Pessimistic vs. Optimistic


This is a glass. A glass filled with water. The manner you perceive this glass of water, determines how you perceive the life of yourself and of the lives of others. Do you view this glass as half empty or half full?

Dreamer, Optimist, Utopian, daydreamer, all of these titles describes one type of person. A person who thrives off of the good that goes on in their lives. These are the people who see good things in their horizon and recognize that there is more to come. On the polar side of the spectrum is the Pessimist. Also recognized as a Pragmatist, Cynical, or my favorite “Prophet of Doom”. A Pessimist experiences, good things in their lives, but will constantly question it. They would view it as mere “good luck” or see it as a trap with negative motives behind it. Two distinctly different types of people, how they view their life and the world.

This post is not about good versus evil. Good people and bad people. Being a pessimist doesn’t make one a bad person, nor does being a Optimist makes one a good person. This isn’t about how people treat others and their karma, it’s about how these two types of personalities view the world, and why it may bear on their well-being. A rising number of scientific studies suggest that optimistic people tend to live longer and have better physical and mental health than pessimistic people. The researchers also suggest that optimism appears to demonstrate consistent positive signs for people regardless of their demographic factor, being income level or health status.

Rapper, Mogul, Husband, and Daddy Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter is the perfect example of how a young boy from the toughest region of Brooklyn, New York kept an optimistic mindset to become the man he is today. “As kids we didn’t complain about being poor; we talked about how rich we were going to be and made moves to get the lifestyle we aspired to by any means we could. And as soon as we had a little money, we were eager to show it.” Jay has always expressed how difficult living in the environment that he grew up at was. But as he shared so many times before, it was instill in his mind and his heart to get out from underneath the thumb of poverty and to inhabit the life he felt he deserved. Anybody who has ever heard of Jay-Z, knows his story of how he came to where he is. How he was turned down by various record labels before he and his two friends Dame Dash and Kareem Burke decided to start their own Recording Label, Roc-A-Fella Records. How the three of them created their own fashion line Rocawear, after being refused by the senior management team of the fashion line, Iceberg. Optimism, strategic planning, and both book and street smarts have played a vast role in Jay’s success story.

But had Jay-Z been pessimistic about his future would he have been successful? What if Jay believed every successful person around him were “opportunists” would he have been to create a legacy of his own? I don’t believe he would. In fact, there have been several business moves that Jay has executed that has established him an incredibly respected businessman. And simply the ignorant would of labeled him as an Opportunist. “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man. So let me handle my business. Damn.” Pessimism, however anticipates undesirable outcomes. A Pessimist believes that the bad outweighs the good. Dr. Aaron Beck, a American psychiatrist and a Professor of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that depression is due to unrealistic negative views about the world. He further explains that most pessimists will argue that their understandings of their reality is justified. But a research that was published by the American Psychological Association (APA) back in 2013, revealed that, “Pessimism about the future may encourage people to live more carefully, taking health and safety precautions.” Frieder Lang, a professor at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany stated that, “We argue, though, that the outcomes of optimistic, accurate or pessimistic forecasts may depend on age and available resources. These findings shed new light on how our perspectives can either help or hinder us in taking actions that can help improve our chances of a long healthy life.

So whether you think being optimistic can lead a happier and fulfilling life or it can cause unrealistic expectations. Or if you think that being pessimistic will lead to a longer, safer life or depression. It is all about perception, so ask yourself once more. Is your glass half full or half empty?