Optimism Vs. Pessimism
Some people see the glass as half empty. Others see it as half full. But is it really as simple as that? Is it possible to be a bit of both? What are the advantages and disadvantages to both? Maybe there is more to both mind-sets.
When you think about it, most people tend to be an optimist sometimes and a pessimist other times. Ironically, a lot of times things turn out how the people tend to feel about them. If a person feels like something will go well or feels optimistic about it, it usually seems to go well. The same is true of the reverse. When someone feels like something will go badly, it tends to do just that.
So why is this?
Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right!” Does this mean that what we think about, whether positive or negative, tends to happen? The only answer that I can really give to that is yes, but very basically. We cannot simply think things into existence, no matter how optimistic we are, if that is all we do. And when it comes down to it, that’s not really optimism, but delusion.
But then is there any real difference between pessimism and optimism if, when it comes down to it, the results aren’t any different? The short answer is yes, with an added but.
Pessimism will tend to lead to bad outcomes, whether it is because you just think things will turn out poorly and thus do not take any action, or because the pessimism will color your actions and choices and as a result you tend to do things that will make the result what you expected, the bad outcome.
Now where the but comes in with optimism is that the mere act of thinking either optimistically or pessimistically will for the most part produce not much difference in outcome, with perhaps a slight edge to the optimist. However, when you add positive, productive action to that optimism, this is when truly amazing things can happen. You can be as optimistic as you want that you will find a way to get the money for that new car or new house, but unless you are including the productive action that helps to push things to that end, you will never get there. The difference between only thinking optimistically and thinking optimistically while acting in a productive manner is kind of like saying to an empty fireplace “Give me warmth and then I will put some wood in you”.
I once knew a woman who always said, “I would rather expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised on the rare occasion when good happens than be disappointed all the time”. This pessimistic attitude of hers has brought her nothing but misery and strife, and yet she still thinks it has nothing to do with her. She does not realize that her pessimism is coloring her entire life and making the bad things she expects to happen actually happen. My response to her was always, “I would much prefer to expect the best and enjoy what life gives me than to constantly worry about how bad things are.” For a long time, we had the same results. Then I realized that I needed to do my part and put positive, productive action behind my thoughts. And while I am not where I want to be yet, I have moved much closer to it and have been much happier along the way.
So I would say to you: be optimistic! Expect the best out of life! Expecting the best out of life is better than being miserably pessimistic. Above all though my optimistic friend, don’t forget to do your part to not just think but also act optimistically.