Healthy Living

9 Things Pessimists Want You To Know

Sometimes life's better when it's not viewed through rose-colored glasses.

Sure, optimism certainly has its health benefits, but there's actually something to be said for a glass-half-empty mentality. Pessimists even boast positive health outcomes of their own. Not only that, their mentality actually aids in preparing them for dealing with life's, well, challenging circumstances.

Not everyone looks on the bright side, and that's perfectly OK. Below are a few things you should know about pessimists.

1. They're not all doom and gloom.

It's not that a pessimist never looks on the bright side, they just choose to view circumstances more starkly or in black and white. But even Eeyore had a few silver lining moments. Take this quote from A.A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner, for example, which shows that even the most well-known pessimist can see the positive side when there is one:

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

2. They're prepared.

You say "catastrophist" or "defeatist," they say prepared. Pessimists keep low expectations of situations in order to prepare for the potential downfall. According to research published by Wellesley College, this strategy, also known as defensive pessimism, allows these individuals to avoid anxiety by working through the worst possible outcomes.

"Those who are defensively pessimistic about their future may be more likely to invest in preparatory or precautionary measures, whereas we expect that optimists will not be thinking about those things," pessimism researcher Frieder Lang, a professor of psychology and gerontology at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, told the Wall Street Journal in 2014.

3. High hopes may actually hurt them.

Downside thinkers tend to logically work through a situation knowing full well there's a chance that something negative could happen. In fact, according to the Wellesley College research, if defensive pessimists raise their hopes or expectations of an outcome, their performance suffers more than it would if they anticipate a worst-case scenario.

4. They may be more productive.

Defensive pessimism may also encourage those individuals to power through their tasks. Imagining what could go wrong often motivates them to work harder and get more done in order to avoid the worst-possible outcome, Julie Norem, a professor of psychology at Wellesley College and author of The Positive Power of Negative Thinking, previously told HuffPost.

5. It may help them when they're older.

A 2013 study published by the American Psychological Association found that older adults who had low expectations for their future were more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who were more optimistic.

6. Sometimes they stand in their own way...

A downside of looking on the downside? It could be a self-fulfilling fate. Negative thinking could manifest itself as the actual outcome of a situation (not to mention it's also been tied to depression).

However, positive thinking isn't without fault, either. Research suggests too much of it could set someone up for failure. Perhaps the antidote is a Goldilocks combination of both: Prepare for the worst, but also practice self-compassion or self-confidence to encourage the best.

7. ...But they're able to better handle their own life circumstances.

Glass-half-empty thinkers sometimes see situations a little more clearly. "I think that pessimism to the extent that it allows you to accurately assess what's happening in your life is important," pessimism researcher Erin O'Mara, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Dayton in Ohio, told the Wall Street Journal.

8. They have strong relationships.

Optimism when it comes to relationships may not make them so rosy. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that some types of bright-side thinking may put couples at risk for marital dissatisfaction or deterioration because they don't work on problem solving.

9. They don't want to be a Pollyanna.

Pessimists choose to see the reality of any situation -- and there are some perks to it. As Pulitzer-prize winning writer and author George Will once put it, "The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised."

In short, life isn't always unicorns and sunshine. There's a flip side to the bright side -- and recognizing that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

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