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How being realistic can be key to your wellbeing

The Advocates for Pessimism

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.

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How being realistic can be key to your wellbeing

How being realistic can be key to your wellbeing

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200722-how-being-realistic-can-be-key-to-your-wellbeing

bbc.com

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Key Ideas

Unrealistic Optimism

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.

The Advocates for Pessimism

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.

Loss Aversion

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.

Two Sides Of The Same Coin

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.

Good Realistic Decisions

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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Defensive Pessimism
Defensive Pessimism
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Setting Low Expectations

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.

Pessimism As Insurance

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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Pessimism vs optimism

While we may have many good reasons to be pessimistic, we don't have to resign ourselves to it forever.

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Visualize your best possible self

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.

Accept disappointment

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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Learned Optimism in Psychology
Learned Optimism in Psychology

This is a concept that suggests that we can always change our attitude and behaviour, be aware of our thoughts and stop our negative self-talk.

Learned Optimism is a positi...

Pessimism Vs Optimism

Pessimism is defined as the anticipation of good or bad things to happen in the future, while optimism is generally considered the opposite. Optimism can be defined as the individual difference variable reflecting the extent of which we hold positive expectancies for the upcoming event.

The ways in which we think affects our health, well-being and success, even though the situations are the same.

Benefits of Optimism
  • A positive impact on many aspects of physical and mental health.
  • Provides motivation to work harder.
  • Greater career success in life.

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