A Three-Step Program for Pessimists

Optimist or pessimist? Whichever one you are, that character tendency colors everything you think, say, and do. All the time. Because I&#...

Optimist or pessimist?
Whichever one you are, that character tendency colors everything you think, say, and do. All the time.

Because I'm genetically encoded toward pessimism, I can't speak to the problems associated with being overly optimistic. But I'm sure there must be some. (Hear that pessimism in there? I'm serious, it's genetic!)

Being the group pessimist never used to bug me. I was quick to douse the bubbly suggestions of the optimists around me with biting sarcasm liberally peppered with plenty of facts and stats. It toned them down and made things more -- fair.

Lately, I seem to be developing an allergy to pessimism. Maybe because it's suddenly so darn popular to be a gloomy Eeyore instead of a bouncy Tigger. Fearful Piglet instead of peaceful Pooh.

Or maybe it's because I've had more than my share of fear-worshiping, hope-quenching, negative misery-mongers in my lifetime.

Remember this rule? "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." Wow. Wouldn't that be a switch? To hear gratitude instead of grumbling, praise instead of pouting... even silence would be an improvement for most folks.

Are you miserable?
Tired of being depressed?
Gloomy all the time?
Afraid of everything?
A pessimist of the worst kind? (The worst kind of pessimist is the one who shares his or her pessimistic attitude with everyone else.)

Step One: Shut up! Don't say ANYTHING negative. For some of us, this may require absolute silence for a while until we get our mouths back in positive gear. (Note: This could take days. Or weeks. Meanwhile, the people around you will be ridiculously happy.)

Step Two: Avoid the company of other pessimists. Don't visit, don't call, don't open their absurd doomsday e-mail prophecies. I know, it sounds mean, but your sanity is at stake here! Don't try to talk them out of their pessimism. Change has to come from the inside. (By the way, if people seem to be avoiding you, you might see if you've been ultra-pessimistic lately!)

Step Three: Take baby steps toward positivity. Say one nice thing about something you hate (sarcasm and irony don't count). Say one positive thing about something you'd usually say something negative about. Say "thank you" for the very things/people/situations that are dragging you down. Instead of "I hate _______", say "I like ___________".

"But what will that do?" (Said with a petulant whine.)

Slowly but surely, over time, the practice of positivity will reset your system and change your perspective on life. You might never be a Pollyanna, but at least you won't be quite so unbalanced!

I don't want to be one of those miserable, snarly old ladies whose lips are always turned down at the corners, do you? I mean, we all laugh at Maxine cartoons, but none of us want to be Maxine when we grow up, er, old.

Now for a little booster (kind of the way they give heroin addicts methadone to help them kick the habit) watch the following clip, and let it rev up your optimism engine so you can get started on the road to recovery!


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  1. I'm overall optimistic, but I complain too. No one can be perky all the time!

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I could have guessed that about you, Jill! It's one of the reasons I like your blog so much.
    Enjoy your weekend!

  3. was your free association on my blog a result of this innate pessimism you claim to have? :) thanks for stopping by.

    the character therapist

  4. Hi Niki,
    Loved this! It's so true. I grew up in an extended family of pessimists. I was an Eeyore. That started changing when I went to college and the best thing that ever happened to me was marrying my Tigger hubby. :)

    As I grew in my profession as a counselor I discovered how to change my thinking. Cognitive behavioral therapy is simply changing your thoughts and it can be very difficult. You've offered up some great ideas.

    For all the Eeyores out there I'd recommend reading David Burns, The New Mood Therapy. It's not new anymore, but it works.

    Loved the clip!

  5. Jeanie,
    LOL. Sometimes that pessimism runs deeper than I even think! Love your blog!

  6. Jillian,
    That is TOO funny! I married a Tigger, too! I think God puts us together that way to keep things in balance. His entire family is full of Poohs and Tiggers. Hanging out with them was such an eye-opener for me when we were dating. I'd never been around such ridiculously positive people!

  7. I am TOTALLY optimistic and married Eeyore.
    But we are a nice balancE!!!!

    Thanks for visiting my blog so regularly. Love it.


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