The Birth of "Optipessim"

If you pay attention to the news, read blogs, or observe pop culture you get a sense that there is a change in the air. Although we know the media reports in way that appeals to the twisted side of us that likes to slow down to look at the accident on the side of the road – it’s different now. I feel, for the masses, this change involves the death of optimism. The death of optimism has brought about a new doctrine -- I call, optipessim.
Optipessim is our culture’s dual personality between optimism and pessimism and obsession with duality and fate as the result of bipolar and multiple personality disorders. (Forgive me for throwing grammar out the proverbial “window” to create my compound word – but I hope it makes my point.)
People, unchecked, can let pessimism seep into their psyche and begin to change their lenses, in which they view life, circumstances, and the future. I understand that there are typically varying degrees of optimism and pessimism and our inclinations are not always black or white. However, I am talking about sustained duplicity – not just brief moments of the two extremes. It seems most are in a constant state of optipessim.
A long-standing case study in human behavior would find that pessimists think optimists are foolish; optimists think pessimists make themselves unnecessarily miserable. A lot of research has been done on this issue in the last 30 years. The University of Pennsylvania found that optimistic people are happier than pessimists. When something bad happens, optimists think of it as temporary, limited in its effect, and not entirely their fault. Pessimists do the opposite. They consider the setback to be permanent, far-reaching and all their fault.
In several large-scale, long-term, carefully controlled experiments, studies at U of P discovered that optimists are more successful than pessimists - optimistic politicians win more elections, optimistic students get better grades, optimistic athletes win more contests, optimistic salespeople make more money.
Why would this be so?
Because optimism and pessimism both tend to be self-fulfilling prophecies. If you think a setback is permanent, why would you try to change it?
A life is not worth living if you are pessimistic. Because that is what feels like death. That is what causes athletes to, out of despair, get drunk and wrap their cars around a pole. Or lash out at someone they love. Or that is what might have caused someone to murder their family after being laid off from their job. It is the seedy feeling of optipessim of others living life around them, that keeps their fists tightly wound around whatever dollars they can muster, caring little more than nothing about those around them that can lead to just surviving and anything goes.
We can take control of our lives, we can be optimistic, we can say - right now, these are our lives, it is time to start living it. It is time to not second guess, to move forward, to make mistakes if we have to, but to do it with a greater good in mind.
Personally, I don’t watch many R-rated movies, I’m keeping the news off, and I’m not browsing the Drudge Report. What is your antidote for optpessim? CAP

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