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Pessimism is a state of mind that views life and its aspects from a negative perspective, especially in regard to future events.
- If you expect the worst from a person, you can't ever be disappointed. Only the disappointed resort to violence. The pessimist, which is another way of saying the Augustinian, takes a sort of gloomy pleasure in observing the depths to which human behaviour can sink. The more sin he sees, the more his belief in Original Sin is confirmed. Everyone likes to have his deepest convictions confirmed; that is one of the most abiding of human satisfactions.
- Whatever pretended pessimists in search of notoriety may say, most people are naturally kind, at heart.
- Creeds matter very little. ... The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. So I elect for neither label.
- James Branch Cabell, in The Silver Stallion : A Comedy of Redemption (1926)
- The essence of my optimism is constructive pessimism.
- Fausto Cercignani in Quotes We Cherish : Quotations from Fausto Cercignani (2013) by Brian Morris, p. 5
- I am so often accused of gloominess and melancholy. And I think I'm probably the most cheerful man around. I don't consider myself a pessimist at all. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel completely soaked to the skin. … I think those descriptions of me are quite inappropriate to the gravity of the predicament that faces us all. I've always been free from hope. It's never been one of my great solaces. I feel that more and more we're invited to make ourselves strong and cheerful. .... I think that it was Ben Jonson who said, I have studied all the theologies and all the philosophies, but cheerfulness keeps breaking through.
- I believe that there is a moral government; and that God reigns. I am no pessimist; I give thanks to the good Lord, and also to the good men through whom He has worked.
- Man, at least when educated, is a pessimist. He believes it safer not to reflect on his achievements; Jove is known to strike such people down.
- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty (1977)
- Don't ever become a pessimist … a pessimist is correct oftener than an optimist, but an optimist has more fun, and neither can stop the march of events.
- The literature doesn't show that positive thinking helps (sports) performance; what the literature shows is that negative thinking hurts performance.
- Dr. Colleen Hacker, Journal of Excellence Issue 4 page 14
- My life was without past or future; death, the pessimist would say, "a consummation devoutly to be wished." But a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living. Night fled before the day of thought, and love and joy and hope came up in a passion of obedience to knowledge. Can anyone who has escaped such captivity, who has felt the thrill and glory of freedom, be a pessimist?
- If it be true that optimism compels the world forward, and pessimism retards it, then it is dangerous to propagate a pessimistic philosophy.
- Let pessimism once take hold of the mind, and life is all topsy-turvy, all vanity and vexation of spirit. There is no cure for individual or social disorder, except in forgetfulness and annihilation. "Let us eat, drink and be merry," says the pessimist, "for to-morrow we die." If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone.
- No pessimist ever won an audience commensurately wide with his genius.
- Every optimist moves along with progress and hastens it, while every pessimist would keep the world at a standstill. The consequence of pessimism in the life of a nation is the same as in the life of the individual. Pessimism kills the instinct that urges men to struggle against poverty, ignorance and crime, and dries up all the fountains of joy in the world.
- Immune to the blandishments of religions, countries, families, and everything else that puts both average and above-average citizens in the limelight, pessimists are sideliners in both history and the media. Without a belief in gods or ghosts, unmotivated by a comprehensive delusion, they could never plant a bomb, plan a revolution, or shed blood for a cause.
- Thomas Ligotti, in The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
- if we see a light at the end of the tunnel,
it's the light of an oncoming train.
- Robert Lowell, in "Since 1939." Day by Day. (1977)
- Maslow's psychology, firmly based upon Freud and Watson, simply points out that the optimistic side of the picture has been overlooked; the deterministic laws of our 'lower nature' hold sway in their won field; but there are other laws. Man's freedom is a reality — a reality that makes a difference to his physical, as well as his mental health. When Frankl's prisoners ceased to believe in the possibility of freedom, they grew sick and died. On the other hand, when they saw that Dachau had no chimney, standing out all night in the rain seemed no great hardship; they laughed and joked. The conclusion needs to be stated in letters ten feet high. In order to realise his possibilities, man must believe in an open future; he must have a vision of something worth doing. And this will not be possible until all the determinism and pessimism that we have inherited from the 19th century — and which has infected every department of our culture, from poetry to atomic physics — has been dismissed as fallacious and illogical. Twentieth century science, philosophy, politics, literature — even music — has been constructed upon a weltanschauung that leaves half of human nature out of account.
- Colin Wilson in New Pathways In Psychology: Maslow and the Post-Freudian Revolution, p 219-220 (1972)
- This is a pleasant surprise, Archie. I would not have believed it. That of course is the advantage of being a pessimist; a pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant.