If you ever go to a sales meeting, you will hear a lot of witticisms about optimist vs. pessimist. “An optimist see opportunities in every difficulty; a pessimist see difficulties in every opportunity.” “A pessimist see a dark tunnel and an optimist see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Or something similar.
However in real life, there’s no absolute optimist or pessimist. Just think about your friends. Often you can’t decide whether he or she is a pessimist or an optimist. If you have a friend like this, what do you think?
Me: I can’t eat this. My Friend: Don’t you think you are eating too healthily? Me: There’s no such thing that’s called “too healthy”. My Friend: When we are all dead, you will be the only one alive, eating your ultra healthy rabbit food. What’s the point of living a long life when all your friends are in the cemetery.
I can’t decide whether my friend is an optimist or a pessimist. He is eating too much sweets, chips, meat for his own good, but he really enjoys food and enjoys friends’ company. He is right that without high cholesterol high fat food, or without his friends, life will be without pleasure, which is not worth living. On the other hand, he is not honoring the long held tradition of respecting longevity. A good long life should be cherished, shouldn’t it?
Me: The lockdown is coming. (This happened before last year's lock down.) We'd better prepare ourselves. Keep things in stock at home and be careful with... My Friend: Let's eat more good food, travel more, and party more. Me: What are you talking about? My Friend: What if the world is coming to an end? I don't want to have regrets.
I don’t know who’s the optimist and who’s the pessimist here. I’m always anxious and over prepared. If the end of the world is coming, I want to try my best to make preparations and find ways to get out. Is this being pessimistic or being optimistic? My friend, on the other hand, wants to spend all the time eating and drinking and enjoying himself to the last possible minute. Is he being a pessimist or an optimist? It is hard to say.
Many are optimistic who don’t want to be too optimistic–this mean they are cautious optimists. An optimist without caution is too reckless for human existence. A cautious optimist believes the world is going to be better in general, but he also gives allowance for the possibility that the world can go bad and crazy.
A pessimist, on the other hand, believes that the world is going to be worse. And being a happy pessimist, she is doing everything she can to prevent it from being worse or at least to delay it. If by any chance, the world becomes worse, she is prepared for it; if not, she will be happy and relieved to know that things are better than expected.
Actually I don’t think I can distinguish between a cautious optimist and a happy pessimist. The line is either blurred or nonexistent.