The Glass Is Better Empty: Why Optimists Are Actually Unhappier Than Pessimists

Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. - Woody Allen

Human categorization has occurred since the beginning of civilization. For centuries, we’ve found ways to pin personalities, traits and fortune to opposing sides of a pendulum. The good, the bad. The rich, the poor. The pretty, the ugly. The optimists, the pessimists.

Those with a good outlook on life and those with the bad. The ones who carried around the half empty glass and those with the full one. Those who were happy, those who were miserable.

Pessimists have long held the company of the latter side of the comparison. The bad side. The side that describes the unfortunate ones.

Optimists have always been the favorite child. Those who had the positive and hopeful outlook on life were long deemed the better ones. The ones with the constant positivity and hopeful spirits were praised and set as examples to follow.

The pessimists were scorned like the child who didn’t fit in with the family. Yet, like the unfavorite child, why is pessimism getting the short end of the stick?

Whether pessimism is bred or created, it's something, like looks and wealth, we can't always choose for ourselves. Whether we become pessimists through the bitterness of life or we're born with bitter blood, it’s not fair to assume we are unhappier for it. If anything, pessimists are likely happier than those perpetually-smiling optimists.

We understand what it means to be miserable and how to learn from it. Just because we see the grim and dark sides of life doesn't mean we don't know how to be happy when there's something to be happy about. It just means we know how to prepare for the moments when happiness is not an option.

Because, a lot of the time, life isn't great. Many times we're running into brick walls and slamming against closed doors. We're hitting road blocks and ducking low blows. While the optimists come crashing down after an unexpected hit, it's the pessimists who barely feel a sting.

It takes strength to be pessimistic. It takes practice and endurance to be comfortable with the idea of rejection, unhappiness and the worst-case scenario.

It's easy to hope for the best, but much harder to face the truth. It's hard to prepare for the terrible and the ugly when you just want to think about all the good. But all pessimists would agree, it's better to be an honest martyr than a delusional fool.

The low blows hit them harder

By constantly believing everything will work out in life, optimists are many times setting themselves up for blows they are not prepared to recover from.

They don’t think of plan B's and second options because they only prepare for the “best-case scenario.” Rather than facing the truth of the possible outcomes, they build themselves up with delusions and false realities, making the wrong outcomes that much harder to bear.

They’ve never basked in sorrow

German writer and  political figure, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, said, "If you've never eaten while crying you don’t know what life tastes like.”

While one should never wish sorrow upon another, there is something to be said about those who have experienced intense sorrow or have truly “tasted life.”

There’s a certain type of soul that can bask in the brooding nature that comes with pessimism. Something in them that connects to the true sorrow inherent in humanity.

They live life with too many expectations

Didn’t your mother tell you expectation is the root of all heartache? Building up something that may never happen is the surest way to feel that deep sting of disappointment. If you don’t expect anything from anyone, you will never end up upset.

If you don’t expect things from work, you will never end up feeling incompetent or cheated. If you never expect anything from the world, you won’t end up feeling betrayed and beaten by it.

They're not comfortable with their unhappiness

Unhappiness is a part of life. Life sh*ts on everyone, and being able to thrive off that part of your life is what separates the content from the disappointed.

Pessimists are comfortable in their unhappiness and the idea of further pain. They are able to live and work through it, unlike optimists who just dream about something better.

Not getting what you want hurts. It's an unpleasant feeling that most hope to avoid. Many times, it's what keeps people from even contemplating dreams and goals.

The fear of disappointment and the unhappiness that accompanies it is too much to handle. Pessimists, on the other hand, are comfortable with the idea of misery. They are used to it. They bask in it and expect it. They are content in all parts of their lives, the bad times and the good.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It