Being pessimistic may be natural in many ways, but once someone has recognized pessimism and wants to get rid of it, pessimism can be cured. But if you have the goal of curing someone else's pessimism, how should you go about it? Should you tell someone they are pessimistic? Probably not. Most people would get defensive, of course.
Should you point out the thought-mistakes they make when they say something pessimistic? No. About any specific pessimistic statement, you could probably argue all day and never really get anywhere if the person isn't already committed to curing her own pessimism.
The best approach is to aim at the motivation. Deal with the how-to once she's motivated. Rather than argue with a particular pessimistic statement, convince her that optimism in general is superior to pessimism in general. Optimism is better in several ways:
1. It makes you more effective and successful
2. It makes you more persistent
3. You're more motivated to pursue goals and learn
4. Optimism prevents heart disease
5. It prevents cancer
6. It strengthens your bones
7. Optimism makes your intestines function better
8. It's good for your relationships
9. It makes you happier
One of the easiest, most practical and concrete approaches to converting someone to at least try to be more optimistic is to mention the consequences of pessimism on health. Remember that. Talk about the consequences on health. Nobody wants to get a disease.
Optimism isn't just nice. It doesn't just make you feel better. It has a real, measurable, and significant influence on your health and on your ability to succeed in the world.
Pessimism is unhealthy, unproductive, unnecessary, and undesirable. Bringing up these facts can open the conversation and begin the process of conversion to optimism better than any other approach.
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and Self-Reliance, Translated. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.