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Life Gets You Down For a Reason: Optimism, Pessimism, and Realism

Updated on April 20, 2015
It's all about maintaining a balance.
It's all about maintaining a balance. | Source

Just so we’re clear, the following are definitions from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary of the above topical words:

An optimist- a person who is hopeful and confident of the future.

A pessimist- a person who has lack of hope and confidence for the future.

A realist- a person who has a sensible and practical of what can be achieved or expected.

My versions of the above are as follows:

An optimist is usually some happy-go-lucky individual who believes that life will sort itself out and that we don’t have to worry about anything. They float on the river of life like a log, and let the current take them wherever. They either have religion, love, or drugs to fall back on.

A pessimist is a person who believes that the world or a situation is as bad as it can possibly get. Old people willingly fall into this category as they are always complaining about something and never see a silver lining in any grey cloud, perhaps because of their near-sightedness. Some pessimists might also have a crutch like drinking, or drugs, as a comfort, that is until they stop working; shame.

A realist just accepts things as they are and deals with it accordingly. They are usually not concerned about the future far away, but more with the here and now, focusing on the more important present. They also have a little saying, ‘today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present’- cute. Either some truly inspirational people or the foolishly brave adopt this way of thinking, as with optimists, they are setting themselves up for a fall.

"Optimists have the worst rollercoaster like moods ever, and I’ve experienced them, since I once had a friend who was an optimist -- he was worse than a PMS Queen."


I myself have an attitude that could be a mixture of all the above, perhaps with a tendency towards pessimism. Here is my explanation of the workings inside my head. Don’t worry, it’ll be good in the end, you’ll see.

I go by a phrase: “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

If you are an optimist, and are always smiling, always cheerful, always looking for the best in things, you are setting yourself up for a major fall. Eventually the day will come when you can’t do it anymore. Optimists have the worst rollercoaster like moods ever, and I’ve experienced them, since I’ve had a friend who was worse than a PMS Queen. He would keep smiling; saying, "oh well", and carrying on, trying to keep that high going, and you know what? More and more bad things kept happening to make him absolutely miserable until he just gave in and went on a very steep low, right in to the depths of depression.

My belief is that you have to keep a balance.

Have you ever seen the movie Final Destination? In that series of mediocre movies they talk about death’s design, and when they tried to avoid it and run away, it only followed until they were all dead. In the same way, if you try to keep that high going, things keep happening to take you off of that high. It’s absolutely true in my opinion, because I’ve experienced lots of good things happening all at once, and I start to get paranoid, wondering what will happen- when will the fall come?

It’s called Murphy’s Law or if you’re British, Sod’s Law. If anything bad can happen, it will.

I try to keep this balance by not sailing too high, by not keeping my hopes up, not expecting too much, and by being realistic. I know from experience that if you break one of these rules, you will pay, because life has a way of ensuring that nobody is on top for too long. And if you are down in the dumps, and suddenly things get better, that’s either a coincidence or things couldn’t get much worse and so they went up instead of down. Life is more generous with dealing out pain than pleasure, so beware; remember the rules.

In the boat of life, when the winds and waves become bad, the optimist hopes that the weather will change, the pessimist gives up and complains, and the realist adjusts the sails, (and the nihilist jumps overboard!).

"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised."

— George F. Will

Which are you?

See results

© 2009 Anti-Valentine


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    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 2 years ago from Chicago Region

      Great topic. I used to see myself as an optimist as a kid but now I lean much farther towards the realist camp!

    • profile image

      miam777 5 years ago

      A very good article and very truthful. Ireally enjoyed it as I had athe sme thoughts as the writter. Great article.

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 8 years ago

      very nice article. I am more pessimist how to get opti

    • Anti-Valentine profile image

      Anti-Valentine 8 years ago from My lair


      I tend to swing between being a realist and a pessimist. Doom doesn't have to knock on my door or ring the bell; I all ready know he's coming, and I'm waiting. :)

    • Eaglekiwi profile image

      Eaglekiwi 8 years ago from -Oceania

      Interesting and food for thought. I tend to swing between an optimist and realist.. I prefer hope to doom ,but if does doom knocks ,I send faith to answer the door (sickening I know) but hey Im a sensitive soul good hub ,I enjoyed it.