Is this glass half-full?
Or is it half-empty?
The answer, according to some, can give us an idea of whether we are pessimists, or perhaps, shed light on particular tendencies lurking in our mental processing that would be categorized as such.
Although, there may be too many factors present to reach a conclusion with just one question.
I mean, we could just be having a bad day and an attitude that coincides, or, maybe we are slightly negative people, but not necessarily a pessimist.
However, a “negative person” is a rather evident clue that a true pessimist may be behind the bitter persona.
I like my paraphrased analogy that Jim Rohn used when speaking on the subject:
“A man walks to the window that has a clear view of one of the most majestic sunsets the summer skies can produce. . .
And he can’t see past the specs on the glass!”
One reason I prefer this analogy is because the example identifies the core issue with this kind of attitude:
We miss out on any good!
In the case of depression, this good, could be all that is left to give us the jolt of life that we need.
Pessimism is defined as an attitude.
An attitude, as one dictionary describes it, is, a settled way of thinking or feeling about something which is typically reflected in ones behavior.
According to Joshua Foa Dienstag of University of California, the word first appeared in the 1700’s, inside a novel in which a character was accused of “pessimisme”.
Apparently, for some time this has been a philosophy as well.
That is, some people lived by a pessimistic word-view.
One notable feller is this guy, Arthur Schopenhauer.
Here’s a quote that may offer some sort of perspective in to the mind of a pessimist from ol’ Arthur here:
“All satisfaction, or what is commonly called happiness, is really called happiness, is really essentially always negative only, and never positive.”
Beyond philosophy there are solo-forms of it present in some of our lives.
The belief that technology will not lead to human advancements, and, the notion that industrial revolution was a disaster for the humans species.
The person is now against the present, and future of these things, but they do not know what these futures actually hold.
Psychologically, it was once associated with melancholy, a kind of depression.
Hippocrates, a Greek philosopher, theorized that the human body contained four fluids: blood, yellow and black bile, and phlegm.
If they became out of balance, the human can fall sick.
An overabundance of black bile was associated with a particular sadness, and in some cases, pessimism.
The greeks called melancholia, which some say was the first word used to describe depression, as well as the first try to study/diagnose it.
Pessimism and depression may be associated with one another, but there is one element that can distinguish between the two: an argument.
Depressed people don’t typically argue to keep that which has dampened their mood, but a pessimist, they will argue their belief systems.
However, in the case of depression, being a pessimist (even if an argument is valid/sound as to why we view life this way) is still, fundamentally speaking: an element that WILL prevent us from getting to a better place.
I wasn’t always a pessimist, I used to be a happy and adventurous kid.
Eventually, life came with some unfortunate times, as it does all of us, and they came in succession.
Life, overall, seemed to decline with every experience, so, I believe my mind began anticipating the bad to come.
Every day life was a anticipation of the bad to inevitably come.
But as I mentioned above, it spreads further than simply preventing us from seeing a gorgeous arrangement of clouds on any given day.
Every day plans; movies going to be watched, food that was being cooked, was all going to turn out bad.
Life became bitter, but I was not opposed to it.
Life in itself was a place where there is no good, and I began to believe this as my current reality.
In the case of depression where there could very well be other mental antagonist active, (that mesh will with this attitude) this could be a recipe for DISASTER.
We humans cannot accomplish much in life if we don’t care to try.
If we have a belief that there is no good to come, we may sabotage our only chances to experience something a bit brighter.
We are all different, and some factors of depression may be more difficult to overcome; self-esteem issues or suicidal ideation, but this one is quite straight forward.
Although, being a paradox of depression, it is still a formidable foe and should be respected as such.
Nevertheless, I have to say, simple things helped me abolish this kind of attitude and it began with a plain ol’ reversal of thinking.
For me personally, (and this took years to “see” differently), it is a rather simple process to improve the negative-outlook-on-everything syndrome.
(I would research further, of-course.)
However, I happen to have made a large amount of progress in this category.
So I shall share 3 tricks I used to help make my eyeballs see more than just what was about to go wrong.
We are all different, so they may not work, and be about as useful as a pen with no ink.
But, I have a good 10-15 years in on being like this, so. . .
That is quite some time in on trying to eliminate my Oscar The Grouch tendencies.
And I have to say, it was a strong force.
I would even grumble about chocolate ice-cream, and I love Chocolate ice-cream.
So, they must be, kind-of, helpful.
Here they are:
Trick Number 1 – I Filled My Ears Up
I can’t remember how, but I was introduced to a dude named Les Brown.
I had never heard anyone talk like this before, but it seemed to have an immediate affect upon my self.
Some would say he is a motivational speaker, but I have to admit, my hope grew well before motivation, and he was a direct influence to this happening.
I started listening to him every day.
Perhaps it was the idea of hope in itself that made the real effect, but some people are just made to be speaking to zombified humans trapped in their own dark clouds.
Then I found Jim Rohn.
He presented a new philosophy for life and in many categories to my puzzled, cloudy brain.
