Bryan W. Conway
March 2022 Newsletter: The Art of Pessimism ⛈️
Here is a take that you don't see very often: I am a pessimist.
Unapologetically. In a world where life coaches and social media influencers are perpetually preaching positivity, I generally tend to dwell near the other end of the spectrum.
I am not bragging; being a pessimist is a burden at times. But it is a burden that I have learned to embrace and actually leverage. If you expect things in your life to go sideways, you can generally find the motivation to mitigate the anticipated damage.
The roots of this mindset can be traced to my childhood. I wasn't a particularly athletic or academic kid, so I learned to find a comfort zone in losing.
I didn't want to lose and I didn't try to lose, but I tended to suffer a fair amount of L's. Nothing especially tragic or demoralizing, but the frequency of losing made it easier to cope with.
Another upside of this mindset: the heightened sense of joy I experience when I do win! When a project goes right, I get that job I applied for, that repair only costs a few dollars, a medical test comes back negative, etc., it is amazing! I braced myself for the worst and nothing bad happened.
Pessimism has also freed me from things like gambling and superstition. Why would I waste money betting on a sporting event or a blackjack hand that is going to go belly-up? Knocking on wood, crossing my fingers, and avoiding black cats are for people who run away from misfortune. I have a healthy relationship with misfortune; either it happens or it doesn't. Bring it, let’s see what happens.
Am I trying to recruit you for Team Pessimism? Not at all. If you are optimistic and upbeat, that is a gift, and I would never try to dissuade you from that outlook on life. But understand that the pessimistic are out there. We aren't trying to sabotage the level of happiness in the world, but we do live life a little closer to the dark side most of the time!
Why choose this topic for an author newsletter? Because I leveraged my pessimism to craft a number of compelling storylines in my novel Sandusky Burning! Things tend to break bad for the protagonist, Brady Sullivan. Sometimes in spectacular ways.
Wishful thinking without associated action is not the solution for Brady. The way forward is for him to realistically analyze his options, with worst-case scenarios in mind. To prevail, it will take cunning, the execution of a bold plan, and a little bit of luck🍀!