Alain de Botton on why we should all value pessimism more:
It’s time to recognize how odd and counterproductive is the optimism on which we have grown up. For the last 200 years, despite occasional shocks, the Western world has been dominated by a belief in progress, based on its extraordinary scientific and entrepreneurial achievements. But from a broader historical perspective, this optimism is an anomaly. Humans have spent the greater part of their existence drawing a curious comfort from expecting the worst. In the West, lessons in pessimism derive from two sources: Roman Stoic philosophy and Christianity. It may be time to remind ourselves of a few of their lessons—not to add to our misery but to alleviate our injured surprise and sorrow.