The Power of Pessimism 

There is a big, happy, smiling, cloud shading our world from the UV light and it’s called positive thinking. It very well might be the same cloud from the Mario video game franchise, but I’m not sure, I’m not a scientist. Positive thinking or optimism is as American as apple pie, and Oprah Winfrey is serving us the slice with her gentle, warm, you-can-do-it-too Oprah smile. Go ahead, take the slice and grab the chair over there next to Tony Robbins. I know you want to, I want to. Positive thinking works well because we the people enjoy the idea of feeling good and believing life gets better everyday. It’s a great legal drug that’s being pushed on us and we all take the drug eyes-wide-open, hearts on our sleeve, smiling as we inject the sweet medicine into our veins.

Self help books and pop culture have made a fortune prescribing optimism and the benefits are well, what can I say? They’re beneficial. The popular narrative is when you think positively, your dreams will come true, you’ll wake up with a million dollars and you’ll start farting rainbows. Myself, a born realist, was enticed by the sheer thought of farting a rainbow. Thus I swallowed my pride and became an optimist. I do not regret it.

However, it wasn’t until very recently that fate struck his forceful hand and I read a Carl Jacobi quote that said “Invert always invert.” As my eyes soaked in these iron words, it was at this exact moment that my brain began to ponder and then I knew I was fucked. Not in a bad way, not in a sexual way, and not even in a good way. I was mind fucked, my beliefs had been challenged and my eyes were jarred opened to the power of pessimistic thinking.

So welcome to the dark side my friend, the pessimistic side, the side where the forecast is bleak and you just miss the morning cut off for breakfast at McDonalds. I’m here to walk you through the benefits of pessimistic thinking in relation to goal setting, problem solving and trouble shooting. To appreciate the value of pessimistic thinking I’m first going to address how positive thinking can fail us. 

How Positive Thinking Can Fail Us.

When we optimistically set goals for ourselves, or optimistically seek to solve problems, our heart is in the correct place but our mind isn’t. Essentially, what we are doing is blowing hot, helium air up our ass and waiting to float. I’ll be fair, who doesn’t like the helium treatment? I won’t judge you. I’m a converted optimist remember? Pinky promise. I even go to the meetings damnit! We drink and laugh with our optimistic, grab-the-world-by-its-balls friends and ignore our the tingly, subtle pain in our Achilles heal. I’m here to tell you that there is a chink in the amour of positive thinking. Positive thinking can fail us in two ways, as it doesn’t prepare us for the worst case scenario, and it doesn’t motivate us to work harder.

Most are aware of the expression “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst” Most also fail to apply this expression. The problem with only thinking positively, is when you filter out the worst case scenario, and if you ever fall into it, it lives up to it’s title: The worst case scenario. Once you are in the worst case scenario, there isn’t any amount of positive thinking that can lift you from the icy depths. You will find yourself surprised, frustrated, hurt and your heart will suffer greatly. Yes, positive thinking is a great tool to ease your mind but addressing the issues head on is the only way to climb out, and it’s an uphill, rocky, unforgiving climb.

Hey Bro. So I totally just meditated that I’m the man, and I’m going to make a million dollars today. After I catch some waves, I can just go to the bank and it’ll magically appear right? Wrong. Bro. An issue with positive thinking is although it’s great to envision what you want as it forces you to work towards your goals; we often miss the key word, work. Many die-hard optimist thinkers succeed in identifying their goal but fail to work towards their goal. No amount of positive or wishful thinking will make anything magically appear. Sorry, no refunds. It’s when you actually begin to work towards your goals, is when you start to notice the coincidences and the opportunities start to “Magically” appear; don’t tell Houdini. By focusing in on what you want with laser precision, you can then intelligently work towards achieving your goals. Pretty crazy right? They don’t even teach that at Hogwarts anymore.

How To Positively Pessimistically Think.

Pessimistic thinking has gotten a bad wrap for years. Hell, I’ve even been the guy that wielded a pitchfork, a torch and led a million man march to a pessimist’s house with optimistically dark intentions…

Reading the quote “Invert always invert” has completely flipped the switch on me and it was a forceful flip. It forced me to factor in pessimistic thinking or in other words, inversion thinking.

So what is inversion thinking? Inversion thinking is looking at problems from the perspective of what is the number one thing I can do to guarantee that I wont reach my desired outcome.

