens for a reason and that it is not their fault.

When confronted with a hard time, optimists view it as a challenge to overcome, and give it their best.

Need we go on about why you should give optimism a chance? We anyway will!

So ultimately, pessimists quit and they are overcome with a sense of hopelessness while optimists have a greater chance of succeeding.  

2. Next, how do you become an optimist?

According to renowned psychologist, Michele Crossley,

Tell yourself a happy story about what is going on in your life. Try and put a positive spin to it. Depression is nothing but incoherent account of what has happened, a “life story gone awry”. So change the story you tell yourself, and well, change your life. 

So if the voice in your head is saying that things will never be right and that it is all your fault, change that voice.

3. And finally, when does pessimism come in handy?

According to Martin E Seligman in his book, ‘Learned Optimism’,

Given, pessimists have a more realistic and accurate version of what is happening. However, the ‘delusion’ of optimists is “self-serving”.

A little bit of pessimism is good for you, and a few pessimists here and there are probably good for a company too. The trick is in asking yourself, ‘What is the cost of failure?”. If the cost of failure is high, pessimism is the way to go. But keep your attitude what Seligman calls “flexible optimism”, that is, be optimistic most of the time, but use pessimism as a tool when the cost of failure is high.

So there you have it, the three most important questions about pessimism answered. Do you want more information on optimism and pessimism? Our experts at YourDOST are the best ones to ask!

Sushma Hebbar

Sushma Hebbar is a Senior Psychologist at YourDOST. She is an experienced career psychologist with a Master's in Clinical Psychology. She has worked with clients of different age groups, dealing with a wide variety of psychosocial & life adjustment problems that people face in their everyday lives. She has an extensive experience of dealing with career confusions, academic issues, relationship issues, exam stress and skill development. She worked as a facilitator and trained children for the development of Higher Order Thinking Skills. During her internship at All India Institute of Speech and Hearing at Mysore, she worked with children having ADHD, Learning disability and even those who were intellectually disbaled and suffered from Down syndrome. Her belief is that every individual is unique and has the right to be happy, which clearly goes on to show her liberal mindset.