In Praise of Pessimism

first_imgIn the coming months, all of us are going to have to figure out how to gird ourselves psychologically for whatever the new normal might be. “Optimism tempered by realism,” tends to be the favored formulation, and sure, that’s fine; it may even be politically and economically sound. That Eeyore is having her moment. The coronavirus is springtime for pessimists. Every gloomy thought I’ve had about this pandemic has more or less come to pass. So when I read of a possibly more devastating wave of Covid-19 this coming winter, or that recovered patients in South Korea are suddenly becoming reinfected, or that a vaccine might take north of 18 months to develop and mass produce, I merely think Welcome to my brain. Those are the lyrics of my personal death-metal soundtrack. They’ve been playing in my head all along. You could argue that pessimism is, at this moment, not just sensible but pro-social. Last month, when I read that 75 percent of all neighborhood restaurants will likely shutter for good, I bought pastries for my neighbors from the one local bakery I couldn’t bear to see disappear. (I recommend doing this in your own neighborhood, if you’re still lucky enough to have disposable income. It’s win-win-win.) Because I assumed the worst, I actually got off my duff and did something. I can only hope I’ll have the wherewithal to do the same going forward. … “I think the edge a defensive pessimist might have when the economy reopens,” Norem wrote me in another email, “is that they will continue to take more precautions than non-defensive pessimists, and they’ll prepare for the open/close/open/close roller coaster that many people are predicting. They’re more likely to plan for different contingencies and scenarios, and thus less likely to be caught off guard by any particular one.” “Defensive pessimism is costly in that it doesn’t get rid of your anxiety,” Julie Norem, a professor of psychology at Wellesley College, told me. “But the flip side is that it keeps your mind anchored and focuses you on things you can control.” Which is what distinguishes it from generalized anxiety, garden-variety neuroticism and catastrophizing, by the way. Defensive pessimism is productive. … Read the whole story: The New York Times More of our Members in the Media > But I’d also like to make a positive case for pessimism. Defensive pessimism, specifically. Because if things start going downhill, defensive pessimists will be the ones with their feet already on the brakes. Norem, who’s been studying defensive pessimism since the early 1980s, told me that she collected her most recent round of data on March 20 — eight days after the World Health Organization deemed Covid-19 a pandemic, but before all but one state, California, had begun enforcing stay-at-home orders. The correlation was clear: The more defensively pessimistic her participants were, the more likely they were to be canceling travel and avoiding public gatherings — or to have done so already. Confession: I have a secret talent for making lemons out of lemonade. It may not be readily apparent. I smile a lot and make cheerful conversation; my end of the dinner table is not some horrible event horizon beyond which all sunlight disappears. But tucked inside me, almost always, is a grumbling Eeyore. …last_img read more

Doris lands historic gold medal at Commonwealth Games

first_img– Red-carpet welcome to be extended by the National Sports Commission The ‘Golden’ Leap! Troy Doris during his historic gold-medal jump at the Commonwealth Games.LEADING up to the Olympic Games in Brazil in 2016, Troy Doris was considered by pundits around the world the one to challenge USA’s Christian Taylor for the gold, especially after resetting the country’s national record in the triple jump (17.18 metres). But the Guyanese, competing at the games for the first time, finished a commendable seventh-place (16.90 metres). Fast-forward to 2018, Doris, 29, now stands atop of the Commonwealth as champion, becoming only the fourth Guyanese to win a gold medal at the prestigious games, hosted at Gold Coast, Australia. Doris had just three of six legal jumps, the first, 16.67 metres, which would not have given him a medal, before a leap of 16.88 brought the ultimate hardware.His third jump of 16.26 was inconsequential, as Dominica’s Yordanys Duranona Garcia’s first jump of 16.86, was to be the farthest he extended in the pit to claim a silver medal. Cameroon’s Marcel Mayack II earned the bronze medal with his personal best leap of 16.46 metres.The Chicago native and former standout at the University of Iowa only started to represent Guyana in 2015 and since then, has left an imprint on track and field, carrying the Golden Arrowhead around the world, from the IAAF Diamond League to now, the Commonwealth Games.Doris now joins Aliann Pompey (400m, 2002), Winfield Braithwaite (Boxing, 1978) and Philip Aaron Edwards (Athletics, 1930) as the athletes to win gold for Guyana at the Commonwealth Games.Meanwhile, Director of Sport Christopher Jones, in congratulating Doris on his achievement, said, “His medal was expected. I’ve been following him closely, and for the last eight months, you can see his rigorous training regime in preparation for the Commonwealth Games. So this is the manifestation of hard work, discipline and dedication.”Jones further added that “it speaks to what could be achieved if long-term athlete development and support is there and the NSC stands ready and willing to do what we could to ensure many more Troy Doris could be seen on the world stage. The necessary support is most important and critical and I hope that his medal will be a stimulus for younger athletes in Guyana.”Meanwhile, with the National Sports Awards set for May 23, Jones told Chronicle Sport that the National Sports Commission (NSC) will be celebrating Doris, noting, “I will communicate with him and ensure that he’s here for the Sports Awards and will offer all travel and accommodation to allow him to be properly honoured, meet with the press and other local officials.”In a report on the popular online news outlet, Demerara Waves, Minister of Social Cohesion Dr George Norton, who also holds the responsibility for Sport, was quoted as stating that he’s “delighted because I think that while our neighbouring Caribbean countries are doing well, it was time for us to strike gold”.last_img read more