In addition to hope from Les Brown, practical ideas on how to improve as a person and as a result, improve the overall quality of life, were extended every-time I would:
What is compelling about some stories is that they come from nothing, a place that is hard to get out of.
And some of Eric Thomas’ videos I had on replay for years.
The motivation came from this guy.
I would have ear buds in (still do) most of the day, and their voices were all I heard.
When I first began doing this, I was literally drowning out the noise of my own thoughts, as at this time I felt I had no control over them.
I know this sounds like avoidance coping, which can be counterproductive in some cases, but overtime this proved to be beneficial.
I began to think differently.
And early on when I didn’t even want to wake up, some of their voices are the only reason I tried those days.
(They helped with my overall depression.)
But more importantly, new beliefs were being passed and essentially fused in to my currently shattered and hopeless ego.
Practical questions and plans to get life in order was shared, everyday.
Years later, now, although still in a life that is not optimal to me, I can say they laid the foundation to a road out of a pessimistic worldview .
This ultimately forced my eyes to look beyond all that was wrong or going to be wrong.
It offered my heart new options besides, bitterness.
And it overwhelmed the negative talk so that it did not have much of a voice as before.
We can’t just put on ear buds and expect things to change, no, I know, but maybe we aren’t ready to change (let alone our life).
And, we have to get lost in new sound.
It’s going to take longer than 10 days to fix a problem that has been developing for 10+ years.
But I suppose you can say they prepped my mind and heart with the idea of something new, and better.
So, find a human that is a professional on whatever area is thwarted in your life.
Read all they have and listen to all of their speeches.
Over and over.
Trick Number 2 – Think, Think, Think
I began to question my own thinking.
Not the pessimism in itself, but the very specific reasons for my micro-internal protests.
When I added this practice with the new ideas flowing in my brain from the dudes above, I began to see easy (as-well as hard) repairs to some things in my life.
Interestingly enough, when I began asking my own self why I had beliefs like:
“A good day will never happen.”
“Nothing good will come this year.”
“There is no such thing as happiness”
“People will just hurt you.”
. . . They didn’t make much sense.
I suppose you could say this task is nothing but, asking:
(Although, this was a year or so of listening to the gentleman above.)
However, I noticed that a lot of what I believed was not attached to anything that would make these beliefs, true.
My mind would darken my mood towards most experiences as if any good that could be there, had been edited out before I observed it.
That is, the potential for anything good happening was not even apart of any life equation.
I heard this phrase once:
“If you change the way you see things, the things around you change.”
I always thought this idea was ridiculous.
But, what I have learned is that, when you choose not to see the bad things in life, all that is left is the good.
And there may not be that much good for some, I know this was the case for me.
“Hey, look at the bright side of things!”
Me looking at the bright side of things:
However, there is this other thing that seemed to be peaking around every corner: opportunity.
That is, the chance to make things better.
A chance to add some good to the picture.
It is a rather simple concept, although, when our belief systems become hijacked by thinking distortions, some humans can remain trapped in the behavior cycles these create, for the rest of their lives.
But we are impulsive creatures so I see how this could happen to us.
So, for me, the whole thinking process essentially illuminated other doors to other options that I had not seen (or, should I say, couldn’t see).
As a result of realizing my thinking had no real truth worth standing by.
Food for thought.
Trick Number 3 – Daydream
So I had new ideas flowing in my head.
New philosophies to live by echoing throughout the day.
Motivation was getting warmed up.
Inspiration was boiling.
However, even with a grandmaster plan to change things, and take a leap to a new life, there still was years of work left.
Nothing was instant.
When I began to write my own personal goals, early on, the distance to reach them was so far it was hard to believe it was possible.
Still do in a lot of cases.
In these early stages, the only relief from this separation who I was and who I wanted to be was, to day dream.
I would imagine myself attaining what I wanted, almost as if I was there.
I would picture everything how I want it to be; the house, the car, the library, the businesses, the success.
I went to where I wanted to be.
And then I would come back and get back to work.
In addition, it helped make all the future work feel like it will be worth it.
So beneficial to me, I have since had to put a time limit on how much I did it.
Eric Thomas would say, “Go to your future!”
And that’s what it is.
Just a taste of what could come, if we choose to go after it.
Let’s face it, it is easier not to try.
It’s easier to stay the same.
This easy-choice-taking, takes a toll.
Even for pessimism; it most likely grew overtime, and only at a matured state began to influence the persons thinking so much that their behavior followed.
Further, someone that does not wish to try, won’t.
Nothing will ever change for that person.
This is never more true for our thinking.
We can choose to stay in the slums emotionally, or we can climb out.
It is our choice.
Life could seem horrid, a place that only a mad-man would want to live, but perhaps all we need is a good ol’ attitude adjustment.
Life is not all that good, but opportunity to change things is present in many areas.
Just takes time.
I’d rather be working hard to build a beautiful life then working hard to keep one that is ugly (which pessimism will hold us to).
But, we can’t build anything if we can’t see it as a possibility.
We can’t see if we are pessimist.