Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Optimism vs. Pessimism

Dr. Sanity writes about optimism and pessimism, delusion and realism today. For more information read Martin Seligman's book Learned Optimism.

Here is what she says:

The huge advantage of the optimist becomes clear when reality in all its unpleasant aspects is faced unflinchingly and taken on. The optimist will work to identify strategies that have a potential for success and be much more likely to implement them. The optimist, because he or she is focused on success, will be quicker to abandon a failing strategy and substitute one with a greater chance of working.

While being optimistic does not guarantee success since it is only a psychological state; if success is possible, the optimist will have a great chance of finding it.

Pessimists on the other hand, are very good at looking at reality and acknowledging the unpleasantness; but the problem is that it makes them flinch, and they give up searching for solutions much earlier than the optimist would. Failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for the pessimist, who at heart believes that is the only possible outcome anyway. They can accuse the optimist of living in a "fantasyland", but that accusation can just as easily be applied to them, since "failure" can become a fantasy as readily as "success" can. Iraq is a case in point.
I'm an optimist. It's a scientific fact. Loads of psychological profiles have established this fact. Even still, I'd like to be more psychologically resiliant than I am. Watching Donald Trump fills me with admiration. Can you imagine being a billion dollars in debt and coming back? Now that takes some optimism.

Dr. Sanity goes on to discuss how your psychological outlook can filter how you see something like the War in Iraq.

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