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Optimist or Pessimist? How about Realist?


Since the start of 2011 and my commitment to Post A Week, I’ve never tried taking a suggested topic from the Daily Post’s Topic Ideas—well, because I haven’t run out of stuff to write about (yet).

This week, though there were lots of other things I wanted to write about, I got a tad tardy (okay, maybe more than just a tad), so I thought, why not take a suggested topic and run with it, see how it goes, and for a little change of pace.

I found last Monday’s suggested topic at the Daily Post to be the most interesting out of all the topics this week:

Topic #32—Are you an optimist, a pessimist, or something else?

To answer the question, I suppose I’m neither. Wait. Scratch that. I think I’m actually both.

I believe there are times when we can (and should) expect the best, and there are also times when we are inclined to expect the worst.

That’s just the way of life. Reality.

In other words, I’m someone you could refer to as a realist.

As a child and during my early adolescent years, I’m absolutely certain I was an optimist. Maybe it had something to do with youthfulness: I was tremendously outgoing and had many friends because of my hyperactivity in social situations, I was assertive, I spoke my mind, and I was always looking forward to what tomorrow might bring—confident bordering on cocky.

As a teenager, the pessimist in me gained the upper hand: the first girl I seriously courted rejected me—she said she preferred men with facial hair, specifically the bigote or mustache (all I had were my eyebrows)—though she did so with great care that we remain friends to this day; in high school, I went from section A as a freshie to section B up until senior year, all while the pimples on my face robbed me of any ground on which to build my confidence upon. It could’ve been the raging hormones or what have you. Either way, I think anybody who went through high school without getting his/her confidence shattered more than a few times is either kidding himself/herself or just plain crazy.

When I got to college, the pessimist and optimist in me broke even. The birth of the realist became imminent.

And thanks to brilliant mentors, amazing friends, formidable opponents, and a ton of memorable experiences, my mind filled up with Reason and became fixated with the Truth. The realist in me became the boss—more like Big Boss.

With the coming of the realist came the realization that individually and essentially, we are all optimists and pessimists combined. There are days we are hopeful, when we expect the best out of other people and ourselves, and then there are also days we are gloomy, when we expect the worst out of other people and ourselves—otherwise known as the ups and downs of life.

At the end of the day, whether we view life in a predominantly positive or negative light, what matters is that we  never cease to see the world for what it really is.


When faced with a choice between optimism and pessimism, we need not choose one or the other—we embrace both perspectives, if only because optimism and pessimism both have merit and can be useful tools in our daily lives. Because, really, the perspectives we subscribe to depend on the people we interact with and the events we face—all we can do is adjust accordingly.

And so, the only thing we should really be concerned about is making sure we don’t stray from reality as often as possible.

We should all be realists—in the truest sense of the word.

But if a choice must be made between the two, then I advocate optimism. And if you’re on the fence, here’s a little something to help you make up your mind:

A Case for Optimism* (Douglas Martini)

Most of you probably have heard some version of this poem:

Twist the optimist and pessimist

The difference is droll:

The optimist sees the doughnut,

The pessimist, the hole.

The longer I live, the more I’m convinced of the truth of that poem. Like the doughnut, life may seem full, rich, and enjoyable, or it can seem as empty as that hole in the middle. To the pessimist, the optimist seems foolish. But I’m here today to tell you it’s the pessimist who’s the foolish one.

Another way of seeing the difference between an optimist is this way: an optimist looks at an oyster and expects a pearl; a pessimist looks at an oyster and expects ptomaine poisoning. Even if the pessimist is right—which is not very often—he probably won’t enjoy himself either before or after he proves it. But the optimist is happy because he always has that expectation of future reward.

Pessimists are easy to recognize. They’re the ones who go around asking “What’s good about it?” when someone says “Good morning.” If they looked around, they undoubtedly could find something good, as did the storekeeper after she was robbed. The day after the robbery she was asked about the loss. “Lose much?” her friend wanted to know. “Some,” she said, “but then it would have been worse if the robbers had got in the night before. You see, I just finished marking everything down 20 percent.”

There’s another story about a happy-go-lucky shoemaker who left the gas heater in his shop turned on overnight, and upon arriving in the morning he struck a match to light it. There was a terrific explosion, and the shoemaker was blown out through the door to the middle of the street. A passerby rushed to help and asked if he were injured. The shoemaker got up slowly, jiggled his arms and legs, looked back at the burning shop, and said, “No, I’m not hurt, but I sure got out just in time, didn’t I?”

Some writers have ridiculed that kind of outlook. The great French writer Voltaire made fun of optimism in Candide. “Optimism,” he said, “is a mania for maintaining that all is well when things are going badly.” A later writer, James Branch Cabell, did a turn on one of Voltaire’s phrases when he quipped: “The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”

A lot of college professors, too, can’t resist the urge to jab a little at optimists. But I, for one, refuse to take them seriously. I like the remark made by literary critic and journalist Keith Preston: “There’s as much bunk among the bunksters as among the boosters.”

