positive thinking

Who is right?

We were having a heated argument about optimism and pessimism – and it threatened to reach war-like proportions. Obviously, when you compare them, optimism has a better reputation than pessimism and you’ll hear people constantly telling you that “’tis better to be optimistic”.
 
But how can this be fair?  How can one be better than the other? Logically, at the end of that argument, we had to conclude that optimism and pessimism are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other.  You can be bullied by people who are optimistic as much as those who are pessimistic.
Image from thousandtyone.com 
They’re inseparable, really
Look at it this way: to be optimistic about something must automatically imply that you are pessimistic about the others, right? It is all relative.  So if you have a choice between Plan A and Plan B, and believe that Plan A will work, you’re being optimistic about Plan A and pessimistic about Plan B. 
Yet another way to look at these two buddies (yes, they are!) is to compare them to breathing – they’ve got to be as intertwined as inhaling and exhaling since you cannot do just the one. Take a debate – if your opponent is optimistic about what he believes, he’s inherently pessimistic about what you believe. And he’ll probably bully you with his holier than thou attitude and his opinion, telling you that since he likes his plan, that makes him an optimist. 
 
How can we ignore “positive thinking” here? We can apply the same theory about optimism and pessimism to it  – 🙂 if you’re positive about one thing, it implies that you’re negative about the alternative, right? It isn’t as though being positive is a virtue. You’re just stating your preference. You obviously cannot prefer everything as you have to make a choice. So it is basically a way to focus – and when you focus here, you cannot focus there since our focus has limits. Thus, while it is necessary to be positive, the question is  not “should I be positive” but “what should I be positive about? 
Easy to get bullied by either
Now try arguing with someone about this – and you’ll hear “at least I am optimistic”. Is that okay? The “someone” is not only undermining your ability to plan by calling you pessimistic, but being a bully and adding salt to your wound. Aren’t they being pessimistic about what you think?
 
But it is not just optimists who are bullies. Pessimists can also be bullies by accusing optimists of being unrealistic, head-in-the-clouds-ish and believing in magic. Sinful!
“Optimist” and “Pessimist” are not tags. They are just opinions about who is right and who is wrong – and who wins? It all depends on who pulls more moral weight. 
I’d say that one man’s pessimist is another man’s optimist as they are relative concepts. They are entirely subjective evaluations, and only relative to another person’s. 
 
It does not make sense to say “I am an optimist” or “You are a pessimist”. Both statements are incomplete without saying what I am optimistic about or what you are pessimistic about. When I say I am optimistic about finishing everything on my to-do list tomorrow. I am basically saying that I think this plan’s chances of success are much better to the alternative. 
Mmm…that said – I must admit I always like to see the brighter side of things, because there’s a question of this small thing called “attitude”
So,  tell me what do you think?
With love,



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Cheers!

Vidya

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    HI Sajeev! 🙂 That was quick! 🙂 Thanks for your comment, and yes – I follow the same policy! Positive always feels more energetic in a good way!

  • Reply
    Harleena Singh
    January 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Nice post Vidya!

    I guess I prefer seeing the positive side of things, even though it may be surrounded by negativity. There is always something good, even in the bad as they say. We just need those kind of eyes to see it :)Thanks for the reminder, and have a great weekend 🙂

  • Reply
    Melody Fletcher
    January 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Wow Vidya. What an excellent breakdown. Personally, prefer to be an optimistically allowing. That means, I choose to be an optimist, but allow others to think whatever they want to. It’s all good. Does that make me a super optimist? Ha.

  • Reply
    sajeevkmenon
    January 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Hi vidya – I prefer to look at the positive side of things.  After all there is so much to be grateful for:)

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Dear Harleena – Yes – positive is more feel-good.  I permanently wear pink-colored glasses 😀 and show it. 😉 The realism lurks at the back! 😀

    You have a fab weekend too!

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Melody, Welcome! I like super-optimists! They’re great to be around 😀 I always like to think everything is possible 😉

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    “Yin and Yang” is a perfect way to express it, Zephyr.  Debates are fun, though. I enjoy having you here. Do you also write a blog? I don’t see your name linked to one. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

  • Reply
    Zephyr
    January 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm

     They certainly are the yin and yang of how we think. Now if we begin debating as to which is yin and which is yang, it would be bullying as you suggested. So I will leave it there. 🙂 Good analysis and reasoning.

