>Is optimism overrated?
>Barbara Ehreneich recently wrote a book called ‘Bright-Sided’ In it she argued that optimism is infectious, and that it contributed to the current economic recession. She argues that shortly before the crash, in the US in particular, people were starting to hold optimism above the facts i.e. ‘if I believe in it enough it will happen’. She even cites a story in a podcast about someone who is fired because they seemed too pessimistic, asking too many questions about what problems the housing market could bring.
She argues that this one-sided attitude (that optimism is always good and pessimism always bad) has entered general culture. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. But when she started displaying pessimism it seems many people thought her response abnormal. People wrote to her saying that she should treat her condition as a positive opportunity to reflect upon her life, embrace spiritualism and generally become happier.
I have to say I’ve noted similar things myself. In fact I took a job as a Sales Manager at the start of the recession. It was a small company and I knew very little about sales. It turned out neither did they. At a senior meeting I was told that despite the then current market trends, they still expected the business to grow on a certain path (I can’t remember by how much). I asked what they based this on and where they expected the sales to come from i.e. what were their biggest market areas in the past. Amazingly, they didn’t really know. I was promised some data but I never got it. So how did they come to their conclusion? Sheer optimism is my guess.
Do you think there was too much optimism prior to the crash? Maybe you think there still is?