This is beautifully simple logic which shows the true power of pessimistic thinking in relation to goal setting, problem solving and trouble shooting. It allows us to clearly identify our worst cast scenario, which then in turn provides us with a game plan to achieve success. After all, if you spend your time avoiding failure you are sure to win!

Let us use the example of trying to loose weight. Cliché’ I know. Common? Yes. If you wanted to guarantee that you wouldn’t lose weight what would you do?

  • Eat junk food
  • Never workout
  • Drink soda
  • Never eat healthy food
  • Never be active
  • Spend your free time watching TV

Inversion thinking clearly lists the steps of what exactly to do if we don’t want to achieve our goals. The path to success is usually the opposite of what we wrote down. If you wanted to be healthy you would

  • Not eat junk food.
  • Workout
  • Not drink soda
  • Eat healthy food
  • Be active
  • Watch less TV

You see, knowing exactly what not to do gives us the clearest plan of what exactly to do. This is the merit of pessimistic thinking. This is a cool little hack can also be applied to every situation.

Another benefit of pessimistic thinking is, well, what was the scientific expression for this? Ahh yes, it forces you to pull your head out of your ass. No lube. As stated earlier it is a GOOD thing to know what you want and pursue it with an unrelenting drive. It’s a GREAT thing to be realistic about your approach. Shades of pessimistic thinking allows one to realistically come up with a game plan to achieve your desired results. By no means am I saying be extremely negative and sour with your outlook on life. That in no way shape or form can ever be beneficial to you. Ever. I’m saying use pessimistic thinking so you can set achievable goals opposed to unrealistic goals. It forces you to pull the helium air out of your ass and start working with a guided, tailor-made plan.

Let’s Meet In The Middle and Hold Hands

That’s so 2015 right? The meeting in the middle part that is. There are two sides to every coin, there is good and evil, there is positive and negative energy, there is yin and yang and there is math class and gym class. Knowing that there are two sides to everything is my blessing and my curse.

When it comes to goal setting, problem solving and trouble shooting, the key is to acknowledge both perspectives. Truly apply the expression “Hope for the best but plan for the worst” Truly have a positive outlook on life but be aware of what can go wrong. Truly hope for a better tomorrow but address your pitfalls today. Even the stars in the sky rely on the darkness to magnify their beauty. Most importantly, always address where you can go wrong and work your ass off so it doesn’t happen. Work always wins.

Comment, share, and let me know how pessimistic thinking has helped you, or combat my views. I don’t care. But I will respond.

127 thoughts on “The Power of Pessimism 

  1. I wouldn’t combat with anything that’s written half as humorously as that. And, besides, what you’re pointing out is absolutely true. I mean, all the maths in the world wouldn’t get you the girl you want if you don’t hit the gym class, right? We need both sides of the coin to make it work. Thanks for the great post!

  2. I wouldn’t combat with anything written half so humorously as that. And, besides, what you’re pointing out is true. I mean, all the maths class in the world wouldn’t get you the girl you want if you don’t hit the Gym class, right? We need both sides of the coin to make it work. Thanks for the great post!

  3. Hey, I wouldn’t combat anything written half as humorously as this. And, besides, what you’re pointing out is true. I mean, all the maths in the world wouldn’t help you get the girl you want if you don’t hit the Gym class, right? We need both the sides of the coin to make it work. Thanks for a great post!

  4. Funny stuff. And many truths here! I like that you don’t overtly seem to try to be funny. You’re simply realistic; but in being so, you’re terribly funny. :0) I used to be Suzy Sunshine and had to be positive like- 24/7. But then crap kept going wrong (HUGE crap- not small stuff) and made me rethink a few things. I’m still nauseatingly hopeful much of the time- but I now prefer life in A min. vs. C maj. (Also, I like to rehearse this one daily mantra, “There’s no such thing as ‘can’t’. Just ‘won’t.'”

    See? I try to be pessimistic, I really do, but damn it…old habits die hard!

    1. Thank you very much, i’m glad you appreciate it.

      ……sounds like a huge crap…..grab the plunger =)

      lol at my core I’m a die hard optimist as well, old habit do die hard but in this case it is a GREAT thing.

      Thanks again for reading.

