The Seductive Siren Song Of Pessimism

by: Russ Thornton

Watch the news and it appears the world is falling apart.

You can find a “glass half empty” viewpoint pretty much anywhere you turn.

Maybe that’s why we collectively flock to Facebook and Instagram . . . so we can see the “highlight reels” of peoples’ lives.

But if you watch or read the news, expect more of the same old programming.

Whether it’s the movies or our daily lives, it seems we’re wired to watch conflict. Whether it’s crime, violence, drama or apocalyptic forecasts, we can’t get enough.

But why?

For a good explanation, I encourage you to read this article from Morgan Housel.

It’s called “The Seduction of Pessimism,” and it provides some sound theory on why pessimism, in general, is more appealing to us than optimism.

This is the best thing I’ve read this week, and I hope you’ll find it as engaging as I did.

And to be absolutely clear, I’m not a Pollyanna who thinks everything is always champagne and roses.

In fact, I’m reminded of this on a near-daily basis through my conversations with people who are facing big personal challenges associated with things like divorce and widowhood.

Yet, I consider myself an optimist and a generally positive person.

Reading the article I suggested above, you might think I have a dampened sense of self-preservation or that perhaps I’m not enough of a critical thinker.

I would respectfully disagree with this conclusion.

Instead, I’m reminded of this quote from financial services industry veteran Nick Murray:

Optimism is the only realism.”

For more context around this quote, check out this PDF.

As I’ve shared before, I don’t watch CNBC or other business news. I don’t read The Wall Street Journal or Investor’s Business Daily. And while I consume a lot of information and do a lot of reading online, almost none of it is news or current-event based information.

You may interpret my approach as sticking my head in the sand or deliberate ignorance.

I prefer to think of it as “informed apathy.”

Or, as I’ve said and written many times before, I believe in focusing on the things I can control.

I would encourage you to do the same. And avoid the seductive siren song of pessimism.