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Optimism, pessimism, realism, and stress

November 11 2013 , Written by Wing-Fai Thi

Optimism and stress are quite common character traits among astronomers. Unexpectedly, both are related. Our tendency to be optimistic about our ability to achieve a goal in a given amount of time, which is hard to determine in science, often results in stress. We also often accept work even knowing that we are already overloaded. Yes, many scientists love to feel busy and tend to put stress on themselves.

Is a pessimistic researcher less stressed then? Not sure since he or she will keep thinking that his or her research will lead to nothing and will become stressed as well.

How to avoid stress? Let’s be realistic but this is probably not possible for dreamers like astronomers. I know many colleagues in the first two categories but only a handful in the last category. Is being realistic so difficult in scientific research?

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