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It’s going to be great!

Eleanor Tucker grew up believing that if something could go wrong, it would. Then she realised there wasn’t a storm on every horizon, and began to live differently

psychology

The man at the supermarket checkout asks, ‘Do you need another bag?’ Unwilling to fork out an extra 5p in return for more plastic, I shake my head and overload the one bag I have, squeezing in a carton of milk. Ten paces up the road and the bag splits, my shopping falling unceremoniously onto the pavement. ‘Typical,’ says a voice in my head.

Gathering up bananas and washing-up liquid, I pause and ask myself: ‘Is it really typical? Do bags typically break; does shopping typically end up on the pavement? Why did you say that?’ The answer comes easily: this narrative, the one that says the worst outcome is the one to expect, is what I grew up with. ‘Isn’t it always the way?’; ‘That’s Murphy’s Law’; ‘Expect the worst, and you won’t be disappointed!’ You get the pessimistic picture. The thing is, I don’t like this Murphy chap. Not only do I reject the idea that life is conspiring against me, I don’t think the belief that it does serves me particularly well.

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