Good Advice or Not – Expect the Worst and You’ll Never be Disappointed?


Last year I traveled a lot and this year I have even more scheduled. Fortunately I enjoy it so it’s not a burden. I knew I must have been on the road a good bit last year, though, because each time I saw co-workers or friends they’d make comments like “world traveler” or “where have you been lately?” During my travels something happened that caught my ear and I thought it would make for a good blog post.
When I travel I park at the Thrifty lot at Port Columbus. It’s really nice because I pull up, someone gets in my car then I drive right up to the terminal and they go park the car for me. When I return my car is waiting for me with the engine on, A/C or heat blasting, and the bill is prepaid. Pretty nice!
As I was driving to the terminal for one of my trips I was making small talk with the Thrifty valet and the subject turned to the weather. He made a comment about bad weather and I corrected him saying I’d heard it was supposed to be nice. He replied, “I’ll expect the worst then I won’t be disappointed if it happens and I’ll be happy if it doesn’t.”
I often talk about the contrast phenomenon which tells us how we experience something is dramatically impacted by what we experience beforehand. For example, if I know you need some money and I offer you $100 then tell you I was kidding and give you $10 you’re probably a little bummed. However, if I say I only have a dollar on me but then come up with $10, which I give you, you’re probably pretty happy. The same $10 gets two completely different responses because of what happened moments before in the expectation I created.
Essentially the valet was employing a self-defense mechanism. He didn’t want to be disappointed if the good weather failed to materialize. In his mind, by expecting the worst he wouldn’t feel so down if bad weather did come about but he also thought he’d enjoy the nice weather even more if it proved to come true.
I’m sure in his mind he felt he’d win either way. If that’s the case then why not view all situations that way? On the surface that makes some sense but what I’ve noticed with people who view events in life like that, they also tend to look for the negative in most things and that negative outlook influences many other things. Here are a few examples:

You want to win the big game badly but to keep disappointment at bay you tell yourself you probably won’t win. How likely are you to succeed? Not very likely because that sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy for failure.

Do you think people like to be around someone who always throws a wet towel on the possibilities? No, so you might end up with very few close friends.

You see someone you’d like to meet but think, “They’d never go for someone like me.” How much nerve will you work up to go talk to that person with that thought process? Probably none.

It may be the case with things that are outside your control that it’s wise to occasionally consider the downside and be realistic about it. However, in general you’ll probably be a much happier and likable person if you choose to look on the bright side. And I’d say you’ll enjoy more opportunities with a positive attitude because there will be many things you never attempt and many more failures with a negative attitude. Teddy Roosevelt said it best when he shared with the world:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I’ll close with this persuasion advice – stay positive my friends.
Brian, CMCT®
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
5 replies
  1. Anthony McLean
    Anthony McLean says:

    Hi Brian, interesting story. A couple of other aspects are worth noting here. By always expecting the worst you have nothing to lose as per your valet; thereby mitigating the impact of Scarcity, i.e. loss. By committing to and accepting poor weather, or in a business sense that nothing ever good happens in your business this can subconsciously trigger a subtle form of commitment and consistency. I work with a couple of coaches who specialize in mindset development and we talk at length about the types of commitments people make and whether they have the capability (real or perceived) to achieve them. Great article and it shows how thought provoking conversation can stem from a trip to the airport! Well done.

  2. Brittany Scott
    Brittany Scott says:

    I believe looking on the bright side will not guarantee that other people will find you enjoyable and likable to be around. You can be optimistic and others can still become exasperated with being around you and find you an energy vampire to be around. And an optimistic person can still have very few close friends or no friends at all. Sometimes it is best to not have friends and be by yourself because some people use this pretty f-word to use you like a leash or volture and alway have their hands out. But when you might need help, they have nothing to contribute or they simply don’t want to. And then there arevtwo-faced friends that act super nice and laugh with you to your face when with you and then backstab you behind your back to other people when you’re not around or act brand new when around certain people. So an optimistic thinker in this type of situation dealing with high school behavior of their “friend” is better off without any friends to reserve their peace of mind and sanity. And a bright-sided thinker can also be a user, manipulator, and a fake person. I personally prefer the company of realistic thinking people who see things as they are based on evidence of only facts of past and present experiences, not what they want things to be based on hopes and dreams. A realistic person acknowledges that reality is not always pretty and that things don’t always work out the way we want 99.9% of the time. After all, a plan B does exist for a reason in case plan A doesn’t work out. I have read some articles online that say that pessimism and cynicism may increases the risk of dementia, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. But what the articles fail to consider is inheriting genetic factors
    from family that may contribute to a person’s risk of developing these conditions. If dementia, heart disease, anxiety, or depression runs in the family, that person may not necessarily be guaranteed to get the conditions but the risk of getting it is high for him or her even if he/she looks on the bright side of things. So yes, an optimistic person can still have high risk of getting dementia, heart disease, anxiety, and depression if either one, a few, or all of these conditions genetically run in his or her family. In this case, thinking positive may not decrease the risk of getting the conditions or have an impact on whether or not you will get them. A demented person can be someone who was always looking on the bright side of life and kept a smile on their face.


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