The most important thing I've learned is that optimism doesn't work.
It seems like something foolish to express, but I think a dose of pessimism right now isn't all that bad. We're reaching the last days of one of History's toughest years and predicting grey skies and looking at all ant color doesn't seem like a good idea in the first instance, but believe me, it is. At least it's better than the pink panorama and making us illusions that everything will be fine and better just by wanting it. It is preferable to put your feet on the ground and hold our ground well than to be building castles in the air because as things stand, we're going to drop them.
In March, while we were at a planning meeting, participants were divided into two sides: those of us who believed that everything would return to normal after Easter or when later in May and those who predicted that before October things would not be improved. I remember we're all shocked at pessimists and labeled absurd. Well, they weren't right. The facts repackaged any expectations.
In a recent interview, Woody Allen in which he talked about his autobiography, he was asked that if he remained as a pessimistic person and the answer was yes, that at least he remained just as pessimistic as he has always been; even more so. If that had been the conclusion of the answer, it would have left us much to be desired, yet he added:
I think the world... I have always been pessimistic about the human condition, but I think the world is much worse today, and I am very pessimistic about the future of the world, and in general, I am pessimistic about life. But I don't think the world is in good shape or that it's on the right track, but it's moving toward its own destruction. Nuclear, climate, far-right movements. It just hasn't moved in the right direction; in a healthy direction.
Woody Allen's stance is radical, scathing but real. It allows us to settle our feet on the ground, appreciate things with perspective, see the scenarios as they are to turn them around: to take a healthy direction. The bad news is that we have taken positions that, instead of being optimistic, we are being so naive that we border on the limits of danger. We have suffered from a number of people who are looking for the positive side to everything, generating fantasies around circumstances, rather than observing, analyzing, understanding and solving.
One of the most appreciated qualities this year has been resilience. This ability to camp the storm, adapt to circumstances and deliver positive results despite adverse changes. A resilient man is not an optimist. I'm afraid a resilient is more of a cautious pessimist. For example, if an optimist leaves his house and looks at the cloudy gray sky, he hears thunder and feels a lot of air he'll say: today it's not going to rain. He'll leave his house without an umbrella and come back made soup. For his part, the pessimist, will leave the house, see that the day is sunny and take the umbrella, just in case.
Clearly, the optimist risks going through life carrying an umbrella that he may never need. However, in the case of necessity, it will be prepared. He'll be the person who won't leave fate to chance and take care of it. It's not that he's a lucky person, it's that he really had the care and precaution to prepare good fortune.
There was a time when we frequently listened to those optimists who repeated that if anyone could imagine anything, they could make it. "I've already met, " they repeated with happiness that even caused them drownings. Such was their enthusiasm that they believed so much in their projects, in their endeavors and in their ideas that they did not even expect to check whether they would work or not, they jumped that step and went straight to spend money that had not yet been generated.
The problem with that optimism is the naivety that has attached to it. It's not about not believing, it's about sustaining. The kind of pessimism I'm talking about doesn't let us fall into inaction. On the contrary, look for the answers to find a way to do things. The enthusiast who throws himself like the blind guy who hits the piñata, can hit it and break it to the first stick. But what if I don't? Since he's not ready, he breaks into a thousand pieces and then he does get cornered without knowing what's next.
That's why I'm afraid Woody Allen is right. A pessimist is not a catastrophist. He's a person who has the clarity to stop being naive and work to get things out the way they want them to. Thus, the one who buys insurance does not do so because he lacks optimism, but because he does not want to stand badly in case something goes wrong. That's why being pessimistic isn't bad.
To deal with a problem, we have to know how to define it. That's the first thing a pessimist would do. Observing, justifying all the possibilities of failure and once valued, will take the first step. Yes, you'll leave your house with an umbrella, even if you don't need it, it's more you'll want not to need it. But he's going to take it, and so they won't take it by surprise. I insist, being pessimistic is not bad.