Sunday, November 04, 2007

Optimist, Pessimist, or Realist

I've started to notice that pessimists tend to call themselves realists.

This intrigues me since it implies that optimists aren't realistic (yes, I'm an optimist). It also, if you follow the logic, implies that everything that happens is a negative and not a positive. That life will always end up less than satisfactory and any attempt to be happy and content with the outcome of events is simply not being realistic.


Might I suggest that you see what you look for? Pessimists are not realists. They simply see what they are inclined to see and the same can be said for an optimist.

I can understand the need for a pessimist to redefine him or herself since the word is associated with words like defeatist, wet blanket, fatalist, cynic, and killjoy. No one wants to be a killjoy or a wet blanket.

But a word is only what you make of it and the action taken based on what you are is more important than the tendency.

To my mind there are two types of pessimists:

A true blue pessimist: One for whom there is no happiness unless everything goes wrong as predicted. The glass isn't just half empty, it will be completely empty very soon. Those who fall into this category can too easily find themselves indulging in their pessimism. They love to predict that everything will not only go wrong, but horribly wrong. I worked with a man who was like this and he pulled everyone down with him. It was a mental and emotional strain having to be in his presence for hours on end.

An optimistic pessimist: One who sees first what can go wrong but is very happy when it doesn't. The glass is half empty but they would be happy to see it filled up. These guys can be very useful in a organizational sense. They can see where a plan could go wrong, but are willing to look for a solution to keep it from going wrong. I have known a lot of these types since I have family and friends who fit this category.

Well we can't leave out the optimists, can we? These guys usually get all the good press. However, they have their pitfalls, too.

A true blue optimist: One for whom there is no evil or bad in the world. The glass is half full and there is no doubt in their minds that it will very soon be full. While being positive is generally a good thing, not acknowledging that bad things happen and have to be dealt with is definitely unhealthy. Bad things do happen and need to be acknowledged and dealt with. And no one can be around these guys for too long, because too much positive thinking can make the people they come in contact feel inadequate.

A pessimistic optimist: One who sees the good first, but can also see the bad. The glass is half full and that's okay. I fall into this category and it is related very closely to the optimistic pessimist. I can only speak for myself and hope that my personal preferences aren't clouding my judgement too much. I see the positive first, but I'm willing to acknowledge and prepare for the negative. It might happen, so you've got to be ready for it. But, in the end, taken appropriately and with a positive attitude, it will come out okay and I can be happy and content.

No comments:

Post a Comment