Negativity and Getting Ahead
Before you click off because I began with a quote from an actress/Country singer, read on, please. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
This question has been pinballing around in my head for a while, and I think the interjection of a trip away from the norm has forced it out.
Do negative people achieve more?
Or, moreover, are pessimists perceived as more intelligent?
My life is filled with a nice array of optimists, pessimists, somewhere-in-betweeners, brilliant scholars, intuitive seekers, artistically gifted, and logically talented folks. Yeah, it's a good bunch. And me? I'm a mix of optimism and pessimism, depending on the arena. I'd like to pat myself on the back and give a check for the intelligent and creative box. And I'm feeling more and more, that in order to gain respect as an intellect, a healthy dose of skepticism, bordering on negativity, is required.
If you pay attention to the conversations happening because of articles like this from Huffington Post, you're inclined to believe that optimists will outlive everyone else. In that piece, Dr. David Hamilton shares a 30-year study of 447 people at the Mayo Clinic which found that an optimist's risk of early death was cut nearly in half over her pessimist subjects.
Of course data can go lots of ways. Take a look at this study which reports exact opposite findings to declare that pessimists live longer. "Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions."
No matter who outlives who, there's a quality of life question at hand for me. Why do we (and here I mean I, too) often brush off positive people as a bit shy of a full load? And why is hopefulness seen as naivety?
Think of it like this. Rattle off in your head the ten most intelligent people you know personally... How many of them would you call optimistic?
I have nothing against pessimists; I'm quite a fan of a good dose of sarcasm and darkness has its place. But here I wonder: do you have to be a little jaded or even a lot jaded to be respected as smart, intelligent, highly capable?
Apparently Gretchen Rubin and I were mind melding on this topic. Here's some of her thoughts on why she'd rather be enthusiastic over confident:
There’s a dark tendency in human nature to mock or attack other people’s enthusiasms. It’s easy to make fun of ping-pong or Barry Manilow or Star Trek or wine-tasting — but why do it?
Have you all encountered this? Have you thought less of someone because they were just too happy?