Pessimist vs Optimist

Being an optimist, and modeling that behavior for our children has a myriad of positive effects. Not only do optimists tend to have less stress, anxiety, and depression, but they are also luckier! That’s right, a study found that optimists are more open to opportunities and interactions and therefore encounter more situations that appear to come about due to luck.

If you aren’t already an optimist, here are four helpful ways to get you going.

1. Permanence

Permanence is an indication of how long things last. When facing a challenge or bad event, optimists tend to view it as temporary, whereas pessimists tend to view it as permanent.

Optimist = bad event is temporary
“You are not listening”
“She is in a bad mood today”
“You are preoccupied today”

Pessimist = bad event is permanent
“You never listen”
“She’s always rude”
“You never think of my feelings”

On the reverse, when facing a positive event, optimists tend to view it as permanent, whereas a pessimist tends to view the same situation as temporary.

Optimist = good event is permanent
“My boss likes me”
“I am a lucky person”
“I work hard to give it my all”

Pessimist = good event is temporary
“My boss liked me today”
“I got lucky”
“I got it right today”

2. Pervasiveness

Pervasiveness refers to how greatly things are affected. Optimists are specific when describing situations whereas pessimists tend to use universal descriptors such as always, everyone, never, and all the time.

Optimist = specific description
“My last therapist was erratic.”
“Some cab drivers can be aggressive.”
“She was mean to me after I won.”

Pessimist = universal description
“All therapists are crazy.”
“All cab drivers are jerks.”
“She is mean.”

3. Hope or Hopelessness

Our sense of hope and hopelessness are determined by our combined sense of permanence and pervasiveness. People who tend to give permanent and universal explanations for their situations suffer from increased stress, anxiety, and depression. They tend to collapse when things go wrong.

4. Personalization

Pessimists tend to blame themselves when things go wrong. This lowers their sense of self-esteem. Optimists tend to blame things beyond their control.

The exact opposite is true when pessimists and optimists view positive events. Pessimists tend to give credit to forces outside of themselves and optimists tend to give credit to themselves.

Leave a Reply