In his worthwhile book, The Hapiness Hypothesis, Jonathan Haidt argues that the advantage optomists have over pessimists naturally compounds.
It’s true that the world is structured such that the rich tend to get richer as the poor get poorer, but it’s also true that the happy are likely to grow further happier than the sad.
When it comes to dealing with circumstances which are making them unhappy, “optimists expect their efforts to pay off, [so] they go right to work fixing the problem.”
Even when things fail, they have an inherent understanding that things tend to work out for the best.
When things go wrong, optimists naturally seek out the potential benefits buried within misfortune.
The narrative optimists write for themselves then, is one of constantly overcoming adversity.
Pessimists, on the other hand, live in a world with more apparent risk and less confidence to deal with it.
From the pessimist perspective it’s natural to feel trapped within a narrative wrought with hopelessness; one where bearing the consequences of injust circumstances seems more natural than attempting to change them.
Optimists and pessimists can be dealt the exact same adversity and each write opposing translations.
What’s frightening is that the way each retells the events in their own internal narrative has ripple effects on the remainder of their narrative.
Optimists are more likely to grow from adversity because they can antipate rewards for their efforts.
Pessimists are more likely to be enslaved by adversity because they spend more time managing their pain than resolving their adversity.
This doesn’t mean pessimists can’t grow from adversity. It just means they find it more difficult to do so on average.
“The key to growth is not optimism per se, it is the sense making which optimists find easy.”
Optimist, pessimist or anything inbetween, find a way to make sense of adversity. Come to terms with it. Relish it. Grow.