7 Ways To Avoid Pessimism

Gotcha! You’re a pessimist! Otherwise, why would you read such an article? 😉 I bet you’re the type who sees the empty half of the glass, who thinks the world will crash and burn because we’re inherently doomed, and you’re never able to fully understand a laughter in the middle of a storm. Yeah, you’re a pessimist!

I have two news for you: a good one and a bad one. I’ll start with the bad one: everything you think in your head becomes reality. No, I’m not kidding. If you think everything will go wrong, well, at some point, things WILL go wrong. If you think your glass is half empty, then you will generate more emptiness. If you think relationship are hard, you will have a hard time having a relationship. Got it? And when you’re doing this stuff on auto-pilot, when you make a habit out of pessimism, well, your whole life will start to break down in pieces with every thought you think. Toldya this is bad news.

But there’s also a good news about this thing. And, as surprising as it may sound, the good news is that… nothing is permanent. Nothing is written in stone. Maybe you are a pessimist (and all pessimists are usually backing up their choice with very strong arguments) but you don’t have to STAY a pessimist. You can change. You can emigrate from the Pessimism country and you can do it totally legal. That’s a metaphoric way to say that you can simply avoid pessimism, by the way.

Here are only 7 hints on how you can do this:

1. Go For What Scares You The Most

You’re afraid of being left? Leave! Afraid of being broke? Go broke. Afraid of being alone? Isolate yourself. This is the most easy, effective and powerful way to realize your fears are just mental constructs. Confront them. Whatever scares you the most, do it. Face the worst case scenario.

This will have at least two implications: First, you’ll realize that the worst case scenario is not as bad as you thought it may be. And second, you’re going to realize that you are a very powerful person. You did it. You went through the hell and back and you’re still alive, ready to tell your story.

Courage is born in fear. Without fear, there will be no courage. If you don’t accept that your fears are just button pushers for your courage, you will never ever develop real life boldness. Avoiding your fears, endlessly thinking without taking action, that will keep you a pessimist forever.

2. Talk To Your Future Self

Maybe now life is pretty far from pink for you. Maybe it’s totally gray or even black. Especially during these black or gray times I like to talk to my future self. I imagine myself in 5 years from now and try to have a conversation with this guy. “Hi, Dragos, how’s life lately? Still have those problems from 5 years ago?”

In my conversations, usually the answer is: “Hey, dude, I forgot about that long time ago. I don’t even remember I used to have these problems”. My future self is always smiling and much more relaxed than me. In my imaginary conversations, he’s also much smarter than I usually am, but don’t tell.

As funny as it may seem, this technique is very effective. Just try to remember what were your usual problems 5 years ago and try to have a conversation with your past self. 5 years ago I didn’t even imagined how would it be to have a blog, or a beautiful daughter. To name just 2 of the things that are making me happy today.

3. Indiscriminately Help Someone

When things are advancing really slow, I try to start my days doing a small act of kindness. Helping somebody I know (or I don’t know) out of the blue. It goes from a little piece of advice to actually doing a small service. First benefit: it instantly shifts my focus from my own problems.

The second, and the most important, benefit is that my current mindset is replaced. You know, when everything goes wrong, I cannot stop thinking that there won’t be enough… something. Enough money, enough health, enough love. Well, helping somebody out of the blue simply blasts this mindset away.

The mere act of providing some unexpected support to somebody actually invalidates my mind model: look, there is enough for everybody, you just provided some unexpected … something to a total stranger. Why this won’t happen to you too? And it usually happens. Not instantly, but it happens.

4. Paint A New Context

Like in real drawing. It doesn’t matter if you have talent, just sketch your new context. If it’s your house that makes you problems, paint a new house. If it’s a person that makes you unhappy, paint a new person. If it’s yourself that makes you feel limited, paint a new self.

We do perceive a lot of our reality through our eyes. An image is worth 1000 words, they say, and for a good reason. If you really try to escape from the pessimism prison, you gotta first imagine your life outside this realm. And drawing this life by yourself is one of the best ways to do it.

One may argue that this is a childish, ineffective approach in fighting pessimism. How can drawing something can change your reality? Well, what are your alternatives? If you tried everything, but this one, what do you have to lose?

5. Take A Long Run

A real run. A few miles. You don’t have to run all the time, alternate walking with running. Do it in the park or on a random itinerary. The underlying principle in this approach is that you’re pushing your limits, you’re actually creating an escape route. But you’re not doing in your head, you’re doing it outside, in the real life.

Yes, once back home, your problems will still be there, But you’ll be bringing back from this run a little something that, in the long run, will make them go away. You’ll bring a sense of optimism rooted in the fact that you finished the run. You were able to take some distance. To leave the old stuff behind.

