The Premise Behind the Gloomy Gus

There’s a type of person who delights in bad news or negativity. What causes this? In most cases, it affirms for the person a sense that life is futile and hopeless. Such people don’t get inspired by the heroic or best in human nature, or by the most optimistic in reality. A particularly interesting variation of such a person is one who claims to be inspired by the heroic and the positive, while actually finding a secret glee in declaring the negative. “You see? There’s no heroism out there. There’s nothing positive. It’s all over.” This is the kind of person whose emotional states are determined solely by what is, with no reference to what might be or ought to be. If you don’t pay attention to what might be or ought to be, then you miss out on the positive exceptions when negative trends are the norm. I once heard a man talk about driving through a slum in Baltimore (a city with some of the worst slums in America). He said that he noticed one house, in the midst of the slums, kept up nicely with a garden, well-maintained and painted exterior. He said it made him sad. My reaction was different: One of hope and inspiration. No matter what a mess human beings make of things, the good and the inspirational always has more power, in the end. Actually, they have more power right now, not just at the end: If you will only let them.