The Psychology of Pessimism

The glass is half-empty and storm clouds loom overhead, never with a silver lining. Pessimists get a lot of flak for their inclination toward negativity and their tendency to expect the worst in most situations. Besides taking a toll on their mental health, their physical health may take a beating, too. Pessimism is associated with anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, hostility, high blood pressure, heart disease, and lifestyle or behavior choices that can be damaging to overall health and well-being. 

At the same time, pessimists sometimes make better leaders, particularly where there is a need to ignite social change, and their skepticism may make them more resistant to propaganda and false advertising. The degree of pessimism felt by an individual or group can often be linked to political and economic conditions in their personal lives and their society.

The Principles of Negative Thinking

Having realistic expectations, rather than taking extremely positive or negative positions, may actually be the recipe for good health and happiness. Perhaps not surprisingly, low levels of pessimism, rather than high levels of optimism, have actually been associated with better health. In other words, pessimism may be a risk factor for heart disease and other physical and mental health conditions, but optimism won’t necessarily prevent you from becoming ill. Rather than constantly aiming for a bright smile and sunny disposition, or giving in to an overall negative outlook, the goal should be moderate optimism with a daily dose of pessimism.


Positive Psychology

Recent Posts