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Confessions of an Ex-Pessimist

It's personal confession time. What changed me from a hardcore pessimist to a sold-out optimist?

Distant rain storm

Sometime in my childhood, I figured out a fantastic way to avoid disappointment. After fighting back the tears of another letdown—maybe a fun trip that was cancelled, or a promised activity that never happened—I decided I wouldn’t let disappointment hurt me again. The next time something good was promised me, I didn’t believe it. I told myself, “It’s not going to happen. It’s going to get cancelled. And when it does, I won't be surprised or sad at all!”

And it worked. Next time my parents told me we couldn’t do this or that fun thing after all, not a single tear dripped down my cheek. I wasn’t sad at all. Of course, I never felt any joy from that point forward, but the lack of pain almost made up for my lack of happiness.

Some years later, I learned that this was called “Pessimism,” or “Negativity,” and that’s when I found out that it was banned in our house.

Because I didn’t keep all those wonderful negative thoughts to myself—I had to share the gloominess. My dad started calling me Eeyore. Friends began calling me Johnny Raincloud. Every time a cloud passed by I said it would rain. If we couldn’t find a parking spot, it was time to give up. I was the downer of the family, shooting down every positive, hopeful thought anybody had to say about a bad situation. I did it as a very sincere favor.

I couldn’t understand why my mom was against my pessimism. In my mind, pessimism made so much sense. The sooner you admit the problem exists, the sooner you can come up with a solution. Optimism, on the other hand, denies the problem, waits for help from the skies and says that everything’s okay. Not very practical.

But my negative thinking became more pronounced, and more vocal. More annoying. And more depressing. I truly tried to make the best of things by assuming the worst of things.

My dad was finally fed up with my pessimism, and told me what was wrong with that way of thinking in a way I never understood before.

You see, if pessimism is true, there’s really no point to living. Seriously. It’s all going wrong, it’s all going to end, and there’s no reason to try. Don’t work on the relationship today because it’s destined to fail. Don’t wait for it to get better and the sun to come out, because the whole world’s going up in flames in the end anyways.

Pessimism can only save you by killing you.

I hadn’t realized what I was doing. I didn’t know that I was sapping the joy from people around me. I thought that optimists were simply delusional, hoping for the best. I had thought it a favor to be negative around them—but I was doing just the opposite.

Hope is life, and I was killing it.

Optimists aren’t delusional, and that’s what hit me the hardest. Optimists know that many things are going to fail, but they hope for the best even still. They aren’t crazy—they are brave.

And—as an ex-pessimist myself, I have permission to say this—pessimism is cowardice.

Pessimism is cowardice.

Pessimism is failure to face the unknown future without giving up. Pessimism is a false prophecy that shouts, "All is lost"—before it happens.

Some friends now call me a realist. I’m trying to go further than that. Even though the world has taught us, “Don’t get your hopes up,” I believe God wants us to get them sky-high.

If you ever face a situation and there is literally no good ending in sight, what do you do?

In the book of Genesis, Joseph asked that question in prison after his brothers sold him into slavery. That’s when he learned one of the most inspiring lessons the Bible has to offer: What others intend for evil, God turns into good.

All that means is that miracles happen. If everything goes completely wrong, God still wants to turn it around. But we have to believe Him in order to release that.

Does this apply to writing? Absolutely. The more optimistic I become, the more productive I become. The two are inseparably linked. When you infuse hope into your writing, not only will your readers be inspired, but your self-criticism will be less damaging, more constructive. Your writing habits will improve, because you aren't stuck in a cycle of "This will never be read by anyone" thinking.

Just remember ... happy writer = successful writing.

Happy writer = successful writing.

I never thought I would be an optimist. But now I can’t help it. There’s too much goodness in the Lord to be anything else.

If a pessimist can turn into an optimist, then that proves there’s still hope in the world. There's a huge need for good writing, inspirational speaking, solid teaching. Don't shut yourself up under the lie that nobody needs what you can give. There are people depending on you to write exactly what they need to hear!

So, in conclusion, we can see that the glass is neither half empty or half full.

It’s filled to the brim.

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Joshua Sword

I'm twenty-six and work as a livestream producer by day. I'm highly facetious. It's very hard to take me seriously, a fact that I carefully nurture and protect, because I don't want people calling me Mr. Josh and kissing my hand and handing me scotch or whatever they do in the serious world. I like my own world just fine.

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Are your characters stuck? Download my quick guide, The Character Generator, to create a motivated, conflicted character in five minutes. Or all your money back. (Well, it's free. But you get the idea.)

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