By Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC
There is little difference in people, but that difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude.
The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.
We might describe ourselves as an optimist, a pessimist, or somewhere in-between. But regardless who is right or wrong about a matter, it is the optimist that always tends to be the one who is more hopeful and happy. Join me as we experience a typical day in the life of an optimist and a pessimist. The following story is about perspective & how the same situation can be experienced so differently:
Early Saturday morning the optimist awakens with anticipation and gratitude for the new day. He looks forward to getting together with his friend for a stroll in the park. The pessimist awakens to another day expecting more of the same—the same problems, frustrations, and negativity. When they greet each other at the park, the optimist comments on what a beautiful, sunny day it is. The pessimist says, “You never know how long it will last. It could get cloudy and rain as far as we know.”
Along their way, the Optimist notices a group of teenagers playing ball and blaring a radio near by them. The Optimist says, “It’s so nice to see young people having so much fun together—playing sports and getting exercise.” “You can’t be serious,” retorts the Pessimist.
“Teens are troublemakers. Listen to that horrible music. They’re all angry and rebellious. And, on top of that, they get so aggressive in sports, I’m surprised there are not more injuries.”
Next, they walk to the bridge and see a sign stating that the
bridge is temporarily closed due to construction. The Optimist
suggests, “Let’s go around another way. It’ll be just as nice
and we can enjoy the scenery along the other side of the park.
The Pessimist angrily replies, “Taxpayer dollars are being wasted
again. The bridge was just fine. Now we have to take the long
way around because of their incompetence.”
On the other side of the Park, the Optimist notices a couple playfully hugging and kissing. “That is so beautiful! It looks like they’re in love.” “Yeah, right,” exclaims the Pessimist. “They’re just putting on a show.
If they want to be all affectionate and loving, they shouldn’t be in a public place.”
The stroll in the park continued along in the same predictable manner. And later that evening, when both the Optimist and Pessimist were asked by friends how their day went, The Optimist shared, “It was a great day. The park was filled with people having fun, and there was so much to see and enjoy.” The Pessimist described his day saying, “There is nothing good about this town. Annoying people are everywhere. The bridge was even down, and there really wasn’t much to like about it.”
Wow, What a difference in perspective! Is there any wonder why the Pessimist remains negative and oftentimes is unhappy? First, he doesn’t expect the nice weather to last. He is actually expressing the attitude that some people have—that nothing good ever lasts for very long, so don’t expect it and you won’t be disappointed. Then, he generalizes that all teens are angry and rebellious. When the bridge is closed, instead of making the best of the situation, he complains and blames others. And later, he gets annoyed by displays of love and affection.
The Optimist, on the other hand, focuses on the good things—and spends his day appreciating and enjoying it. When obstacles arise, he copes in a healthy manner and doesn’t let it ruin his day or attitude.
Now, who would you rather be around? Or, I should ask, what perspective would you rather have? Most of us would like to be more like the Optimist. The Optimist has inner joy and peace. The Optimist is loving towards others. And, the Optimist has inner strength to cope with life’s challenges.
I’d like to encourage you that with practice, we can ALL become more optimistic in our outlook.
Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.