Some may like the cynicism of Voltaire or Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau. But optimism is the philosophy I like to hear preached. There was a grandmother who complained about the weather. “But, Melissa,” said her friend, “awful weather is better than no weather at all.” So quit complaining. Change the bad things in the world that you can, to be sure, but then work within the rest. And stop expecting the worst. Be the optimist who cleans his glasses before he eats his grapefruit!

When you’re tempted to grumble about your rotten future, remember the doughnut. And, as Elbert Hubbard advised:

As you travel through life, brother,

Whatever be your goal,

Keep your eye on the doughnut

And not upon the hole.


*Sample speech to entertain, shared to our speech class by our instructor, Ms. Jonnah Valero.

* * * * * * * * *


1. Have time to read? I recommend perusing these two articles:

Why the fuss over symbolic issues? and Keep paying attention

2. This is so cool. We now have our own CNN-type channel. Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

3. Some say we don’t need this, but I say anything that promotes reading is a welcome thing.

4. Hope this succeeds. I can’t even begin to comprehend how Ronald Singson is still a member of congress after pleading guilty to drug trafficking charges.



2. If we can’t do anything to stop this, then we had better brace ourselves—literally.

3. This study may reveal a terrible problem facing today’s youth, but to say that the Internet is making kids dumb is crossing the line.

4. Oh no. Hell no.

5. Nashty snubbed. Boo. And what the hell is up with this—four Celtics as all-star reserves? You’ve got to be kidding me.

* * * * * * * * *


Where do I start? McClean, McFly, McQueen, McGeek, McBankrupt, McMiserable, McRib, McGleek…”

~Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo Jr., coming up with possible surnames for Tim McGee, in case he has to change his name due to identity theft.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. 5.February.2011 9:47 pm

    Hanep. 🙂

    Dati naman, iniisip ko isa kong realist. Tapos biglang naisip ko na yung course namin is more on idealism, kasi nga diplomacy, etc. So, we believe na yung mga state, posibleng magkaroon ng friendly relations sa isa’t isa, and sumunod sa international law.

    Parang nakokontra ng pinapag-aralan ko yung paniniwala ko, which is nag-aagree din naman ako. (I mean sa pinag-aaralan namin) So may conflict na. HAHA.

    Share lang. 😀

    • 6.February.2011 4:06 am

      Hi Fradgee dear! 😀

      Buti nga may conflict e. Ang boring kaya ng buhay pag walang conflict. Tingin ko, realist ka pa din. Pwede ka naman maging idealist/optimist sa isang area tapos consistent realist ka pa din pagdating sa ibang bagay.

      Pero alam mo dear, sa school kasi yan ang status quo: ituro kung ano ang ideal. Kaya nga andaming studyante na tinatamaan ng culture shock after graduation at pagsabak nila sa mundo sa labas ng paaralan. Kaya ayos din talagang maging realist habang maaga. 🙂

      • 6.February.2011 4:45 pm

        Oo nga pala. Nawala sa isip ko na yun pala usually ang tinuturo sa school. Siguro ang aim lang nila talaga gawing positive yung tingin sa buhay ng mga estudyante.

        Anyway, nasa tao pa din siguro yun. Tama ka, mas mabuti nang mamulat sa katotohanan. At tama ka ulit, boring kung walang conflict. :))

  2. 7.February.2011 12:58 pm

    Hindi ko alam kung ano ako.
    Lahat ata? In some situations, parang kelangan asahan ang best, worst at yung katotohanan.

    Pero siguro realist ako. haha! Ewan.

    • 7.February.2011 9:21 pm

      🙂 Ako din, feeling ko I am all of the above. Pero dapat laging mangibabaw yung part natin na nakakakita sa katotohanan. Hangga’t yun ang predominant sa personalities natin, I believe that all is well.

      Oh, and welcome back from your mini-hiatus, dear! Na-miss kita. 😀

  3. cloverxxkorhz permalink
    12.February.2011 6:28 pm

    I’m more of a pessimist (when it comes to myself) and optimist (when it comes to my friends) =) ang labo! HAHA.
    Pero, “positively” Pessimist talaga po ako*

    P.S. Natawa ako sa Skin tight uniform ng NBA =)) Benta lang. Hihi!


    • 13.February.2011 2:32 am

      Lol at the “positively, pessimist talaga po ako” 😆

      Well, di naman siya malabo, dear. Tsaka nabasa ko pati yung post mo about this very topic, as suggested by the peeps at the Daily Post. Tingin ko ayos naman yang ganyang outlook, but don’t you think you’re being too hard on yourself?

      Anyway, onga e, patawa yang skin tight unis na yan. Pag nakakita ako ng kahit isang ganyan sa All-Star Game, baka masuka ako in front of the TV. =))

  4. Judith permalink
    29.September.2012 12:09 am

    Love it ! Great article.


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