Here is the second installment from my 16 year old nephew Richard’s ’Essays on the benefits and Wonders of what Society Deems as “Negative Traits”‘. (Click HERE to read the first). Enjoy!
Part 1: The Joy of Pessimism
PESSIMISM, n. A philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist
with his scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile.
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
US author & satirist (1842 – 1914)
The average member of a society, when hearing the word “Pessimism”, conjures up images of sour-faced, ill tempered individuals who darken those around them with their morose countenance. This is but an atypical example.
True Pessimists, myself included, have simply experienced enough of life’s trials and difficulties to conclude that things rarely, if ever, go as planned, and, more often than not, drown in the slough of inadequacy and disappointment. A true pessimist realizes that any hope in the things of this world will eventual succumb, suffocated by the festering miasma of time, dissatisfaction, and extraneous, albeit not unpredicted, circumstances.
There is a certain joy, however, reserved only for we true pessimists. Our mindset tends for us to set low expectations of life around us. The truth of the matter is, however, that in our civilized life, with our inexhaustible supply of resources, pursuits, and possibilities, things never fall too far into disarray. We pessimists, by keeping our expectations low, often see them fulfilled, despite the fact that all does not go to plan. Moreover, should everything go as planned, our expectations are fulfilled above and beyond what we had hoped for. This constant fulfilling, as a result, makes us happier individuals, for our lives progress far better than we expect. In this, optimism seems to the observing pessimist not only absurd, but oxymoronic. An optimist always has high expectations and hopes, which are rarely if ever fulfilled, yet they remain happy. A Calvin and Hobbes comic strip emphasizes the credo of we true pessimists best:
Calvin and Hobbes are walking in the woods. Calvin turns to Hobbes and asks, “If you could have one wish, what would it be?” Hobbes ponders this for while and replies, “A sandwich”. Calvin proceeds to condemn Hobbes as a fool for using his wish as such, listing all the things he could have wished for. At the end of their walk, Hobbes goes to the kitchen, makes himself a sandwich, and says, “I got my wish”.
In the end, true pessimists see their low expectations fulfilled all the time, and we are happier as a result, whereas optimists rarely see their high expectations fulfilled, but are still happy because they are optimists, always looking forward to the future.
If “40 is the new 30″, and “pink is the new black”, then it appears that “pessimism is the new optimism”!
What do you suppose his NEXT essay will be about???