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Be pessimistic when you’re young, but optimistic when you’re old

The optimist is on the right hand side of the picture, with her arm round the pessimist.

The optimist is on the right hand side of the picture, with her arm round the pessimist.

Be pessimistic while you’re young, but optimistic when you get older. Do you agree?

I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the message from Diana Athill in her entertaining autobiographical installment  Somewhere Towards The End.

To boil it down further: Be thankful, be appreciative, be optimistic. (Don’t worry too much about being pessimistic at all.)

It’s not just Diana Athill’s credo – she was inspired by newspaper interview with 100+-year old Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer.

According to Alice, people are born either pessimistic or optimistic.

According to Diana, pessimism or “a painful sensitivity to evil” may be useful in providing a spur to struggle against wrong, but optimism enables one to endure.

Do you agree with either of them? I think I do. Though I also think one can change or learn new behaviour – so the born pessimist may mellow Continue reading

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