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Berserker's avatar

Are you a pessimist? What does that mean to you?

Asked by Berserker (33485points) February 14th, 2010

I always figured that being too optimistic and denying or ignoring everything one doesn’t like or is frightened by was never any good, (IE shitting sunshine.) so I’ve come to look at pessimism as realism. On the other hand, seeing everything in black and failing to notice the good things is just as bad.
Unfortunately, my first impulse with everything I see or experience is to notice whatever’s no good about it, and I probably miss out on lotsa good things, which means I’ll probably die as a miserable old cat lady who scares all the little kids and-wait see I’m doing it right now.
I’m a lot more positive than people think actually, but I’m starting to wonder if finding good things is worth it when you only concentrate or what sucks. I mean, isn’t that living a drab and bunk life? If I feel that all I do is cut up and analize things, then I’m really not experiencing anything because the experience of anything is supposed to shape you, rather than you shape what you perceive. Or something?

How does any degree of either too much pessimism or optimism to the point that it blinds you occur? Are you responsible for it yourself, or are there some conditioned factors to consider? How to remedy the matter and find a decent, realistic balance?

“Reads the above.” Wow this makes absolutely no sense. It needs dissection.

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45 Answers

The_Idler's avatar

Yes I am, and it means I’m never disappointed.

susanc's avatar

What you wrote TOTALLY makes sense. I think you’ve got it figured out – we must be able to make both kinds of judgment, plus take a not-that-important stance, “meh”, because sometimes a thing just doesn’t matter.

This is the kind of writing I love best – someone figuring something out while they write about it. It just makes me smile. Lurve!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

People call me pessimistic pretty much all the time. I, like you, think of myself as a realist. A lot of shit sucks, period. It’s a fact. If people call me pessimistic because I adhere to reality, well… Oh well, I guess. I’m not negative all the time, though. I enjoy certain things, I notice the beauty in life. I laugh, I love. How is that pessimistic? Just because I happen to believe that there is more negative than positive in the world?

I don’t believe that analyzing things is what makes someone pessimistic. As a matter of fact, I believe that analyzing things can enable one to see how truly great certain things are – the same way that analyzing things is what enables ones to see how truly shitty certain things are. Like you said, life isn’t black and white. It’s not all sunshine and flowers, just as it isn’t all stormy and dark.

I have no idea how any of it occurs. I think some of it we create ourselves, I think some of it is created by our environment and experiences. And the truth of the matter is… Does it matter if someone labels you a pessimist or optimist? Not truly – as long as you are comfortable with whatever you want to call yourself.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think that the more informed one becomes about how the world works and what injustices are out there, the more likely one is to be a pessimist – I’d say I’m a realist as well with some pessimistic tendencies.

hug_of_war's avatar

My boyfriend certainly thinks so. I don’t think I’m a pessimist per se, but if experience has taught me one thing I’m not going to act like I think this time will go okay. I like to say optimists think everything is puppies and rainbows. I think some optimists have trouble dealing with the fact sometimes the glass really is half-empty.

HungryGuy's avatar

I’d say I’m neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I generally expect an outcome to things to come out somewhere between the best possible outcome and the worst. And, yes, where along that scale depends on how much control I have over the outcome, or how much trust I have in the people who have the most influence.

AstroChuck's avatar

I not so much a pessimist as I am a pest. Actually I think of myself as a realist.

The_Idler's avatar

cynicism =/= pessimism.

It’s silly to expect bad luck all the time, but you can always rely on human greed and short-sightedness.

Berserker's avatar

@DrasticDreamer Nice answer. It makes me wonder indeed, all those people who call us pessimists or Negative Nancies because we may look at things on a more realistic level, aren’t they as bad as us really, for just noticing how bad we are? So it’s like if I fail to see certain things, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Since as has been agreed, not everything is black and white, and stuff does suck whether people like it or not.

