If there is one thing you don’t want to be classified as in today’s world, it is a pessimist. Their ideas of believing in the worst case scenario and expecting things to go always go wrong are blamed for their personal failures. Optimists run around ruling the world with their uplifting and inspirational messages and platitudes. Celebrities tell you to follow your dreams and never give up.
However, this is not without reason. Humans tend to follow a reassuring lie instead of an unpleasant truth. There is a huge industry in making people feel good and inspired. Open Instagram and Twitter and you can see the constant bombardment of optimism and success. It makes us feel good; turn on a motivational video and you will soon feel motivated to do whatever is on your mind. Optimism is the root of happiness.
So, why do we live in a generation more depressed than our predecessors?
A combination of lifestyle marketing, social media, and social positivity did not boost our confidence, but instead fed our insecurities and raised our expectations. We don’t search Instagram to find things we have, instead, we consume content of things we do not have. We follow influencers because we are not at their level of fame and we watch body transformations not because we have a ripped body, but because we do not.
A lot of people refer to this as the missing tile syndrome. When we do not have something we want, it shows up wherever we go. A woman who wants a child but cannot conceive sees pregnant women wherever she goes. A person who wants a G-Wagon Mercedes sees that car wherever he goes, almost hauntingly so.
We focus our attention on things we do not have. The floodgates opened with the advent of the internet. No, it isn’t just your next door neighbor whom you envy, but millions of more successful, better looking and fulfilled people you see online. We strive to be the perfect human that is in awe of everyone. Our expectations are not to have a healthy body image, but a perfect body image; not to have enough money to sustain our families happily, but to be able tofly them on private jets everywhere.
A good example of this is New Years. We tend to overhype the end of the year and expect it to be like those in our college years; full of ecstasy and excitement with a feeling of a new start. However, it is your expectation that makes your New Year’s disappointing and nothing else. Once you lower that bar, in a very pessimistic light, perhaps your New Year’s won’t stink as much as you think.
People are pessimistic by nature and tend to be happiest when living in that frame of mind. You will be a hundred times happier when you assume everything will go wrong and nothing does than if you assume that nothing will go wrong and everything does. It is a win-win situation. Your expectation is for everything to go wrong so when it does, it won’t discourage you and when it doesn’t, it will encourage you. Assuming that everything will go as planned is the best way to fail in a business or relationship.
Nothing will ever go smoothly. Not everything should be pursued and not everything is dependent on your passion. There will always be variables that go wrong, asshole bosses and disappointing failures.
Once you lower your measuring stick from the one society is pushing down your throat, less stress, failure, and disappointment will haunt you. I begin New Year’s like any other day, but what ends up happening is always pleasantly surprising.
When something is not in my control, such as the number of people that order my product, read my blog, or download my app, I assume the worst case scenario. Fortuitously, it ends up exceeding levels above what I predicted. Once you are not disappointed that only 100 people downloaded your app, going on from there is infinitely better than if you were expecting 1000 downloads.
There is a case to be made for Optimism. However, in today’s world, it always ends up being the cause of great disappointment. Optimists position themselves with an expectation of beating all odds. Whereas pessimists position themselves in alliance with all odds, whether they are good or bad.
I have never written something that went viral with the expectation for it to go viral, but instead, with the assumption that it would be like any other piece that I have ever written. Long story short, I was very pleased to see the success of my essay.
Lower your expectations, assume things will go wrong, and then be ecstatic when things do go according to your plan. Once your expectational standards are at rock bottom, the only place to go is up.