Almost always people think it is a good thing to be positive or optimistic. Considering being pessimistic is a bad thing, people say “Take it easy” or “Go have a drink” to cease the state of pessimism. However, being optimistic is not always a good thing. What is worse, it could cause a lot of problems.
Not many people have realised, but optimism makes things worse on many occasions. Positivity does not have a positive effect in many ways. Negativity or pessimism, however, has great effects on our lives. Being pessimistic equals being smart as well.
You may think I am a happy person, like a person who is always positive and optimistic, the person who believes the future is bright and shiny, and enjoying every single moment of my life. Well, I am not, at all. I am far from that.
I am cynical. I am very cautious as well. And I am really easy to be stressed out. However, I take it as a good thing. And when my state is “negative”, I do not try to be happy or “positive”.
When I travelled around the world by myself, including countries that are not economically rich, I had encountered zero trouble during the trip for half a year or so. It could be dangerous, indeed, because I was 19 at that time, and I dressed in my normal way, and probably people could recognise I was Japanese and I might have money.
However, I have never been robbed. I took 15 flights or more, and countless train rides, but I was always on time, even though almost all the countries and cities were my first visit. In some countries English was not understood very well.
Nonetheless, the reason why I encountered no trouble is that I was pessimistic. I was worried that I might have no hotel to stay in if I was late on the flight or train. So I was always arriving at the airport way earlier than the departure time. When I had an international flight, I was heading to the airport at least 4 hours in advance.
Probably it is too much. However, sometimes it saves my life. Once when I was in London, I was heading to the airport for the flight to Amsterdam from Gatwick Airport. I was staying at a hotel near the London Bridge, and I had asked the train line to the airport at the front desk. However, somehow, I took the wrong train, and it was an express train or something, so it did not stop for 30 mins or so. I freaked out. It was summer, high season for tourism, so all the decent hotels had already booked, and it was the time the sterling pound was incredibly strong, so I felt the price was double or higher than usual. However, thank goodness, since I was 4 hours earlier, I could go back to central London and take the right train to the airport and be on time for the flight.
I could catch the plane because I was pessimistic. I was worried about being late for flights and trains and the possible troubles it could cause. I was pessimistic about my future.
However, a positive person might think differently. They might think: “It is 30 minutes train ride to the airport, so I will leave the hotel 2 hours and a half before the flight”. Most of the time, it would be totally fine. However, if you took the wrong train, if there was a traffic jam, if a taxi driver did not know the fastest way to the airport… Most probably you will not be able to catch the aeroplane.
As I said, I am a cautious person. I am cynical. Really cynical. I am incredibly pessimistic about my life, future, the situation I am in. And obviously, this characteristic of mine is not likeable, and when I am in a really pessimistic state, it is not pleasant for me either, indeed. However, I can be smarter and more thoughtful when I am pessimistic. Since I am pessimistic, I think deeper, more cautious and logical. Optimism, on the contrary, cannot give you the deep-thinking mind.
I feel “positivity” is really overstated as a good thing. It is natural to be pessimistic or unhappy, and it is the characteristic that evolution has selected among mammals, probably birds and reptiles as well. If there were a monkey who could be happy without eating, sleeping, mating… 100% or more, the monkey would die without leaving offspring, and the species will be extinct soon after.
We feel hunger, and it is not comfortable, so we eat and live. We feel sleepy, and it is not comfortable, so we sleep and get energy. It is an evolutionary advantage that we feel uncomfortable when essential things are lacking.
We are humans, so we can go to the next level. Even if we are not hungry but have no food for tomorrow, we can try to get food. There might be two types of pre-Homo-Sapiens; “Type Cautious” stored food in advance, and the other did not. The former was pessimistic and stressed out about the future, thinking he might not be able to get any food tomorrow. The latter was optimistic about the future, thinking there should be some food he could find tomorrow. Which type of pre-Homo-Sapiens could survive the natural selection. I do not think I need to answer it.
It is natural that we feel unhappiness, uncomfortableness, pessimism. It is okay that you are negative. It is even better being negative. It means you are smart. If Polynesian immigrants who adventured all over the Pacific, or European explorers who tried to see the other side of the Earth were optimistic, thinking they could find food in some islands on the way, or can catch fish and rainwater and did not prepare essentials in the ship storage, they certainly could not have accomplished their great achievements. They were negative and pessimistic about their future and the journey, and it made them achieve their will.
Of course, it is good to be happy and positive when life is good. And it is physically comfortable when you are happy. However, when you are having a bad day, it is okay to have a bad day. You will not have a bad day without proper reason. When you are pessimistic, your body and mind are telling you that it is time to think deeper and be smarter than usual. Therefore, I do not think it is necessarily a good thing to have a drink or do something you can enjoy at the end of a bad day. Even if you can be temporarily happy by escaping the state of pessimism, it does not mean you could escape from the original problems that caused your pessimism. Drinks taste better when we are happy, anyway.
Therefore, if you are pessimistic, it is a good thing. It is the ability that humans have developed in the process of natural selection. If people tell you that you are pessimistic, uneasy, sceptical, nervous, cynical… you should take it as a compliment.