Friday, April 5, 2013

No Cup At All

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. Oscar Wilde.

For some people the cup is half full, for some half empty, and some folks don't seem to have a cup at all. These are the people who generally can't find anything good to say about any person or situation. If it's not too hot, it's too cold, or too dry, or too humid. Other people are too fat, too lazy, too eager, too smart. 

Seeing the worst in people or situations comes effortlessly and naturally to these folks, who will claim, if questioned, that they are only being honest. Ironically, that “honesty” does not seem to translate into a frank estimation of their own behaviour. 

Pessimistic people frequently seem misanthropic as well. How else does one explain the tendency to point out other people's faults and failings so rapidly, consistently and with such acerbity? Jean-Paul Sartre said “Hell is other people” to describe the characteristic lack of self-awareness of these people who will gleefully point out other people's faults whilst not recognising their own.

Research psychologists claim that there are some benefits to being a pessimist – providing, of course, that the pessimism is not so deep as to paralyse all action. Apparently, pessimists are less likely to continue gambling when they are losing money than optimists, and are more likely to avoid feeling disappointed when things did not turn out as well as they hoped. 

Research, however, is one thing, practicality is another. No-one wants to spend time with a pessimist. Pessimists drag you down to their level – where everything that can go wrong will, where everyone is a disappointment, where life is miserable, and the only thing that makes it less miserable is gloating over other people's mistakes. 

If I have to lay in the gutter, I'd sure as hell rather look up at the stars, than down at the rats even if I do risk some future disappointment.  

Woronora River view from my walk today

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