I mean not tryna get all philosophy and wiseass but I don’t care how much or how little is in the glass, what matters is what the fuck is in it. :/

@susanc Yeah some things seem to stumble into order as I was writing and I’m kinda surprised really, I just wonder what I’m now supposed to do with alla dat.

susanc's avatar

@Symbeline Now you see, you’re doing it again. So cool. I love what you write. You make perfect sense to me and you make me laugh while you do it. hug hug hug hug

DominicX's avatar

No, I am not a pessimist and there are many things that people do not understand about the notion of optimism.

Optimism isn’t about denying bad things. Optimism isn’t about pretending everything is good when it is not. Optimism is about seeing the positive side of things and not dwelling on the negative. While a pessimist might say “things are bad and there’s nothing we can do”, an optimist would say “things are bad and there is something we can do”, NOT “things are happy and let’s go dance with rainbows!”.

“The pessimist sees difficulties in every opportunity; the optimist sees opportunities in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

I don’t necessarily think I adhere to one of the “sides” (it certainly should not be viewed as optimism versus pessimism), but I think I do lean more toward the optimistic side. And why not? It has gotten me this far. I do not like to dwell on the negative. I don’t like to sit around and mope. I like to do things. Obviously previous patterns are going to make me more optimistic about certain and more pessimistic about other things.

LeotCol's avatar

Ugh…knowing me I probably am a pessimist…

lynfromnm's avatar

I think of myself as a realist. I don’t believe in luck or prayer, so that leaves me with the facts, what I can deduce from them and what I can create from them. I try to be as open to new information as possible, and I try not to hang onto judgments that are looking questionable. I look forward to each day and I welcome new experiences.

I think that how we look at failure is a great indicator – pessimists look at failure as an ending, optimists look at failure as a new begining and realists look at failure as a natural consequence of living life.

Cruiser's avatar

I am an optimist and like to think there is something good in everything I encounter…did I mention I love lemonade!! ;)

marinelife's avatar

I am an optimist.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I am an optimistic person—it keeps me from pummeling people—

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

However realistic pessimism may be, it seems to me that those few positive steps that are made in any historical period were made by people energized and driven by those delusional enough to belief that changes can be achieved to solve real problems and to improve the quality of life for some people who suffer from disease, poverty, war or injustice.

Pessimism typically becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy as well but with little benefit to humankind.

Berserker's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence I always figured that technology and social advancement were either motivation or after effects of war and man’s will to grind his fellow man in the back. If it’s true it’s sad, but I suppose what comes of it is what shapes everything to begin with?
I mean otherwise disease and poverty would no longer exist if the hopes of many were feasible. Wtf am I saying XD

@DominicX Haha no I totally realize that, and what both, in their proper definitions, are.
Therein lies the problem in fact, because what people see as optimism generally doesn’t seem to be it, which has made me a pessimist. I often wonder if it even exists, but I most certainly don’t wanna define and shape myself in the shadows of other people’s…somethings or others.
Or maybe not. It’s what I’m wondering. There is a middle ground, and I seek it, but I need to recognize what keeps me away from it to get there. Or some such.

@Cruiser Word.

drhat77's avatar

I am an optimist but despite that I’m gonna die. It may be a car accident. It may be colon cancer. But it is unavoidable.

I can fill the interval between now and death with misery, worry, and dread, or…

I can remember that I live n pretty decent times, in a pretty decent country, where I am free to live my dreams (and so I am doing).

Is it a decent time and place for everyone? Hardly. Not even in the US. But I am doing what I can to change it. I’m just one man… Will I make a dent? Not likely. But certainly nothing will improve unless I apply myself.

Long story short optimism and realism are not mutually exclusive.

onesecondregrets's avatar

I like to think of myself as an optimistic realist. I used to be a pessimistic realist. I try to keep grips on reality- when you get too optimistic you lose that, while not waivering into pessimism. We live in reality, we’ve seen that things are possible in reality, therefore pessimism is a waste, a waste of our minds, and of our lives on earth. It takes a strong mind to stay optimistic through life’s bullshit. I never was optimistic, ironically, till my dad passed. I could go on forever about this subject.

davidbetterman's avatar

Pessimist = the glass is half empty

Optimist = The glass is half full

Realist = the glass is simply half.

