It’s unfortunately fairly common these days for people to have a lot of bad experiences. We take these experiences and they shape how we see future events. Sometimes that can be good, we learn from past mistakes and negative occurrences and try to do better in the future. However, there comes a time when realism becomes pessimism, and we have to stop seeing life through the bad that has happened before.
Let’s say you use a web site for something important for a long time, and it has frequent problems. Then you don’t go there for a few months. When you go back, it’s not really reasonable to assume that they’re still going to have constant issues. That was the past, and things may have changed. Maybe they upgraded or got better tech support. Or maybe something else changed and it won’t be a problem anymore.
Or maybe you’ve had a string of bad relationships. It’s not an absolute that you’ll always have bad relationships. If you’ve learned from the past and bettered yourself and you’re looking for better people, the next relationship may be the one you’ve always been dreaming of. Just because things have gone wrong or been bad multiple times in the past, that doesn’t mean that they always will be.
I think this is a big problem in our society. We also look at external things the same way. It’s like people who don’t vote because they don’t think it will matter because past elections went badly, or people who won’t boycott something because the last time they tried it didn’t work. No matter how many times something has gone wrong in the past, it never means that it always will. The next time could be the time when everything goes exactly as planned.
I think realism is more knowing that things could go wrong and being prepared while hoping for the best, than expecting that what was will continue to be. A realist would say that the world is a mess right now, but it can get better, through a whole lot of hard work. A pessimist would say that the world is a mess and it’s going to stay a mess. An optimist would say that the world isn’t that bad and it’s getting better. An over-optimist would say the world is already beautiful and will only get better. There are important distinctions in all of that.
I think a combination of realism and optimism are the best thing to have. Pessimism rarely has any value, and we can’t go too far to the other end of the spectrum either. What’s really important though is to let the past shape us for the better, not for worse. Even if things have been hell for a long time, every day is the day when it can all change. And even if things are still bad, with the right mindset, it doesn’t have to be as bad. It might not even seem that bad at all.