How to become a pessimist in 3 easy steps.

Elena Tucker
5 min readOct 25, 2022
Photo by Joseph Greve on Unsplash

Most Americans are, by their very nature, optimists. This pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in the United States Constitution — well, sort of — don’t look it up, it’s in there.

This bright, sunny outlook is easier to come by in the land of plenty — the land of the Golden Arches and golden promises of “work hard, play hard,” the land where recipes of red velvet cake and the best yoga poses for stamina and better balance follow the news of earthquakes and war.

“There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re not broken. But in case you are, or just feel as if you are, here are five morning routines, three evening question, and seven styles of afternoon naps you can do to fix yourself,” proclaim news story after news story. “If this doesn’t do the trick, you can fix yourself 55 classic cocktails to make you the talk of the town or fix yourself the top 10 non-alcoholic coffee beverages that will help you live till 100 and improve your cognitive abilities, your sleep and your parenting style (because you’ve been doing it all wrong …. well, … since forever),” “Oh oh oh, and by the way, … you’ve been breathing wrong since you’ve been born, but we can fix that, as well.”

I, too, have fallen into this trap of ridiculous optimism and can-do stick-to-it-iveness. I, too, have been trying to look at the bright side of life living in this great country — the land of opportunity — for so long that I forget, occasionally, that this sort of mindset is completely unnatural. At least it is for me. I came from a country where there were posters on the wall reminding the general population to “Please smile” and “Please be polite,” and that was normal. It may be true that study after study finds that optimists do live longer, but I have to confess: I am so tired by optimism. I am exhausted trying to see the silver lining in every cloud.

Why? For one thing, I am in constant pain. It is a struggle to get dressed every day without ending up in tears. To go on and be blissful and joyful for the rest of the day is absurd. Since I honestly do not give any fucks at all what strangers think about me, I have decided to act as the animal I am in the natural environment for me. If, like me, you are tired of the mental gymnastics it takes to be an optimist, follow along for an easy three-way plan to stop pretending…

Elena Tucker

Writer and storyteller, immigrant, wife, mom, knitter, collector of jokes, lover of cheap, sweet wine.