Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Look for the Good in Pessimism

I was reading in the April 28th Economist magazine a short article on financial stability. The headline was, "The better you do, the greater the risk". The gist of the article was that the Bank of England is worried because things are going so well that there must be something wrong.

Often I find myself in the same situation. I am thinking I am doing so well something must be wrong. It is ironic.

We all are part optimist and part pessimist. Of course the balance differs from person to person. It was not so long ago that nature would cull out the blindly optimistic - people who would say "I can find food in the winter so do not need to store any" or people who would say "That lion won't eat me". There are some truths and some things we can learn from our pessimistic thoughts.

The key is finding the right balance. Even pessimism can be appropriately used to reduce risk. How can you harness the power of your pessimism and keep the optimism balance right?

6 Comments:

At 3:02 PM, Blogger David said...

In addition to having a "To Do" list use pessimism to create a "To Not Do" list. Sometimes not doing something is more important than the things we do - its just not as publicly recognized. For example, not smoking or not merging TimeWarner with AOL. Pessimism helps us recognize this so we can avoid risky situations and protect our values.

David

 
At 4:34 AM, Anonymous Howie said...

I agree with you. It's logical if your think about it. But I think it's not concern that drives us to have this thought. It's probably our understanding that in every defeat, there is success which we believe works the other way around.

 
At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Charlie said...

I think this is how balance works. No matter how optimistic or pessimistic we are, there seems to be an opposite thought which counter balance our thoughts.

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger PR Dept said...

Very interesting....
I've often reflected on this and prefer to substitute pessimism / optimism with constructive/unconstructive thinking. It is unconstructive to think "the lion won't eat me", particularly when one has access to us. with the latter approach both pessimistic and optimistic thinking can be constructive or unconstructive depending on the outcomes sought from such thinking...

 
At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Kevin. said...

Hi Jim,

Thought about this question a while. Pessimism seems to come from Gut instincts( in my opinion ) doing what you know to be inherently incorrect, yet you do it anyway, that seems to invoke pessimism. Having the courage to do what is inherently right, when everone else speaks out against it, however, your gut instinct tells you it is correct, is usually classified in the Optimism category. For the most part, I'de say, to balance follow your instincts, unfortunately or fortuanately, depending how you classsify the results, they have for the most part been correct all the time.

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger oli said...

I consider myself a pessimist... but people say I'm a realist. Let say I have to cross a bridge but I say to myself ''I wont be able to do it'' than I will think of alternative road like maybe swim across the river... Than I end up going back to the first solution and cross the bridge and in the event I cannot than I will say perfect let swim!!!

 

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