I’ve had an interesting day today. I had an interview for a job which went surprisingly well, although I probably won’t get it. I also had my penultimate counselling session this morning.
As always during my counselling session, we discussed a range of things. Some going over old ground and some thought provoking discussions. However, we also discussed thoughts and feelings and considered my views on events and the future. I’ve decided that, by nature I have a pessimistic view to life. Just look that the first paragraph again. You can see the negativity following the good interview statement.
Pessimism is a safety net
When I think about it I have always had a ‘half empty’ view of life. I think it is the fail safe for a great number of people. If we prepare for the worst then we are ready for it when it happens. Anything positive is, therefore, a bonus. It must be a psychological safety net. There is nothing wrong with being safety conscious in the crazy world we now find ourselves living in.
But pessimism is not such a bad thing really. My counsellor gave a brilliant analogy. She stated that it is a good defence mechanism. “If the caveman” she said “had not had an element of caution then the human race might have been wiped out”. I further endorsed this by mentioning that the Do-do became extinct (partly) because it had no fear of humans – laughably I considered that the Do-do was not stupid, it was an optimist.
I could have started this blog by saying that it would have been an utter waste of time writing it. Nobody would read it and if they did I would only get negative comments. I would then probably cry into my coffee and go to bed. Undoubtedly, I would be pelted with rotten vegetables as I head out to the shops. But it hasn’t happened – ever. Even after taking the first steps into the world of writing where I was at my most vulnerable.
Past giving a hoot.
As time has developed during my writing, I have been more and more open and honest. I have left myself exposed to critism and perhaps even ridicule. But no, it hasn’t happened. I’ve not been looking for it because that kind of ‘thing’ finds you. I’m sure people do have a negative view about what I have said but I have probably, unconsciously, dismissed it.
It doesn’t mean that what I say, write or do is correct. It just means that my ‘defensive pessimism’ has worn off a little bit and I am delighted to call myself a ‘writer’.
But why are we drawn to pessimism?
Why do we read writers who are profoundly pessimistic? And what sense are we to make of their work in our ordinary, hopefully not uncheerful lives?
I’m lucky enough to write two blogs. This one of which I consider to be deep and meaningful. I hope people heed my words or value my advice and perhaps act upon it. My other blog (www.thecheltenhamhurrah.com) is a look at the funny side of life in my (now) hometown. It is a comedy poke at life that I hope entertains. It has ‘throw away’ comments that I hope people giggle at then move on to their next activity. Two very opposite characteristics that feed off each other amazingly well. But not all pessimists have the same fondness for my kind of comedy which is perfectly ok. On both blogs I cater for those that want to read them. Not for people who dismiss them.
It’s all very entertaining
Modern society as a whole, tends toward a sort of institutional pessimism. Soap operas are based upon negative situations and ‘bust ups’ in the local pub, people sleeping behind the backs of other people and so on. Yet we see this as a form of entertainment. We watch people being banished to remote islands to watch them fail in their endeavours. People are put into a locked house and we watch them argue and fall out. Yet we are encouraged to believe happiness is at least potentially available for all as the ‘dramas’ fade into another story.
But when we look at life we can see that it is filled with misery and pain and if we managed to escape these, boredom would lie in wait at every corner. In effect, we have embraced the evil side of life. The ‘baddy’ in films always has the nice car, nice clothes and is the best character to play. In general, playing the baddy is always the most sought after by actors around the world. There would be no story without one. The news headlines always tell us negative stories. Occasionally a happy story comes along about a dog who can talk or something, yet we still watch the news – sometimes four times a day. Why? Well perhaps we like to know that other people lives are worse than ours.
Pessimism? It could be worse.
When I think about it we always moan about the negative person in the office or down the pub. I have found myself avoiding these people on a number of occasions. I may have crossed the road or dived into a shop before I was spotted. But think of the alternative. The over-happy, in your face, type of person is even worse to endure. We leave that kind of person for children’s TV (where they belong). So being a pessimist is not such a bad thing after all.
Yes, I’m a pessimist but it could be worse. By saying that am I now an optimist?