  5. I totally get this! A fresh way of using pessimism to our advantage. You have a fantastic writing style: fun and lively with original imagery and you can tell it’s from the heart. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    1. Hey I appreciate the feedback! I’ve just started to really focus on writing so I’m happy to see where the journey takes me and for that matter us. Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Trust in the Lord but tie up your camel as a wise woman once said 😉

    Great thoughts thank you, I am an optimist with a solid backing of realism (and laziness sadly) – balance in all things.

    1. Hey Keisha,

      Thank you so much, I do appreciate the compliment! I’m intrigued to read more about the book you’re writing. Looking forward to the next blog.

  7. I really like the approach you suggest by writing down what won’t work. I’m going to try that the next few times I goal set. I feel I’m usually realistic, but I do sometime challenge myself to crazy notions. Like thinking one day, I want to see if I can perform with Cirque du Soliel, just to see if my sheer will power can get me that far. And it did! But having a list like that might have helped me get there more effectively

    1. That’s awesome that you were able to make your dreams come true! Thanks for reading my article, keep me posted on how the advice works out!

  8. This is such a refreshing take on pessimism. People keep saying that being negative and thinking about the worst case scenario will never get you anywhere, but I think it prepares us to face the worst should it happen. Amazing article! Thank you for this. 😀

  9. Reblogged this on ofchocolateandlemons and commented:
    ‘Even the stars in the sky rely on the darkness to magnify their beauty.’

    Optimism doesn’t work all the time, for we need to know and realize the consequences of being too optimistic and taking risks without being prepared to put in the effort required to achieve something. Having said that, while I do agree that a certain degree of pessimism can motivate, too much of it will definitely be toxic. Moderation is the key 🔑, don’t you think? 🙂

  10. Inversion Thinking? It sounds so simple. I’ll give it a go, thank you.

    Also, “Even the stars in the sky rely on the darkness to magnify their beauty”. If that isn’t on the bedroom wall of a 15 year old girl somewhere out there, I’ll sit on a cactus. No lube.

    Thanks for liking my post [].

  11. Reblogged this on Me4ever™ and commented:
    This is what I’ve been preaching to annoying pessimists for ages. This writer’s sarcastic humorous perspective is definitely effective. Much better than my frequent stomp on positive balls but hey! That’s just me4ever. See what I did there 🙂 Great Article.

  12. I can dig it. Even though after I read the part about missing the cut-off for breakfast at McDonalds I went into a hulk like rage. Thankfully I was able to calm down and read the rest. Great post.

    1. Hey,

      Glad you liked it! Thank goodness you didn’t go full Hulk; otherwise I would have to call Batman on you 😉

  13. I’m optimistic that thinking pessimistically will help foster an ironic optimistic expectation without deadening your mind to the chance of failure.

  14. Hello Sir! thanks for liking my posts and making WordPress a less depressing site!! (Twitter is much more sad!) An ur likes are very encouraging!
    I recently saw ur blog and noticed you are celebrity on WordPress! So people giving u a damn in social media!
    I love ur take on things!! Taking ur blog slowly because pessimism is such a strong emotion it deals with the way we lead our lives!!
    I like your humor and am Inspired by it! Would love to share more but yeah you don’t give a shit! 🙂

      1. Sir yes Sir! Looking forward to your posts! It’s nice you can write the extremes of light philosophy and humour! To a happy week ahead! Cheers 🙂

  15. I agree…We can’t just know our strengths and be happy, at the same time we need to know our weaknesses and work on it to perfect those…without these we won’t have growth…as simple as this…

  16. Now that I am marinating in my own personal realities, I look at this article with much agreement. Had I not had an ounce of pessimistic thinking, I would have not left an unhealthy situation. Wisdom tells us to think about both….the good and the bad. Pessimism….the way life unfolds in our heads is not always the reality of what is and what it will be in real life.
    This article has me thinking. Thank you!☺

      1. I had to completely end my day and brew my coffee to answer your question…..which is simple enough, yet complex. 😊
        My conclusion to my life and life in general, is that there is no conclusion. Ask me the same question in 50 years and I will have the same answer. There will always be something to learn and always someone to love. It is amazing how that love changes your world and redirects your steps.
        I am 30 years old, and my 30th year of life is the first year that I have truly understood what love is. It became my pursuit and what I acted upon……and it is still my pursuit. You may be surprised at what you are willing to let go of in your pursuit for anything……your pride, your ego, your comfort, your fear, but never your safety . It is amazing how strong we are as humans, when we need to be, and how resilient we are.

