Realist or Pessimist

April 2, 2012

“I’m not a pessimist; I’m a realist.” You’ve probably heard that said before in response to someone being accused of being a miser or a killjoy. I know I’ve heard it before and I’m always skeptical when I hear it. I think it’s just the socially acceptable way to be a downer.


Are there cold, hard facts? Yes, there are. These do need to be taken into account, for sure. But, if you’re in a difficult situation and you stay focused on just the facts for too long, it’s going to be difficult to move forward.

A better approach:

1. See the situation as it is. Be a “realist” for a minute and find out what is really going on. Don’t make it worse than it is; don’t make it better than it is.

2. See the situation better than it is. Be an optimist and identify all the things that are working. Gain a little perspective and realize how much better you have it than so many others in the world today. Be a person of possibility and ask yourself, “What are some of the good things that could come out of this?”

3. Get busy making that better scenario a reality. Stay focused on the things that are working and the possibilities and get to work. Keep your eyes on the prize!

Question: Do you see yourself as a realist, optimist, or a pessimist? How does that effect how you see a situation?

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  • Reply Michael Wright April 3, 2012 at 6:30 am

    All the above? I think some people would call me an optimist, but more often than I’d like to admit I can allow pessimist threads to weave in my life. It’s a great reminder to see the glass as it really is. Neither empty or full. It just is. Kind of neutral. I love a talk by Steve Chandler where he mentions a video he saw of Robin Williams doing improv. He asked people to just throw something at him and he’d “make” something out of it – comedy. Whatever they gave him, it was neither good or bad for comedy. It just was and he made something out of it. Nice post.

    • Reply Michael Good April 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Thanks, Michael. Yeah, I can imagine if Robin Williams dwelled on how difficult or awful of an item he got, his creatively would have really suffered. But if he got excited and thought, “Oh, I could do this, and this, and this…” creativity and energy came pouring in.

      That’s a great example of being an optimist. Thanks.

  • Reply Donna Yates April 3, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I love this! I probably am more of an optimist than anything else. I always try to see “what might be” instead of “what it’s not”. Loving your daily comments. I’ve forwarded to others that I think can profit from them. Thanks.

    • Reply Michael Good April 3, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Thanks for the input. By seeing what might be, that’s when you can really start dreaming and getting excited and start making things happen. Thanks for spreading the word!

  • Reply Ann J Musico April 3, 2012 at 8:50 am

    I really like how you broke that down, Michael. I would definitely say I am an optimist. It seems after acknowledging what’s going on my mind automatically goes to what can I learn/get from this – where’s the gift?

    • Reply Michael Good April 3, 2012 at 9:53 am

      That’s a great perspective, Ann. Love it!

  • Reply Cindy Hirch April 3, 2012 at 10:04 am

    I’m a realist on the surface, BUT I’m always looking at the blessings and finding the silver lining.

    • Reply Michael Good April 4, 2012 at 8:38 am

      That’s the important thing, Cindy. I want to always look for the silver lining.

  • Reply adlib247 April 3, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Ha, reminds me of something I read the other day… “Dear Optimist, Pessimist, and Realist. While you guys were arguing about the cup of water. I drank it. Sincerely, The Opportunist.”

    • Reply Michael Good April 3, 2012 at 10:18 am

      Haha, love it, Dave. That’s a good one. I think there’s something to be learned there.

    • Reply Joe Lalonde April 3, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      That’s the first thing I thought of when I read the title of the post.

  • Reply Joe Lalonde April 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I think I’m more of a realist but with a bend towards the optimist. I see things the way they are but am willing to see a positive outcome most of the time.

    • Reply Michael Good April 4, 2012 at 8:43 am

      I like your cautious optimism here. 🙂 “…willing to see the a positive outcome most of the time.” I can be tough sometimes to remain optimistic. I hear you!

  • Reply Marianne Clements April 4, 2012 at 9:47 am


    Before I surrendered my life to Christ, I was a pessimist, although I probably would have called myself a realist. I heard things like “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” and “If you expect the worst then you’ll be pleasantly surprised if it’s better than what you expected”. This is the way I lived life.

    Now, I live life expecting the best — abundant life (John 10:10). If things don’t turn out exactly the way I expected, at least I was happy in the meantime. Also, I know that something good is coming my way, so I still have every reason to celebrate. This is a MUCH better way to live and I believe that we attract good things because of our positive attitude. Another saying is: “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar” and this is true!

    Have a Victorious Day!
    Marianne Clements
    Victory Christian Coaching

    • Reply Michael Good April 6, 2012 at 6:08 am

      Great input, Marianne! That’s a great verse and one that’s very applicable. I’ve heard people say if you expect the worst than you won’t be disappointed as well. But, what an awful way to live! You might not be disappointed, but you’re not really living that way. Plus, you’ll get to the end of your life and have lots of disappointments then.

  • Reply robclinton April 7, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I heard a joke one time where the Optimist and the Pessimist were arguing over a glass of water. The Opportunist came along and said, when you two were arguing whether or not the glass was half full or half empty I saw an opportunity and drank it! That’s me… I’m the Opportunist… 🙂

    I believe that we need to look with very curious eyes and wonder about what’s ‘impossible’ so we can use that to gauge what’s possible ‘right now’… Eventually, what use to seem impossible, starts become more possible through each successful possible moment.

    • Reply Michael Good April 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      That’s a great joke, Rob! I hadn’t heard it before Dave (adlib247) mentioned it here in the comments. What a great example being proactive and seizing an opportunity.

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