“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ― Winston S. Churchill
Rainbows and unicorns
Before Taking Positive Psychology my thoughts about the course were that it would be entirely about how everyone could be an optimist if they tried and here is the way to get there. I thought the course would quite literally be rainbows and unicorns along with learning how to turn the other cheek.
What? Pessimism can be good?
An Ah-Ha moment for me was learning about Pessimism. It was pleasantly surprising and a little embarrassing to not realize how important pessimism truly is to our nature and even survival. I was struck that pessimism was not intended to be a negative as it is commonly used, but as simply another legitimate term that must be understood to better understand ourselves.
Grounded in reality
Positive Psychology opened my eyes to the fact that without pessimism a true optimist would not last long in this world. It is pessimism that helps to ground us and keep us from doing ourselves harm. A true optimist may gamble a family’s life savings believing entirely that everything will turn or they may get into a bind by walking down the dark alley at night only expecting to benefit from the short cut home. On the flip side a true pessimist may become a recluse and never really experience life. I have taken both of these concepts to heart and have become determined to balance them effectively. In my “ah-ha” moment I took a personal assessment of where I was on the spectrum between pessimism and optimism. I had always considered myself to be an optimist and I was curious to evaluate and see if it had been to my detriment. I concluded that I was still an optimist and in a safe part of the pool so to speak, but I did recall moments in which my optimism had led me to failure. I traced the failures to very simple, well-intentioned, hopeful moments where I had assured myself, despite the facts, that everything would work in out. My wife is a wonderful person and mirrors my position on the scale as she tends to be more pessimistic. I had thought her to not be adventurous, which she admits at times is the case, but she has also led our family to great prosperity by making more fact based choices. I am able to appreciate that quality in her as I had never thought of it that way anymore. We now help to balance each other.
About the author: Scott R. Adam served his country as a Marine and is currently completing my B.S. in Criminal Justice. He has been attending Chaminade University since 2011. Once he completes his schooling he and his family, his wife and daughter, hope to reunite with the Marine corp where he hopes to serve as a Marine Corps officer.