Running is also a very good way to squeeze the stored stress in your body. Unconsciously, during stressing phases, you contract your muscles, putting yourself in a fight or flight situation. Although you don’t realize it, you fight your enemies with your body too, not only with your mind. Release that energy.

6. Ask For Support

Out loud, articulated and straightforward. Yes, you’re in trouble and there’s no reason to be ashamed for that. Go ahead, talk about your problems, expose your difficulties. One of the most common sources of pessimism is isolation. Or, in better words, the illusion of isolation.

Based on some traumatic experiences from the past, we extrapolate our current situation. And, most of the time, we’re doing it wrong. We think we’re alone. We think nobody cares. We think that whatever we do, it won’t count. Wrong. It will. You just have to keep trying.

Ask for support until you get it. We’re connected. We’re not islands, we’re streams of consciousness linked through far more planes than we think. We’re in a balanced universe. Every action will call for a reaction. Just keep reaching out until you’ll eventually realize that your valley will soon attract a hill.

7. Keep An Eye On The Opening Windows

When God closes a door, it opens a window, the saying goes. But, if you don’t pay attention to this window, you will never be able to use it. Pessimism is more than often a perpetual blocking situation: we just can’t take our eyes from the closed door. Oh, what a life we had, and now is broken.

All we can do is whining about the past: “Oh, what a beautiful partner we had and now he’s somewhere else, with somebody else”. Ok, since he’s somewhere else, look around and find somebody new. But you can’t possibly see this someone new you even if he’ll be there, if you don’t actually look.

At the bottom line this approach means you should accept and trust. Wherever there’s acceptance and trust, pessimism is not possible. It simply cannot survive in this environment. Accept that life is full of possibilities and trust that you’ll be able to jump on every new opportunity.

43 thoughts on “7 Ways To Avoid Pessimism”

  1. Hi.thank you for this article.im pessimistic and i hate to be,my friend and my teacher keep critisizing me and tell me change your mood i feel that i dont know who i am anymore.i dont know what to do.i hate when they show me my flaws and pick on every action and what i say.i feel that my personality has broke

  2. Hi Dragos.
    Well,I’m a BPD (borderline personality disorder).For a long time I had a terrible experience of mood swings and Pessimism during my life,thanks God now I have a person in my life that’s a motivation for me to understand my problems and look toward life optimistic no matter what,
    but still I have a long way to go,but I’m not tired of trying.
    Thanks to your advice I’ll try them to enhance my chance of clear and positive life.
    keep up good work my friend

  3. I think i have been a pessimist all my life, dont know if thats exactly what i am but always seem not to care much about anything in life and finding new challenges so difficult i actually give up on them; like finding a new job cause im not sure what i want to do, saving up for a house as im scared of how long it will take. anything that needs alot of time i just give up easily. I had a read of one of the steps which is facing the fears, well so far i have overcome a few of them.

  4. Hey Dragos –

    My husband has been a pessimist for almost 30 years, and it is sucking the very Life Force out of me! He’s like an emotional vampire. I have always loved animals, especially dogs. I grew up with dogs. My husband has refused to even consider a dog since we got married (too dirty, might get fleas, will tear up the furniture, will scratch the floor with its nails, smells bad, poops in yard, might dig holes in yard, etc.). I’ve reached my end-point and I’ve told my husband that I am going to the local pound to get a dog – because living with a pessimist means that life has no joy! A dog would actually bring some joy into my life. He’s having an absolute meltdown! Says I don’t love him, don’t appreciate all the stess is he constantly under, says he wants LESS responsibility in his life rather than more (a dog), etc. Got any advice for me?? Truly, I don’t even want to be around him, b/c of the negativity and pessimism.

  5. I have an Uncle who’s a pessimist and a jerk. I got tired of him little by little several years ago. We’ve spoken to him about his pessimism and jerkiness and he’d still be those. He’s also greedy and childish and stubborn and hardheaded. We’re banning him from setting foot in my house Ever. I feel so fucking better.

  6. Great blog! I am enjoying it.. 🙂
    By point one, Do you mean if I am afraid of being cheated by my current boyfriend (since I had a terrible past experience), I should let him sleep with others?- I guess he gonna love you! lol
    He travels a lot and now is away. It is 2 AM there and he is still not back at the hotel or getting in touch with me. How can I keep positive?

