Optimistic

OI consider myself a realist. Don’t we all? I recall a comment someone made to me a number of years ago. She considered herself to be a spiritually positive person. She read and followed all the right spiritual gurus, in her option. As we were talking, I used the word reality. She told me that was negative. Really? I haven’t quite figured out why I saw conflict between her negative view of reality; and her positive, optimistic thinking, but she didn’t see an inconsistency at all. I didn’t understand then and don’t now. In fact, if she considers herself to be a positive person, but sees reality as negative, I must conclude that she’s not only a pessimist, but she is in denial about it. She may have been Pollyannaish. Believing in a positive outcome and things will work out for the best in the end is fine. But even being absurdly optimistic is not the same as seeing reality as negative.

According to Bill Bryson, the terms optimistic and pessimistic “should be used to describe a general outlook rather than a specific view….” Some people have changed the ending of old tales to “and they lived happily ever after.” Is that more optimistic or positive than “…happily for their remaining years.”? Both are positive outcomes. One has a realistic limit, but it is still good. Having positive thoughts is good and often leads to improved results, but better words (still leaning on Bryson) might be hopeful or confident. They’re optimistic, but fit better with the specific situation and the level of consequence for most daily encounters.

optimism-quoteI like to think of myself as a realistic-optimist. (If a presidential candidate can be a democratic-socialist, then there is precedent for my claim.) But I have interesting discussions with people who would say that I am negative or pessimistic because I foresee less than desirable outcomes if reality is not respected. Most of us seem to have good days and bad. Assuming that they will all be good henceforth is denial of reality. We will continue to have natural and man-made disasters. That is reality. Making preparations for emergencies so that we can have the best possible outcome is optimism. Doing nothing is denial that often leads to further disaster.

opportunistI believe that a balanced outlook is the key to a healthy life and a healthy world. We need not assume the worst, but blocking out, or ignoring, the inevitable is not being optimistic. It is being foolish.

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10 thoughts on “Optimistic

  1. Usually I “try” to be optimist, I do try…in spite of so many diiffculties and problems I’ve had to cross in my life and still going on. I think that’s the difference with realistic, since sometimes I’ve had to leave problems behind as I was sure it was impossible to solve.
    About war in Syria and other places, unfortunately I’m totally pessimst.
    Good writing.

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  2. I strive to have no expectations. I fail miserably at it but that’s where I want to be. I tell myself to take it as it comes. But then the other side of my brain says fortune favors the prepared. If I always take it as it comes, what if I’m not prepared when it gets here. So then I run around getting prepared for every eventuality….Laughing. Then I wear myself out and start factoring when possibilities are the most likely and prepare for those. LOL. Yes I am going in circles. It happens.

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    • You’re a good scout to be prepared. Just because I secure items to walls does not mean that I expect an earth quake. It means that damn bookcase will not fall on me if the earth shakes. Planning for a good outcome seems optimistic to me.

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  3. I wouldn’t know where to place myself. I try to maintain a positive outlook in general, and I plan for the future as best I can, yet I frequently suffer from depression. I don’t believe that is pessimism, as depression is really (for me) an absence of desire or drive, and a sadness within, but not focused on any expectations of the world at all.

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    • If we suffer from a medical condition, but try for a positive outlook, we are optimistic, in my realistic opinion. Thanks for the comment, Red. I always like to hear from you.

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  4. They say hope heals but focusing on the straight and narrow facts doesn’t allow for hope sometimes. (Believing in God, and the miracles He can bring- or in Heaven are both the best in optimism- they actually come true, says me!) The trouble with reality is that it floats like a bridge on a tidal wave. It can wash you away if you dwell on it.

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