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Optimist if I can be, pessimist if I have to be but realist above all else

Updated on August 7, 2015

I got challenged once to write an article as an answer to the question whether or not I could be negative. I accepted the challenge, which turned out to be a feast begging for my slightly philosophical brain to be devoured. After all, optimism is linked to both pessimism and realism.

Optimist if I can be…
I’m an optimist by nature. I’m convinced that as long as you really want something, if can often be achieved. Hardly ever will people be able to accuse me of deeming something to be absolutely impossible. When it comes to that, I’m all about the saying “cannot is dead and does not want to is buried next to him”. Of course it happens that I don’t have any guarantees that I will accomplish a certain goal which I have set for myself, but who never tries, will never be sure if something wasn’t possible indeed. To me, it’s important that I can always tell myself that I tried at least. And let’s face it: wouldn’t you pull your hair out knowing you could have accomplished something great if only you would have grabbed an opportunity with both hands? I want to prevent such scenarios as much as possible. For that reason, I hardly ever turn challenges down and the verb ‘to give up’ cannot be found in my dictionary. Furthermore, it takes a while before I lose my optimism about something because – to say it this way – I try to hold on to the positive things in life in times of hell and damnation, even though they may look small and insignificant compared to the negativity.

Pessimist if I have to be…
However, even for me it’s possible that the weather takes a turn for the worse. Whenever I notice things that have been around for a while and are just not right or keep going wrong from my point of view, my optimism transforms into a foul, ink black concoction of skepticism, sarcasm and even cynicism in the same fanatical way in which I can be optimistic. Particularly when it comes to world politics, there is no denying that pessimism characterizes most of my viewpoints. Worldwide, politicians have established a society of their own within their nations which only serves one purpose: to serve themselves. I feel my pessimism here is nothing more than justified.


But realist above all else
For me, optimism and pessimism have to lead to realism in the end. Therefore, despite me being an optimist if I can be and a pessimist if I have to be, I deem myself to be a realist above all else. As a consequence, I will always try to base my opinions and viewpoints on facts as much as possible rather than on half-truths, assumptions and speculation. The purpose of this pursuit is to prevent myself from making statements based on nothing but hot air. I’m no fan of naivety but neither of exaggerated amounts of pessimism. Whenever I’m really sure something is absolutely not possible, I will acknowledge this and deal with it accordingly. As such, I would never even try to put the pointless mud fights between politicians to an end. They can’t do without after all (that’s what I mean, here comes my cynicism!). On the other hand, I don’t use pessimism to endlessly complain about the tiniest problems. Some people have made this an Olympic Sport and I refuse to take part in that. Furthermore, I don’t feel that has anything to do with just complaining anymore. Quibbling would be the right word to use here. I’m still not over the one old lady I ran into a few years ago, who was quibbling about the amount of effort she had to put forth in order to keep the button pushed of the wheelchair elevator in a senior residence, while the place where she lived was luxurious enough to even provide her with a convenience like that. I wondered: didn’t she realize how fortunate she was compared to many other ladies her age in other countries?

I like to be optimistic and I don’t shun pessimism if I deem it necessary to do so, but never at the cost of reality. At the same time, I’m convinced that reality can be influenced to a significant degree. In other words: if there is something you don’t like or wish to change, don’t just sit there but do something about it. Do not let yourself be held back by your own negativity, since doing so would only be detrimental to yourself in the end. I watch it happening way too often: people not realizing how much more they can do than they believe. That’s a big, big shame. By having such a mentality, they repeatedly deny themselves a lot of happiness.

So taken everything in consideration, can I be pessimistic? Yes, but not before I run out of reasons to be optimistic about reality.

“The greatest things possible can be achieved by believing in the impossible.”

- Victor Brenntice -

Like to read more philosophical articles from my hand? See also:
Human nature: does it stand in the way of mankind’s development?
Is balance important in life and why or why not?
Mankind’s insatiable thirst for knowledge


© 2015 Victor Brenntice


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    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Very well said, Victor. I totally concur and operate under your philosophy of living. Excellent Hub. Loved it.

    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 

      3 years ago from Chicago Region

      Great topic! One of my favorite quotes by William Arthur Ward is, "The pessimist complaints about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realistic adjusts the sails. "

      Both pessimism and mindless optimism are counterproductive!


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