Berserker's avatar

@davidbetterman What if the glass is cracked?

davidbetterman's avatar

That makes the person insane!

partyparty's avatar

I TRY to be optimistic and nine times out of ten it works.

On the odd occasion I am feeling pessimistic I think of all the reasons why I should feel optimistic and just pull myself together.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’m an optimist. I think of setbacks as temporary, not permanent.

thriftymaid's avatar

No. I always expect the positive.

partyparty's avatar

@davidbetterman Or only a quarter full??

fathippo's avatar

I am a pessimist, which i don’t want to change, because i know the the minute i think of something positively, it will definitely go wrong, (because that’s just the way things work) so it’s not worth it, it will only cause pain and suffering.

However, there is one thing I’m looking forward to, and that is that if I make it to an age when I’m eligible, I too will be an old cat lady, scaring children, with a house full of rodents and excrement, which I hope to have a lot of fun with =)

HungryGuy's avatar

@davidbetterman – Scientist = You have twice as much glass as you need

HungryGuy's avatar

@thriftymaid – And if you ever expect the negative, just do what they do on Star Trek to solve every problem: just reverse the polarity…

The_Idler's avatar

@HungryGuy Yeah, I love this scientist one! I am using that from now on…

thriftymaid's avatar

@HungryGuy OK. Thanks a lot Hungry.

Berserker's avatar

So one thing I’m retaining here, a pessimist sees the glass as half empty, and the optimist sees it as half full, but the thing is, do either see how much there really is in it?
But yeah, temporary hindrance, I like that. I see it this way too quite often, which might not make me too hardcore a pessimist, although a temporary issue doesn’t make it any easier to deal with than if one were to perceive it as permanent.

TheArbiter's avatar

Greetings and Bon venue. I am a pessimist because that way, everything turns out better than expected.

TheArbiter's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir indeed it does, and sometimes I wonder if that in itself is an act of optimism.

Berserker's avatar

Well, it’s true that, in a way, if you never expect anything good, you’re never disappointed…someone mentioned this, and I agree, but for me even if I know something sucks and it ends up sucking as I predict, that doesn’t relieve the sentiments of frustration, sorrow or apprehension that come with the result, in any real way. :/

Coloma's avatar

I consider myself a ‘realist’ as well, but am naturally optimistic.

It is a fact that extroverts tend towards optimism and introverts towards pessimism…of course there can be exceptions, but, generally speaking personalty type/temprament does play a big role in one’s outlook.

I also think it has to do with ones mental health condition as well, obviously a depressed person is going to be more pessimistic and a more balanced mental condition would lean towards a sunnier outlook.

philosopher's avatar

I see hope in almost every situation. I still consider myself a realest.
Pessimist only see the negative side to everything.

Aster's avatar

At some point I turned into a pessimist. I like it. No one else does.
But it’s good at protecting me from being shocked or disappointed.
I expect the worst , it usually occurs and I simply say , “I knew it.”

Coloma's avatar


You are exactly right…the opposite is true as well…you usually do get exactly what you expect. Myabe spin it around and see what happens.

Aster's avatar

@Coloma How can you get exactly what you expect? For me that would be disastrous!

flutherother's avatar

Here’s a quote for you…..

“R enters the room in a wheelchair, barely able to form a sentence, and still the light in his eyes is undimmed. I find it hard to admire such relentless optimism: no doubt he would describe his glass as one tenth full”
The Blind Eye by Don Paterson

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

Yes I’m a pessimist and it means that I am almost always negative about the outcomes of situations, and I always look at the worst that could happen

Nullo's avatar

I’m an incurable optimist that happens to be very cynical.

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