  7. Thanks for the tips. Help me a lot. I’m always failed to do many things because I felt too difficult, afraid of it, and always think negatively. My concious often say to me, “No, just give up, you cant really make it anyway..”
    Is pessimistism occur naturally? Can I really fix that? I want to change, but its influence my life a lot.
    Please give me some advise…

  8. i cant believe you just told people to go broke if they are afraid of it? i have a problem with gambling, i would never want to go broke tho. i consider myself a pessimist because i think the world is coming to end and we are all going die soon, but going broke is like going to hell…i wouldnt do that for being courageous or to beat my pessimism. that is absurd.

  9. Great Post! I mainly liked #7 only because I’m struggling with this in my relationship. My BF seems stuck, he doesn’t know how to move forward and quit looking at the closed door, He see’s me but he really doesn’t see me because he keeps looking at the past at what used to be rather than looking at what is now! I hope he really reads your blog and this helps him, He’s trying to move forward but there’s just an invisible force that keeps pulling him backwards. I know he loves me, and we have a strong chemistry and everything else, but again, we can’t move forward until he stops looking at that CLOSED DOOR.

    • I guess I’m like your boyfriend. I always have the tendency to look back especially in my teen years. I always wish I could redo it or relive it again. Maybe it has to do with getting older…I just wish sometimes I could at least be 21 again. I always daydream about building a time machine and going back to my childhood days and changing things I wish I never done. I guess I’m just like that. Go figure.

  10. Authentic and UNIQUE advice, Dragos. Gosh I missed so much being gone just a few days! Thank you for taking a new approach, as you often do, on a common problem. I have vowed to myself to not allow negative thoughts in my head anymore – I want to try the method everyone tries. My husband is supposed to flag me if I do. Happy, calm, positive, and if things don’t go as planned, I will be fine! THANK YOU for the reminders. I need it the most. It’s an evolution – never a done deal but we can deal with pessimism and show it to the door with these steps!

  11. Dragos, I’m actually an optimistic and a Virgo, so I have both optimism and pessimism at the same time.:) I love all these tips but the 1 and 3 especially resonate strongly for me. First, the point about fear simply being a mental construct. It’s so true, but I am just really getting that more deeply for the first time in my life. Secondly, the third point about helping someone else is exactly what the Dalai Lama calls being “wisely selfish.” In the end, helping others often helps you even more. One clear benefit is that it takes your mind off your own problems as you point out. “Personal” development isn’t just about “personal” in terms of only you or me. Kindness is a big part of it. Dragos, thank you as always for your stimulating post.

    • Well, for a long experience with Virgos, all I can say is that they are showing this image of pessimism, but they are not what we can call a pessimist. They’re simple perfectionists and everything that couldn’t be totally and completely perfect is a reason for stepping back. So I wouldn’t call you a pessimist 100%.

      I like the concept of being “wisely selfish”, I used to wrote a series called “Pay Yourself First” 🙂

  12. Hi Dragos,

    you got me 😐 I am going through the process of emigration from Pessimism country. IMHO I do live in a real pessimistic country and in a non-supportive environment, though it is hard to figure out how much projection of my own pessimistic thinking is involved. Currently I am thinking a lot about how to change my environment. Moving to a nicer place seems like the most important next step to feed my positive thinking. Emigrating to a different country might be a smart decision, though I need some more clarity so that I will be able to make the “right” choice out of clarity and optimism, thus avoiding just running away from myself.

    Some days ago I did No 5 from this list of yours and also not very long ago I did 6. asking for financial support. After reading this aricle today I did 5. again, inspired by your list.

    When running, what I do is to imagine a finish line for each running stage. I don’t actually walk but make it until I cross the next imaginary finish line. Then I allow myself to stop and breathe slowly and consciously and do that five times. During that time consciously breathing I focus on the next stage and on the next “finish line”. What I find important is to actually cross the finish line running. Of course some challenge needs to be involved. But I think even more important than a challenging next distance is to actually cross the finish line running: finishing successfully what I started 🙂 This is like keeping a promise which I made to myself and it is also a little exercise in reaching goals and not giving up too early. Because the worst thing is – also in a general sense – to almost make it and to give up just before you could have actually made it. So a promise to myself to do 1000 meters running and to keep that promise (stop running after 1000 meters, NOT after 999 meters is more important than willing to run 1500 meters and stoping after 1400 meters. It is also a good practice to think realistically. It is better to actually do the small steps and succeed consciously than to make steps which are too big and thus keep failing when you could have made serveral successful smaller steps instead and running the same distance anyway.

    Probably I am going to talk my my future self soon. Thank you for sharing these constructive thoughts!

    • Thanks for the lengthy comment and for sharing your thoughts so thoroughly. I share a lot of your approach when it comes to exercising. Have you ever thought starting and maintaining a blog? Looks like you have a lot of what it takes.

