How to Stop Being Pessimistic

When you get the flu, a virus has invaded your body through a very specific point of vulnerability. Here's how it usually happens: First you get the virus on your hand. Someone sneezed or coughed and the virus landed on a counter you touched. Or someone touched their face, and you should hands with them. You get the virus on your hands, but it doesn't enter through the skin on your hands. Your skin protects you. Skin is not vulnerable to a flu infection.

But at some point, you touch or rub one of your eyes. The virus is washed into the moisture of the eye, washed down through the eye's drainage tube into the back of your throat and that is where the virus enters a cell in the lining of your throat and starts its parasitic life cycle. The eye is the point of vulnerability. It is a vulnerable opening, a chink in your armor, and that is where your defenses can be breached by a virus.

And just as a virus comes in through our body's points of vulnerability, the lamprey of the mind infects us through specific points of vulnerability. We have four main places where negativity can invade:

1. The brain. We have a brain that evolved to pay special attention to potential danger.

2. Communication. We have a strong, biologically-driven urge to be accepted by others.

3. The nature of reality. The lamprey can invade us through the inevitably misleading experiences we get under certain conditions.

4. The media. Perhaps most powerfully, we can be infected through a mutation called television. TV functions like the Erie canal, opening us to unprecedented numbers of lampreys we have developed no natural defense against.

The three main ways to protect yourself from a pessimism infection are:

1. Remind yourself of the four biases.

2. Question motives of the source.

3. Control your input.

Once you have rid your mind of mental lampreys, here's how to stay free of them: Keep Your Mind Free of Negativity

If you think you're not a pessimist, read this.

Read about pessimism's impact on your immune system: Pessimism and Health.

Read this review of a movie that demonstrates overcoming the four negative biases above: Rocky Balboa and Determination.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.

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