How being realistic can be key to your wellbeing
The tendency to over-expect the probability of good things happening while negating the likelihood of anything bad happening is a common human trait.
Studies consistently show that a large majority of the population (about 80% according to most estimates) display an overly optimistic outlook.
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Pessimism, or having a bias towards a negative outcome, has a fan base too, as it seems that pessimists are immune to disappointment.
Their view of life already considers the worst possible outcome as the default one, and anything better than that can only improve it.
Losing something we already have is twice as much pain than gaining the same. This skewed feelings towards loss is known as loss aversion.
Expectations always dampen the feelings of happiness, always setting us up in advance for a dose of disappointment.
Both optimism and pessimism are judgemental biases that try to bend reality inside our minds and can lead to worse outcomes and suboptimal levels of happiness.
Being on either side can lead to poor decisions in career, finance and just about anything involving risk and uncertainty.
To make good decisions, one has to have accurate, reliable information, free from any bias or prejudice.
Realists tend to have the best cost-benefit ratio of handling uncertainty while maintaining a healthy level of well-being and happiness.
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Having a defensively pessimistic strategy can help one chart out a course of action to ensure that the mishaps that are envisioned do not turn into reality.
Example: Having a low expectation of an interview, along with brooding about what all could go wrong can help one practice harder and plan to avoid those outcomes.
While waiting for a piece of important news, being pessimistic has better health benefits than being overly optimistic.
If the news is not in one’s favour, the optimists take a bigger hit on their wellbeing, experiencing great disappointment, while the pessimists do not suffer as much, as they were already ready to take the hit.
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While we may have many good reasons to be pessimistic, we don't have to resign ourselves to it forever.
Optimism can be learned. Research reveals that optimists earn more money, have b...
Studies show that imagining your ideal future can increase your levels of optimism. Focusing on your dreams coming true turn your focus away from worrying about the worst possible outcome.
Imagine your ideal life in 10 years - what it would look like and how you would feel. Spend time considering family, career, romance or health. Now write it down once a week for the next two months.
When we expect the worst, we might be trying to protect ourselves from disappointment.
Disappointments are inevitable. We might as well have positive expectations that are occasionally proven wrong than negative expectations that are sometimes proven right.
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Defensive pessimism is a strategy used by people who are anxious about an upcoming event. They set unrealistically low expectations before going into a situation and take steps to avoid poor per...
Self-handicapping is where an individual will create obstacles for themselves before an ability-evaluating event. If it turned out poorly, the obstacles became an excuse or explanation for the failure. If it turned out positive, the obstacles became conquered hurdles.
Self-handicapping involves expecting the worst and self-sabotage.
When comparing defensive pessimists to anxious people who do not practice defensive pessimism, the defensive pessimists show these benefits:
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