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Friday 19 August 2011

Readings: The Advantages of Pessimism

Alain de Botton has written some of the most erudite and funny nonfiction of the last decade.  I strongly recommend his books in the "Life and Change" page of the Changeways Clinic bookstore.

He's recently written an article that neatly parallels a recent talk that I gave at PsychologySalon's lecture series.  Mine was called "Toxic Optimism."  His, which is far more eloquent, is an article for the BBC News Magazine, and is called The Advantages of Pessimism.  It's available here.

Essentially he argues that by setting expectations unrealistically high, optimism brings about the very disappointment that it seeks to dispel.  Pessimism, on the other hand, sets the bar low, enabling reality to surpass expectations (and thereby cause happiness) much more frequently.  Read it and see if you agree.

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