      • You got me again, Dragos 🙂 Yes, I am thinking a lot about starting a blog. Just recently I have started a technical blog as a self employed programmer. But that does not cover my whole self and feels like a facade to be honest, though I am not going to drop that project too early either 😀 Actually it is mostly an exercise in getting comfortable with the CMS and aquiring the skills involved for starting a truly personal blog, both to write from an authentic point of view and to generate income streams. I am in the phase of letting my old self fade away and building something new but also keeping and using the skills and experienced aquired so far. I have had some bad experiences with people not understanding the holistic approach and who tried to slow me down, including psychologists, close relatives and friends. BUT, thinking positively, these were some valuable experiences. I accepted the challenge to listen and learn about myself and to keep believing and acting anyway. I find it hard to ignore the people saying: “You can’t do it, poor fellow” and developing more open-mindedness towards people nevertheless. THAT seems to be the true challenge. As for the blog, I am currently searching for a nice template. Haven’t decided yet if the blog is going to be in english or in my native language.

  13. Dragos, I’m stopping by at the suggestion of Bernice Woods, and I’m glad she suggested it! I’m a life long optimist and I call pessimists ‘psychic vampires’ because they suck the life out of you! I just can’t allow myself a lot of time with pessimism, it always brings me down.
    You’re obviously doing good work here! Glad I stopped by.

    • Well, whoever directed you here, I’m happy you did stop by. Pessimists are not psychic at all, they are simply energy vampires, they suck you up directly, not at at the subtle levels. 🙂

    • That’s a brilliant idea, by the way! Teaching kids in school how to react to stuff. They can learn math and reading from their computers now, these will be common sense. Education should be about self improvement, not about dumb information storage.

      • You are, as so often, so right! I taught my kids at home, mostly, and they seem to cope SO much better with life than their contemporaries who were schooled. If you know how to find the information, you don’t need to carry it all around in your head (though you do need some basics!) It’s how to cope with life that we need to teach the next generation, not how to be a cog in a machine ;o)

  14. Hey Dragos, I used to be a pessimistic person. I use to say to myself, “Think positive Hulbert, think positive!” I realized that can’t always force yourself to think positive and one way to be positive is ironically to allow the negative to flow through you. This is why I liked your first step. Also, getting outside and running allows new thoughts to flow through you too. Like you say, nothing is set in stone and there’s always opportunities for changes in the future. That, itself, is enough to keep me going. Thank you!

    • Open confrontation always leads to results. You may lose something in the process, that’s true, but what you are left with it’s incredibly useful. Much more useful than staying without moving an inch by fear of rejection.

  15. Gotcha! I actually read this because I live with a pessimist 🙂

    I really liked your suggestion of talking to your future self – the problems of today won’t matter in a few days or years – good to keep in mind.

    What you see if life – wheather it is the glass half full or half empty – is what you look for. It is like when you are thinking of buying a car and suddenly you see that car everywhere. If you think good things will happen, you will notice them and the same does for the bad.

    Thanks Dragos! Katie

  16. Someone said to me the other day the one thing you can rely on is that things will change. So true, and I always like to think they will change for the better.
    I like the idea of talking to your future self. When I have a lot of shit going on (which is thankfully quite rare now) I think back to how I was years ago. How at the time things seemed like the end of the world, but now I wonder what I was in such a state about! And then I know any current problems will pale into insignificance in no time at all.

    • Absolutely. Every time I take the time to look at myself as I was 5 years ago, I’m almost always embarrassed. Was it me? Really? 🙂

  17. No. 5 always works for me.
    Pessimism = Fear = Stress = Depression = No physical activity = Not enough oxygen to the brain.
    Long run = Oxygen and fuel to the brain = Optimism = Courage = Love = etc.

    • I knew it works that way for you 🙂 How’s life lately, bro? Sorry I couldn’t be there at your event, but we’ll have another opportunity to meet, I’m sure 🙂

  18. So important, Dragos. There is no power in pessimism (but rather the illusion of power). When we observe the similarity between a person’s mood and the kind of life they experience it is abundantly clear. Psychological Law commands that one’s mood either expands or restricts one’s life. The psychic wounds of pessimism are terribly inconvenient… Lets lighten up and expect to be charmed by life! Great tips to do so, Dragos.

      • Already done, made him sit down and read this when he came home from work! He’s finding ti helpful to remember to be grateful – sitting and thinking of 5 things to be grateful for usually switches his mood quite well, but the more tools in the box, the better ;oD you inspiremwe. keep up the good work!

  19. Gotcha! The last one I find to be particularly valuable. I truly believe that whenever a door closes, another one opens. And I notice that if you do believe this or at least try to, you will eventually see that door. If you don’t, use the window. 🙂


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