Optimistic Or Pessimistic?

If you have to choose one or the other, is ‘optimistic’ or ‘pessimistic’ the better choice? You get to set the criteria.

Welcome to a new feature at Intellectual Roundtable: Throwdown Thursdays! Each Thursday we’ll list a classic pair, and ask you to choose between them. If you want to provide the reasoning for your choice, all the better!

This week, we give you the choice of optimistic or pessimistic. You can decide what that means. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Are you an optimistic or a pessimistic person?
  • Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?
  • Does being optimistic or pessimistic prepare you better for life?
  • Do you prefer that your friends and/or partner are optimistic or pessimistic?

Or come up with an interpretation of your own!

Optimistic Or Pessimistic?

15 thoughts on “Optimistic Or Pessimistic?”

    1. Bruce, I’m guessing you have some ideas on how to practice optimism that we can all benefit from. Would you care to share some?

      Tom S.

  1. I have no doubt that I am optimistic. I almost have to be!
    For without optism the future would hold no hope. And I would fail miserably.

      1. Thanks for asking Tom.
        I gave up on life at one point in my life. It was terrible to see what happened to the people who were around me. I didn’t know how much my life and choices affected others.
        I like being a caretaker. And I think it is part of my nature to use encouragement around other people to inspire them.
        I like the effect in the long term that I see.
        I also need to stay on the positive side of things in order to help my spouse to avoid the fact that he has a long road ahead of him. I remind him of how far he has come already with his health this year and although he has work to do, but he is making progress.
        So hope is all we have… With out hope, we have nothing.

  2. Underneath it all, I’m pessimistic. I work in the conservation field and sometimes feel I “know too much” about the ecological decline of our planet. The trend is not in the right direction. It’s one of the reasons I chose to remain childless – I couldn’t commit to pretending to be hopeful about the future.

    Or as poet Maggie Smith put it:

    1. I respectfully disagree with Maggie. She must have been having a bad day when she wrote that.

      Good news doesn’t make the headlines. Probably 90 percent or more of what is reported is bad news: natural disasters, fires, murders, wars, etc. Steve Hartman on CBS News on Friday evenings has the good news. He gets about two minutes, but I love his stories!

      This week, Hurricane Florence is the bad news. The good news is organizations like Habitat for Humanity are helping people who lost their homes. As Fred Roger’s Mom told him, in every disaster, look for the helpers.

      1. I’m still thinking about your concerns about the future of our planet… thanks for your comment. Makes me wonder about my grandchildren’s future – even now the 8 year old suffers from asthma – probably related to air pollution. I drive a gas powered car, not an electric or hybrid, so I’m contributing to air pollution. I try to do my part by car-pooling or taking mass transit, eliminating unnecessary trips, walking more, etc. The car I drive is 20 years old, so I’m conserving/recycling in that regard.

        This is a long response to your comment. I hope this makes sense and contributes to this conversation. I’d like to see more back and forth discussion on this blog, how about you?

  3. My best self is an optimist. I am usually a very hopeful guy, and it is my nature to be a cheerleader — in fact, I used to actually be one in high school. I love cheerleading for people as they try new things, especially advocacy for justice. But, of course, there are the days I need people to cheerlead for me. There are days/weeks where my Anxiety does It’s best to turn me into a pessimist (e.g. I can’t do this or that, the world is doomed, Anxiety will always be with me and beat me down). I am fortunate to have friends who prop me up until I am able to break on through to the other side and be my best self again.

  4. I consider myself to be an optimist. After all, Christianity (which I aspire to) is all about the good news of Jesus’ (and our) resurrection from the dead. I’m reminded of a couple of quotes from Pat Kennedy, my former pastor: “We have nothing to be afraid of”, and “God always saves the best for last.”

    The first quote was about the time of the 2008 economic crisis, and the second was at a Memorial mass and supper for families grieving the loss of a loved one. Both quotes have stuck with me over the years.

    I sincerely hope I’m not offending anyone reading this blog. Yes, Jesus’ message has always offended some people. Much of his life is a mystery to me, so I can relate to skeptics who have a hard time believing in him. I see my role here is to plant seeds, and let God and others water them. May God bless (be with) you all.

    1. Tomorrow, Sunday, Sept.16th, all over the world, Christians will hears these words at church: “But who do you say I am? Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” (Mark 8:27-35)

      Who do you say Jesus is? To me there is no more important (or interesting) question than this.

    2. Tom:

      You know I come at things differently than you. I think that’s okay. I always appreciate your contributions to this blog.


  5. I think I’m a little of both. It’s helpful to be optimistic so that you’re confident and productive to work with in a team. But I’m also a bit pessimistic about myself and the world around me. The word ‘realist’ comes to mind.

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