Autodidact: self-taught

Oct
31
2011

Optimism is Deadly

by V. L. Craven

Optimists have always struck me as the most miserable people in the world. They expect things to always go quite well, and then, when they nearly inevitably don’t, are disappointed. Whereas, realists recognise that things can go well or not-so-well and either way is neither good nor bad–it simply is.

Anecdotes do not make science, but I’ve seen this sort of thing (on a much smaller scale):

Then comes the paradox: While Stockdale had remarkable faith in the unknowable, he noted that it was always the most optimistic of his prisonmates who failed to make it out of there alive. “They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

What the optimists failed to do was confront the reality of their situation. They preferred the ostrich approach, sticking their heads in the sand and hoping for the difficulties to go away. That self-delusion might have made it easier on them in the short-term, but when they were eventually forced to face reality, it had become too much and they couldn’t handle it.

That’s about Admiral James Stockdale and The Stockdale Paradox .

In other words, just because we’re all going to hell doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time. (Or,try to mitigate the misery for yourself and others.)

via Lifehacker

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