  • Reply
    terrisonoda
    January 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Always having been an optimist, I currently find myself on the pessimistic side of things regarding my job.  This truly bothers me, and I’m trying hard to work myself through it.  I think a healthy dose of both optimism and pessimism are required to balance out a person, but I could be wrong.  I think other factors have to weigh in on that as well, such as the given circumstances, one’s health and self-esteem, along with the degree of open-mindedness to which one approaches this subject.   Chronic optimists bug the crap out of me.  (yes I know that’s pessimistic, but it is what it is).  Chronic pessimists?  I don’t have time for them in my life.  (same….more pessimism).  And when arrogance weighs in on either side, I completely tune out.  Seems like you can’t win here?   There I go again…pessimism.   Sheesh, this debate would be so much more fun if I were high.  But I don’t do that anymore.  LOL
    Fun post, Vidya!  Opens up the brain.  Loved it.

  • Reply
    My Inner Chick
    January 21, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    –I have always thought that Optimism is better than Pessimism.

    I usually hang out with “The Optimist.”  although lately, I’ve been quite pessimistic.

    Great Post, Dear, Vidya. xxxxxxxxx

    My Inner Chick http://myinnerchick.com

  • Reply
    Janet Johnson
    January 22, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Hmmm . . . interesting debate! I’d never looked at it like this. I guess I’ve never considered optimism and pessimism as two different views in an argument but rather an attitude concerning given circumstances. That said, I think it’s okay to be pessimistic at times, but I love your last quote. It’s definitely more enjoyable to be optimistic. 🙂

  • Reply
    Cathy Taughinbaugh
    January 22, 2012 at 4:46 am

    Hi Vidya,

    Thoughtful post. I do consider myself an optimist, but definitely see your point. It can depend on what you are discussing or thinking about. I tend to look at all the options and look on the bright side. As your final image points out, it is more fun to be an optimist. Take care. 

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 22, 2012 at 11:58 am

    You said it exactly right, Terri – it is a fun debate  where everyone can be completely justified 🙂 Our circumstances, situation and state of mind determine which side we’re on – 🙂 Optimists are great, but as you said – the chronic ones, the overly optimistic ones can freak one out. Again, depends how we feel at the time. I hope some day we both share that glass of something, put our feet up and talk for hours 🙂 Hugs. Loveya, always.

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    True, Janet – optimism is more fun! 🙂 even if pessimism is practical at times. Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Welcome, Cathy! I usually try to look at the brighter side of things, too – but then, it all depends on what the thing is. That said, overall, I do like to be optimistic, most of the time, particularly with a 14 year old son :-D. Thank you for visiting!

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Dear Kim – I am more and more convinced that it is all about our moods, how we look at things 🙂 Hugs to you – and thank you for your kind words.

  • Reply
    Kimberly
    January 22, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Despite all I’ve been through, I’m a pretty optimistic person. That attitude reallyhope me trudge forward ya know?
    My husband on the other hand calls himself a realist…he’s not a dreamer…he looks at things for what they are…such as is the glass half full or empty…he’ll say something like “Well if it’s at half, you’re going to need a refill soon”…sigh.
    This is very thought provoking Vydia!

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 22, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Thank you, Zephyr – 🙂 I can see I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! So happy to connect.

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    🙂 Kimberly – I have a similar situation. Wouldn’t have gotten through most things in life without being optimistic. My husband is a ‘realist’ too and takes great pleasure in point out the flip side always. Keeps us on our….never mind ;-). I love how you spelt my name. There was a time I was serious about changing “vidya” to “vydia” and my Mom just laughed. Oh well. Hugs – and yes, I missed you!

  • Reply
    Zephyr
    January 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm

     I do have a blog at http://cybernag.in  Would love to have you there  too Vidya 🙂  Loved the flowers on your
    Sunday post.

  • Reply
    Kaylen
    January 25, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I think I’m pretty middle-of-the-road, but I have some friends who I use mostly as my sounding board-maybe because they give such great advice or are better listeners, and so to them, I might seem like a total pessimist, but I also have friends who are pessimists themselves and so I counteract them by being the optomist. And they drive me insane sometimes with their seemingly-endless way of looking at the down side of things.
    I need to remind myself to look at the positive more often-I think it’s better for your soul to be less pessimistic.
    Great post!

  • Reply
    Vidya Sury
    January 26, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Hi Kaylen! I also tend to switch sides depending on the conversation and the person I am having with.  It is so necessary to be both optimistic and pessimistic, don’t you think? Thanks for your comment – I think we all go through that! 😀 This is a topic that begs for debate!

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