“There’s a Crack in Everything”

Perhaps Eeyore was right. According to the philosopher Alain de Botton – writing in the Q2 2017 issue of Influence (the quarterly magazine of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations) –pessimism can be “one of the kindest and most generous of philosophies.” Citing the Canadian poet and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen as one of the great exemplars of positive pessimism, de Botton writes:

“The greatest part of our suffering, at work and elsewhere, is brought about by our hopes (for health, happiness and success). Therefore, the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to recognise that our griefs are not incidental and passing, but a fundamental aspect of existence that will only get worse. This might sound depressing, but it is in fact an incredibly liberating realisation. If a crucial presentation goes very badly (we drop our papers everywhere, muddle up some key statistics and call a client by the wrong name), it is very reassuring to realise that disasters such as these are entirely unexceptional. Conflict with our colleagues, embarrassment before our superiors and unexpected roadblocks to a dearly sought promotion are very much routine in life. In the workplace, we would all feel happier if mediocrity and relative failure were assumed to be the norm.”

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