Practical Pessimism

In this video Tim Ferris explain his concept of “Practical Pessimism”. He covers this idea in his book “The 4-hour Work Week“, but this is great introduction.

It is interesting to note that Ferriss is of Danish extraction, and the concept of “Practical Pessimism” is apparently the key to why the Danes are apparently the happiest people in the world.

This is from the recent brilliant article in The Atlantic on the famous Grant Study, “What Makes Us Happy?” by Joshua Wolfshenk

For 30 years, Denmark has topped international happiness surveys. But Danes are hardly a sanguine bunch. Ask an American how it’s going, and you will usually hear “Really good.” Ask a Dane, and you will hear “Det kunne være værre (It could be worse).” “Danes have consistently low (and indubitably realistic) expectations for the year to come,” a team of Danish scholars concluded. “Year after year they are pleasantly surprised to find that not everything is getting more rotten in the state of Denmark.”

It seems that the whole positive thinking junket is under fire these days, with a new article in the Economist (“Positive thinking’s negative results“) showing that “for some people, optimistic thoughts can do more harm than good”.

Anyway, here is the video:

YouTube – Tim Ferriss – Google IO Ignite – Practical Pessimism

See also:

The Consolations of Pessimism by Alan De Botton

John Gruber & Merlin Mann on Blogging

Wonderful podcast from Merlin Mann and John Gruber on Blogging.

Merlin man is hilarious. I love his quoting Ira Glass (of this American Life fame) on the folly of trying to emulate the success of others1. This can he heard around Around 23:38:

“People of out there and they are always trying to emulate the success of other people. You get on TV and you try to pretend you are Ted Koppel. But you know what? They’ve already got a Ted Koppel, they don’t need you. Your competition is somebody who had a unique opportunity a long time ago and now you are going to try and trace the shadow of that on a side-walk and hope its a career. We’ve got our Koppel, now who are YOU?

Do yourself a favour and listen to the rest of it, its superb.

43f Podcast: John Gruber & Merlin Mann’s Blogging Panel at SxSW | 43 Folders.

  1. After Nassim Nicholas Taleb,  Malcolm Gladwell and others have finished with this topic, no one will ever admit to copying a success story or having a role model ever again!