I think ‘hopeful pessimists’ have better lives than optimists – but I’m not positive

Unthinkable: It’s nice if your glass is always half full, but are you deluding yourself?

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer ‘believes pessimism to be true. When he cites the tragic poets, it is because he believes they were right in describing a world of suffering.’ Photograph: Getty images

The German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer ‘believes pessimism to be true. When he cites the tragic poets, it is because he believes they were right in describing a world of suffering.’ Photograph: Getty images

Psychologists are big on the benefits of optimism. “Being optimistic is not just a happy accessory to life. It is a vital precursor to individual and economic well-being,” according to Maureen Gaffney, whose book Your One Wild and Precious Life is one of two notable works on cheerfulness in the bestseller charts.

The other, In Fact: An Optimist’s Guide to Ireland at 100 by Mark Henry, applies to economics and politics the logic of seeing the glass as at least half full. For natural moaners like journalists, it makes for uncomfortable reading.

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