Is Optimism Really Ever Foolish?

Before I start, let me take a moment to congratulate our very own Wen on her Emmy nomination!!! She’s an insanely talented hair and makeup artist, and I know we’ll all be pulling for her in blog land.

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I’m a fairly pessimistic person. I’m not necessarily proud of that fact, but it’s true. I generally expect that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. I’m not usually disappointed, because let’s face it… Murphy was right.

Because I’m a pessimist, I always make contingency plans. I never go into a situation without having some sort of backup plan. You could call it OCD, but mostly it’s pessimism. I expect things to go wrong, and I secretly harbor the superstition that if I’m prepared for any contingency… nothing will actually go wrong.

I know, I know. Stupid.

I’m married to an eternal optimist. I also have some good friends who are the same way.

Optimists get disappointed ALL the time because they always expect the best. They are genuinely surprised when things don’t go right. It used to annoy me to see optimists foolishly expecting everything to be great. But then I started to realize that these people were also happy most of the time.

Hmmm.

There’s really no such thing as a “realistic optimist,” because if you live on planet Earth, the only “realistic” way to be is pessimistic. Being a realist IS being a pessimist.

But pessimists are unhappy most of the time. They spend a lot of time expecting things to go badly. Often, things DO go badly, so we pessimists get our beliefs confirmed.

Why is it that when optimists get their hopes dashed, they are still optimists?

I think it’s because they choose to look at the bright side of life. They see a half full glass. I don’t think that’s foolish at all.

  1 comment for “Is Optimism Really Ever Foolish?

  1. livieloo
    July 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

    I’ve always considered myself an optomistic realist but maybe I’m just a happy pessimist… or maybe because I have this thing about preparing for the worst I relax a bit more… or maybe I’m not as relaxed and happy as I think I am…haha, now I don’t know what to think of myself.

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