Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Optimist, Pessimist, or Realist?

Are you one of those people that sees the cup half full or do you see it as half empty?  I love to ask people this question and watch as they think about it (or don't) before they answer.  It's also interesting to watch their family and friends while they're answering.  It always amuses me to see the disbelief and sometimes shock on their faces as their friend or family member swears that, of course, they are 'half full' people.  Sometimes they remain silent and accept the answer.  Other times they jump in and correct the person with their view on the subject.

Most people see themselves as 'half full' people.  It's easy to understand why.  We all want to be positive.  We want to see the good in life and in people, but it's not easy.  Day after day life smacks us around and it becomes more and more difficult to find the good and not to focus on the bad.  There is someone close to me who claims that she's not pessimistic, she is realistic.  In almost every situation, she will point out the negative aspects.  Very few times have I ever heard her point out the good in anything. 

 A pessimist is a person who habitually sees or anticipates the worst or is disposed to be gloomy. We all know people who live life this way.  No matter what the situation the absolute worst will happen to them.  So then, what is a realist?  A realist then is a person who tends to view or represent things as they really are.  Hmmm...sees things as they really are.  That's pretty subjective, isn't it?  We all see things through our own paradigm or viewfinder.  Based on our life's experiences we each see things through our unique filter.  So what may be 'real' to me, may not be 'real' to you.  I just know that when most anything happens to this person, she will embrace the worst case scenario.  Very few times is she disappointed. 

Well, then, what is an optimist?  An optimist is a person who has the  tendency to expect the best and see the best in all things.  Is it possible to be an optimist all the time?  I suspect that you would find very few people who could  be positive 100% of the time.  We each have situations or circumstances that cause us to, at least temporarily, see things as less than good.  Such is life.  I'd like to think that I'm an optimistic person and I have verified that with some of my friends and family.  I'd also like to think that I'm that way because I have faith, in God, in myself, in life in general.  That makes it much easier to be optimistic, even when there is very little to be positive about.  It gives me an 'anchor' to hold on to when I find myself siding into pessimism.  Of course, there are still those times when I allow myself to hold a personal "pitty party," but I set a time limit on those parties and never allow myself to 'live' there very long. 

There is an attraction to living in the world of pessimism.  Sometimes people feel sorry for you.  It can get you attention that you might not otherwise have.  We all know that people like attention.  This is easy to observe in children.  Children will force you to pay attention to them.  If they can get it in good ways, doing good things, then they will.  But if they can't get your attention in positive ways, they will get them in negative ways.  As long as it gets you to look at them and pay attention, they don't care how it happens.  Adults can be the same way, so we have to be careful about allowing ourselves to live in the land of pessimism.  Remember, what you focus on you get more of.  It really is a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

As for me, I will continue to choose to find the positive in life.  After all, this is the one and only life I'm going to have.  I choose to find the good in each day and thank God for it.  I'll admit, sometimes I have to look hard, but it's always there.  Maybe I just don't recognize it as positive when it happens, but it's there.  You know, I find that once I find a 'good' then it becomes easier to find another and then another. 

What will you choose this day?  I hope you find all wonderful things.  I hope that life blesses you and yours!  I hope that you find joy in this day!  It's your choice, after all.

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