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Using positive pessimism to move past adversity

Hey all,

I started reading a book called The Adversity Advantage last month and so far this book is pretty good. The book is written by Dr. Paul G. Stoltz, who's life's work consists of decoding and strengthening the human relationship with adversity and Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind person to climb the highest peak on the seven continents of the world.

Dr. Stoltz uses the term Adversity Quotient (AQ) frequently throughout the book, which is a measure of how you respond to adversity of all kinds, or how you react to the world around you.

"When you are faced with adversity-the rejection letter arrived, your partner is stressing you out, your job was eliminated, your MRI results were not good-these are the times when you need your Adveristy Quotient to be functioning at its best."

Erik lays out a couple of techniques in his book on how to raise your AQ, one of which is:

Positive Pessimism

"Erik's friend and climbing partner, Chris Morris, is known for a little trick he uses to deal with hardship. He calls it "positive pessimism". We'll be sitting out in a raging storm. We've gone a month without showers. The wind is driving snow directly into our faces, and I'm wondering what insanity led me to this nightmare in the first place. That's when Chris will look up with a big cheesy smile on his face and say, "Sure is cold out here...but at least it's windy." Another time, we had been moving through the cold for ten hours, and we were all wasted. Chris turned to our team and said, "Boys, we sure have been climbing a long way...but at least we're lost." In the Khumbu Icefall, as Chris was halfway across his first ladder over a giant crevasse, he came out with the classic: "This ladder may be rickety...but at least it's swingin' in the breeze."

Positive pessimism is a humorous way to take the edge off your current problems and I honestly couldn't help but laugh when I read this little bit. Surprisingly, this humor is also one of the ways Special Ops and Navy SEALS practice fearlessness:

Personally, I'm excited to find fun ways to use positive pessimism to have a good laugh while I continue quarantining strategically.


Ali Scarlett

P.S. Fun fact, the foreword of this book was written by Stephen R. Covey, author of 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.