BECAUSE OF THE four negative biases, pessimism is the easy, natural way to think. And the invention of television has acted like an Erie Canal, allowing a flood of negativity — way more than we are evolved to deal with — into our minds. So you will have to do something to prevent yourself and the people around you from succumbing to a negative frame of mind.
I'm assuming you have already immunized yourself against negativity. If not, then check this out first. But if you've already immunized yourself, what about the people around you? They are easily infected with pessimism, cynicism, and defeatism.
What's the best way to help them free themselves from the darkness?
It would be nice if you could simply say, "I notice you are very negative and pessimistic. I'd like to teach you to change your ways." But of course, that wouldn't work. Most people get pretty defensive when they're criticized. And most people don't think of their own pessimism as pessimism, anyway. They think of it as "realism."
The attitude to adopt (and the truth of the matter) is: We're all in the same boat. We all have the four biases working against us. But we can help each other rise above it. We can help prevent the lampreys from sucking out our life force.
Here are Crush Pessimism's top six principles you can use to help free your friends from pessimism. Each link goes to a related article:
1. Focus on the health benefits of optimism (or the health dangers of pessimism). Focus on health. You don't have to say a word about your friend's pessimism. You can simply share little bits of information, as you learn it, about what this or that experiment has shown about the effect of pessimism and negative emotions. Start here. Keep this up here and there, and make it interesting, and over time, your friend will start to see pessimism differently. That's the beginning of change.
2. Share this site with others, without having to say a word. Get a bumper sticker or T-shirt with a simple message on it that directs people to crushpessimism.com.
3. Never fake a good mood. People can sense it, and it feels bad to you.
4. Clean your own mind of the last remnants of pessimistic lampreys. This is the most important thing you can do. The more clear-headed you are about what pessimism is, and how to cure yourself of it, the easier it will be to share that knowledge with others. If you really want to help your friends, the best thing you can do is thoroughly undemoralize yourself. I recommend doing the writing exercise for one hour a day for a month. Work on any negative emotion and any negative or pessimistic thought you have. Do this and not only will you be unbelievably light-hearted, but you will have learned the subject so well it will be easy to share with others in a way they will understand.
5. Explain how both pessimism and optimism can become self-fulfilling prophesies. This is probably the second-easiest way to enter into the conversation about pessimism. The first is talking about the health consequences. This is really talking about the success consequences. Some of the research in this area is really interesting and fun to share.
6. Share stories about yourself instead of talking about them. What have you changed in your own way of thinking? Why did you change it? What happened when you did? How did you do it? How did you find out about it? What did you learn that really got to you?