Pessimism – a blessing in disguise

“Hi, Unni”


“Unni,Are you a pessimist?”

“Yes, i am a pessimist”

“Eww…bye Unni”

This has been my life since school days. I am a pessimist. Pessimism is a feeling, a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe the worst will happen. Friends, family,  society everybody hate pessimists. Almost everyone sees the dark side of pessimism. As a pessimist, let me show you some beautiful facts of pessimism.

Unlock Infinite dimensions of creativity

Pessimism is a portal to access infinite dimensions of creativity. Music, painting, dance… whatever be the form, pessimism opens the doorway to a unique way of thinking. A normal human being, a positive person can’t explore this world.Most of the masterpieces in arts are born from pessimist minds. One great example is the painting “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.

the scream
the scream

In his diary in an entry headed “Nice 22 January 1892”, Munch wrote: (source Wikipedia)

“I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”

Even a normal scene—walking along the road— became a source for one of the best paintings world has ever seen. This is the power of pessimist mind.

Ahead in receiving and processing information

A pessimist has the ability to receive and process information, especially from surroundings, better than normal people.This is possible because a pessimist is a keen observer of his surroundings. One good example is a situation where a pessimist traveling to a new place. He can absorb a lot of input/information from surroundings. He can portray more details of his journey which include: Face of strangers he thought might be kidnappers, details of vehicles he thought might hurt him etc etc. In short, a pessimist is a sherlock holmes especially when he is facing the outside world.

“Shock absorbent” mind

Rahul, the optimist, planned a tour to Switzerland next month. Day and night Rahul was lost in the thoughts, pondering about his plan. Meeting his childhood girlfriend, romantic candlelight dinner, surprising her with a diamond ring (including a passionate kiss ;-)). His zest was clearly visible. Unfortunately,2 days before the journey, he saw the latest Facebook status of his girlfriend-“Engaged to Edward!!!” Rahul’s optimistic mind couldn’t handle the sudden shock and now he is a mental patient.

Rahul isn’t the only one who is sad/shocked when life moves against or away from the plan. A pessimist, however, imagines worst-case scenarios. Though always imagining negative is not good, but this strengthens the mind, makes it “shock absorbent”. A pessimist mind, like a supercomputer, simulates all possible and impossible scenarios. Trouble or tragedies can surprise the pessimist mind the least. (I wish Rahul were a pessimist)

Pessimism is a stepping-stone towards the Spiritual path. Someone who can see the pain and suffering in life is the one who seeks spirituality. How can an optimist walk towards spiritual path when he sees positivity and opportunities everywhere in the materialistic world? Over-positivity is a sugar-coated life, which hides the basic realities of life—disease, old age, death. Every religion is a mix of optimism and pessimism. Every religious book mentions apocalypse and describes it using scary details. This pessimism is well balanced by optimism, assuring the believers that God will save the people who are kind at heart. “Avoiding pessimism completely never gives u permanent happiness.” Like religious scriptures is a mix of pessimism and optimism, we should welcome pessimism.

Positive effect in the world

We love positive people —optimists. Even giant multi-national companies love them. Optimists are forefront in creating and changing the world— from innovative designs of buildings to creating most modern modes of transportation. I see a group of optimists as the people who built Titanic. A crew member once said to a passenger,”God himself could not sink this ship.” Well, you know what happened in the end.

A world without pessimists is chaos. Everything in the real world needs a pessimistic approach to save millions of lives. A civil engineer must think like a pessimist when he designs a bridge or a building. A team of engineers who design an airplane must think about the adverse conditions.

I would like to add my personal viewpoint here,”A woman who is a pessimist is least vulnerable to physical abuse”. Imagine a situation where a woman has to travel alone, especially at night. The pessimist woman either avoids the journey or will carry some self-defense kit which includes pepper spray, stun gun etc. An optimist woman, who is highly excited about the journey, carries her pink dress and makeup items in a bag. When a strong man tries to attack her, attempts to abuse her, optimist woman has nothing to defend.

Everything has a dual nature, including pessimism. Pessimism also has its ups and downs. Rejecting every opportunity in life because of negative thoughts is worse than death. Learn to use the power of pessimism to plan ahead in future. I am against those people who see pessimists as some kind of monster. Whatever be the field: Computer programming, Civil engineering, Space research… every team needs a pessimist to think outside the box. When I had been working for an IT company as programmer, it is my pessimism that helped me to foresee errors of software. Else the error would only be known after few years making it difficult to fix.

When someone calls you a pessimist, don’t be sad 🙂 You are lucky because you have this “dark energy” to create masterpieces, save a million lives, change the world. Use this double-edged sword carefully. 🙂