Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hopefully Pessimistic

Whenever my glass of milk is halfway between full and empty I never say, "Woohoo! I still have half a glass!" The reason I would never say that is because I drink my milk way too fast. It's always gone before I realize it. What I do always say is, "Where'd all my milk go? I'd better enjoy the rest of this measly half empty glass of milk while it lasts." Therefore, I would classify myself as a hopeful pessimist. The reason I've chosen a middle ground is because I see that there is value in both optimism and pessimism.

I'll start with my favorite attitude: Pessimism. It's my favorite because everyone thinks optimism is better, but pessimism is pretty legit at times. The best example I can give you is when you are hiking a mountain, let's say it's a "14er." A 14er is a mountain that is between 14,000ft and 15,000ft tall. Coloradans are obsessed with 14ers because their mountains that are less than 14,000ft tend to be un-epic. Alaskans know two things regarding this: 1. Alaska has many epic hikes far lower than 14,000ft and 2. Alaska has many mountains taller than the tallest mountain in Colorado, which doesn't exceed 15,000ft. Coloradans like 14ers because they get to boast about their ability to survive in high-altitude situations and I will certainly give them (I'm a Coloradan too, I guess) that 14ers are quite difficult hikes.

Anyways, if you're hiking a mountain, you often get to false peaks. If it's a really steep climb, you might look up and see what looks to be a peak, but you realize it's not when you get there. This can happen several times in one hike. After having hiked mountains since I was a wee lad, I have determined that pessimism is the absolute best way to climb a mountain. Optimists kill themselves because they see a false peak and think it's the real deal. They get to the false peak and they are devastated to realize that it was all a lie. A pessimistic hiker will see every peak and expect it to be a false peak. If you expect every single peak to be a false peak, then you will either be right or you will be pleasantly surprised. You see, in this context pessimism is the best option.

Honestly, optimism is a lot less useful at first glance. It's pretty pointless to be optimistic about winning a lot of money at a casino unless you just like the extreme fluctuation in emotions it can cause with a near guarantee that your final emotion will be sadness. Also, what's the point of being optimistic about a romantic relationship too when so many relationships end up in break-ups. You never really know if they're going to get tired of you, cheat on you, or start to hate you. Most people date several people, let's say an average of 4, before getting married. That gives you a 1 in 4 chance of being "successful" if your goal for dating is to get married. If your goal for dating is to get married and stay together the rest of your lives, then the odds drop a good bit more. Also, what's the point in being optimistic about school? Say you're a 4.0 student. You work so hard to get your 4.0 and you are so optimistic that you can go all 4 years keeping the 4.0. You eventually get your first B and you are devastated. Do you see how pointless optimism seems?

A virtue that most people value is Trust. Trust can be brewed up using hops and barley, er I mean trust can be brewed up from a wide range of evidences. Some people trust in something blindly and some people refuse to ever trust someone. You know, like those people who have never done the trick where they fall backwards into someone's arms because they can't trust anybody no matter how good their CPA (caught person average) is. That person only trusts in something that is infinitely well proven. Trust takes some level of optimism depending on how much evidence you have beforehand.

Trust is rewarding though. It feels good to trust someone to get a job done for you and they get it done 100% of the time. Run-on Sentence Alert! I imagine it also feels really good to have a trusting relationship with your spouse, where each person is free to do what they want, but each person is confident that their spouse's priority is them.

If you never trusted anyone, you'd never care if somebody did the job you gave them or you just wouldn't even bother with them and you'd do the job yourself. This would just be a dry, mundane, and pointlessly difficult life. If you never trusted your wife to go out with her friends, you would have an absolutely horrible marriage. Overprotection is a form of pessimism. It makes all kinds of relationships horrible and I've been pretty overprotective about some friends in the past. While it may sometimes be based on reality, it's a horrible way to live.

So hopefully you understand how both pessimism and optimism are good in their appropriate places. They're also bad in their inappropriate places. So, don't go around always being optimistic or always being pessimistic. Both are annoying.

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