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The Difference Between Optimism And Pessimism

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B. Cade Massey once said that, “It 's gotten to the point where people really feel pressure to think and talk in an optimistic way” (Massey). Optimism is generally seen as healthy, while pessimism is generally seen as dangerous. The difference between optimism and pessimism is a difference in perspective and mindset. An optimist has a positive perspective, while a pessimist has a negative one. An optimist has a cheerful mindset, while a pessimist has a gloomy one. There are consequences to both perspectives. The difference in consequences, according to William James, is that, “Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.” However, assuming that it is moderated, pessimism is healthy for a person’s well-being. Pessimism is more realistic than…show more content…
According to Paul, “There 's nothing like a looming disaster to make us get things done” (Paul). In the real world, people’s experiences do not always work out as positively as expected, especially for optimists. Defensive pessimism motivates people with this reality in mind. According to Lawrence Sanna, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, “The interesting thing about people who engage in defensive pessimism is that they tend to be quite dynamic and successful” (The Uses and Abuses…). According to Andrew J. Elliot in A Motivational Analysis of Defensive Pessimism and Self-Handicapping, defensive pessimism is “a cognitive strategy that involves setting unrealistically low expectations and thinking through worst-case outcomes of an upcoming achievement situation” (Elliot, 370). Defensive pessimism leads to a want for success and a fear of failure, whereas optimism leads to an expectation of success and no fear of failure. In reality, both success and failure are inevitable. Therefore, adequate motivation must prepare for both scenarios. That is why defensive pessimism is healthy; it prepares people for the challenges and triumphs that come with life. In multiple studies undertaken by Elliot, it was found that a want for achievement and a fear of failure was more prominent for pessimistic people than for optimistic people. From his studies, Elliot concludes that a pessimistic “…individual is anxious about the…show more content…
The optimists have a positive perspective, while the pessimists have a negative perspective. Which mindset is healthier? The answer might seem obvious; people should think optimistically because positive thoughts are happier! However, optimism is a mindset, which does not necessarily equate to long term mental health. While pessimism is not as cheerful, it is more realistic because reality is not always positive. Pessimism is preparatory, while optimism produces temporal, ignorant, and unrealistic joy that leads to exaggerated grief. Because of this, a pessimistic perspective is healthier than a negative
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