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What is pessimism?


We are all aware of several ideologies that we have adopted in our life. There are various deities that are followed by different people around the globe. It is meant for directing them towards a specific way. And then how we believe, it paves a way for grooming our personality accordingly. Even if something worst happens with a follower, patience is the ultimate condolence to grab during difficulties.


It is all about religious sentiments, but what if we try to think beyond the boundaries? A standing point where we do not care about any pre-defined perspectives. Those life sufferings and experiences make us able to question everything.


Have you ever met a person in whose companionship, you never got positive vibes? Most of the time, they are not expressive in front of others. And if they open up, they will just emphasize the darker side of perspective. And even if you try to convince them with some positive energy they have bigger reasoning to be focused on the dark view. Why they are the way they are? Those pessimists are not about believing only what they are doing, they mean it. In this article, we will understand the core concept of pessimism.  


It is a state of mind in which you are standing in a position of hopelessness. The whole concept of life is linked with pain. In the end, evil will overcome goodness. The word “pessimism” is derived from the Latin word “Pessimis” which means “worst”. It tends to focus on evil in general.

To understand the concept, the example of half glass of water is given. A pessimist is concerned about the half-empty glass and an optimist will focus on the half-filled glass. Throughout history, pessimist thoughts have affected the major areas of thinking.

Arthur Schopenhauer:

He is considered one of the greatest pessimists. His remarkable work was “The world as will and representation”. He was the first western philosopher who was interested in Buddhism. His lens to view Buddhism philosophy was enlightened pessimism.

Arther Schopenhauer
Arther Schopenhauer

The universe was fundamentally rational and human beings were deprived of basic human right, freedom. Free will is the basic force in the universe that was never satisfied. The best way to be happy in life is to restrict you from seeking happiness in life. People blame you for proving your faults but what if you surrender and then that you were on the wrong side.

Types of pessimism:

A pessimist is concerned about negative outcomes such as risks, faults, and issues. The core concept can be illustrated via the following types.

  • Defensive pessimism: It is one of the best types and its idea overlaps with the optimism. It is portrayed as a personality trait which helps you out for achieving your goals. You critically analyze an idea, plan, action, purpose and then think about its possible risks and outcomes. Considering some risks will help you to make some arrangements to counter them. Hence, there is a possibility to reach your destination.
  • Risk Aversion: In risk aversion you have high estimate about the possible risks. You consider that if a work is taken into account, there are several outcomes at the end which can put you at risk. And then instead of getting output you will be at loss. For example, in risk aversion people will not invest money in a business company who say that in future they will get more benefit.
  • Negativity Bias: It is a tendency will is focus on the negative side of any perspective. For example, finding faults in people about their character and then pointing it out.
  • Rosy Retrospection: It is a tendency which makes you able to consider past as better than present. At that time you were considering those events as bad but what is happening currently is much worse than before. So things are just getting darker with time.
  • Defeatism: It is a state of mind when pessimism becomes a real problem and affects your efficiency in your work. A pessimist is so concerned about the possible outcomes and risk of a project that his performance will also affect the team work as a loss. Loss of self-esteem and the fear of future will not let it to happen as it should be.
  • Philosophical pessimism: It suggests that it is always better to expect worst for receiving best. All of the hopes and expectations that we have in life are irrational so you can grab the rope of rationality by philosophical pessimism.

How to be a pessimist?

Following are some of the ideas of Arthur for becoming a pessimist,

Accepting limits:

 He says that man can do what he will but he can’t will what he wills. You are free to act upon your goals but you are not free for deciding your goals. It means autonomy but not independence. Western philosophy says that nothing is impossible. But it is not applicable for all. You can only act according to your surroundings.

These limitations include the country you were born in, family, healthy environment for getting opportunities, genetic setup for making you healthy or diseased, etc. All of these factors are acting to restrict you to do that what you actually were too. So willingly or unwillingly, you have to accept your limits to be happy.

Accept change and destruction:

 He advised recognizing the pointlessness of everything. We are in a cage of our desires and there is no way out for the fulfillment. Even if we achieve our goal, still there is nothing which is eternal. Everything will change over time and then it will end forever. To accept the other side and be happy.

Acknowledge sufferings as the best teacher:

 Life is full of sorrows. And all of these sufferings teach us the real lesson in life. For example, the loss of your loved one will force you to meditate. At that time you will think how temporary life is. So all you need to do for providing meaning to life is to spend your time as much as you can with your loved ones.

Sacrifice pleasure:

He advised that in order to have pleasure in life, you have to sacrifice it for avoiding pain. You may be happy with your success or sharp mentality. But one day you will lose your job or maybe affliction with aging with the passage of time. So all you once own for happiness will end up with pain and suffering.

Wrapping up/ Conclusion:

We had a detailed discussion that what exactly pessimism is. The context was particularly targeting Arthur Schopenhauer’s remarkable thoughts on pessimism. He showed us how we can live happily if we acknowledge some of the facts. All of those suffering and affliction are because of the expectations that we have in our life. We do not acknowledge that life is not for providing us comfort. Rather there are certain limitations in the form of the place, time, or other surrounding facts, acting to provide us trouble at the end. Then how it is when we start accepting them as they are. And stop chasing happiness because evil will overcome goodness.

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