The Power of Positive and Negative Pessimistic Thinking.
I believe we live in a “connection economy” like Seth Godin started saying many years ago. Nothing kills a connection with someone like pessimism.
Pessimism not only kills your own creativity but also kills the creativity of those around you.
Positive thinking wears off, negative thinking sticks with us for weeks.
Pessimism kills professionally. Being a professional for me, most often, means helping others to gain results. An attitude like pessimism could cut a big hole in your results compared to what you could have created.
Even if you make it to your professional niche, to be a penetration tester and into demolition or breaking things you still need to be optimistic about; or you will eventually lose them to someone who does not do the job AND leaves a better feeling in the mouth. They might not even be as great at finding faults and blowing stuff as you are. They’d still get the job.
Pessimism damages relationships. Perception is the reality. If you’re always thinking and communicating the worst, you’ll turn people off and drive them away. Instead of growing closer, they’ll start looking for excuses to be someplace else with somebody different. There will always be someone else that is easier to be around.
If you find yourself often venting frustration about a person’s behavior or skill-level to a colleague after meeting a client, you are doing all three of yourself a huge disfavor. Your colleague will stop wanting to work with you because she has to carry your emotional garbage that you’re apparently now willing to deal with externally. It’s a total opposite if you turn it around and say “You know what, I believe in the 80/20 rule and I believe this a customer/friend that I don’t want to be a part of my circles. Should we focus on other people instead and then do something about it? But if the pattern is there then you will often vent your frustration at the same flaws and go back where you started.
That’s on you. If you’re just venting frustration it smells dead and bad. This will drive people away. Work with your feelings instead. You can’t change other people. If you can't change, they will try to leave you instead.
Dan Miller has an excellent podcast episode about Sceptic spouse that I warmly recommend you listen to regarding this subject. Try to listen with your co-workers.
Pessimism makes you sick. I read a study in the 80s that took saliva of people watching love films and these people had extra immunity, like healthy bacteria in them compared to most people, for up to an hour afterward. We all know pessimism drives up the stress level. I’ve also read a study where they said dementia correlated highly with a pessimistic attitude.
There have also been studies that show that health connection to other people helps heal people.
So if you find yourself venting your inner frustration toward other people, either in the meeting or afterward to some poor victim, what can you do?
What I’ve read about positive psychology is start with finding things that you are grateful for. Sure – life isn’t perfect but look for the beauty – not the cracks. Find things that make you smile. Find things that you are thankful for accomplishing. It could be small things like I promised myself to get decent sleep today and I managed to do it. Is today so much better thanks to my decision getting to bed early? Thanks to my discipline to not eating sugary foods today or never eating sugar ever. It could be anything in your life. You decide what’s healthy for you.
Most of the time when we are complaining about others, we are really screaming out loud to those who listen that we’re not happy about ourselves. And no one but yourself can change that. Doesn’t matter how much others keep trying.
You know that old saying: when you’re pointing a finger at someone most of your fingers are pointing back to yourself.
So give yourself some time to practice gratitude. Today, take on a new pair of glasses and see the small or big things you'll accomplish. While you’re at it, help shine a light of gratefulness on those around you as well. This will help you feel like you and others belong.