  17. Thank you for liking my post! This is an amazing article! I love your humor! I need to implement this into my life; I’m such an optimist, I refuse to acknowledge that bad outcomes can happen (yikes!).

    1. I appreciate the compliment! I like your writings aswell! If you do implement it, let me know how you like it.

  18. Absolutely amazing article! Hilarious and great advice to help keep you grounded. I cracked up (dogs were looking at me like I lost my mind) at this part:

    “Hell, I’ve even been the guy that wielded a pitchfork, a torch and led a million man march to a pessimist’s house with optimistically dark intentions…”

    😀 Seriously, I can picture that in my mind.

    Definitely a lot to think about and kinda shows/tells me that too much of any one particular thing is harmful.

    1. Hi Susan, I’m glad you liked it! I’m sure your dogs were thinking “ahhhh what?” Moderation is key thanks for stopping by

      1. Definitely 🙂 And thank you for liking my story I posted today …The “Bar” Story.
        Gonna keep a look out for your posts. I totally dig your style. 🙂

  19. Hey tony! Thanks for following! And awesome article with a very unusual point of view! Many truths! I have always fought against my pessimistic side, but after reading this maybe I’ll fight it off a little less 😉 xoxo

    1. That’s what I like to hear! The truth is served in a variety of ways . Thanks for reading I do appreciate it.

  20. Hello there!
    Well, just wanted to tell the guy behind this blog that he is doing good for himself. Not sure if this good involves the blog posts he writes(since the posts are to long for me to read the whole thing, but I get the idea), but I am glad about the way you think and probably act in real life. Keep up this spirit and the sarcasm. Sarcasm is a need for surviving in this beautiful world, isn’t it!?

    1. Hey this goes to the girl behind this very comment, – thank you very much for the kind words! Sarcasm and humor in general is important, because let’s face it we’re all gonna die one day might as well enjoy the ride! Hope this wan’t too long for you to read it all the way through 😉 thanks again and I appreciate your writing voice, I like it so I gave you the follow.

      1. Haha, there! I smell sarcasm yet again and as long as that’s not dead, I don’t mind reading what you write here. 🙂
        Also, thank you. Glad you appreciate the writing.

  21. Funny stuff! I actually had the opposite problem you did – I spent most of my life being overly pessimistic. It’s taken lots of work to become more optimistic. However, I’ve still managed to keep just enough pessimism to stay realistic.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  22. I have always been on crossroads with pessimism and optimism. . I have always felt guilty when at times I let the P win. .hence, this post just made me smile. . Thanks for sharing. Iam so happy that I found you. . So check out my writings too, will appreciate your reviews ❤

  23. great post buddy! thank you for sharing! my thought is “everything popular is wrong” -tim ferris. I like the way you put things into perspective in this post. Take care!

  24. Enjoyed your post. Because I’m old(er) I could relate to the whole positive/negative binary, having gone through it plenty in my younger years. Now that I’m a meditator and have studied Buddhist philosophy for years, I know that detachment relieves one of the binary. It’s not either/or but rather both/neither. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. lol. Buddhist thinking takes the power out of the struggle to reconcile and gives the power back to you. 🙂

  25. Interesting perspective ~~ I like reading something that turns common thought on its head.
    Thanks for sharing! I appreciate your reading my post. All the Best!

  26. I’m an optimistic pessimist so I guess I fit the emotion you’re advocating here! Never say die – but be prepared for all outcomes!

  27. Oh what a wonderful way to think, I was in fact planning to write a poem on the same subject but in a different manner. I agree with you completely, such a fun read! Thanks 🙂

  28. Hahahaha !!! Hilariously true and charmingly intelligent ! Loved this one ! Thank you so much for dropping by and liking a post – it gave me a wonderful chance to bump into your blog 🙂 looking forward to more from here. Great posts 🙂 cheers.

    1. The meetings are every Tuesday at the usual spot, I expect to see you there 😉 thank you for the kind words it honestly gives me motivation to keep writing so I want you to know I do appreciate that

  29. This is great! It is kind of difficult for me to laugh while I am reading something, but your post definitely had that effect on me. Thanks for
    being so realistic! Excited to see what you come up with next.

    P.s. Thanks for the follow 🙂

Leave a Reply