pessimism doesn’t = realism

I have heard plenty of people say, “I’m not a pessimist, I’m  a realist.”  This sentiment suggests to me that pessimistic or negative people validate their attitudes under the guise of being realistic. The truth is, they are probably being realistic, but with a negative spin on the whole situation.

People sometimes suggest that positive, upbeat attitudes indicate an uninformed perspective that is avoiding reality. Quite the contrary. I have found that I can be realistic and positive simultaneously. It actually helps me move through the crisis/situation toward a better outcome. 

The question is ultimately:  what motivates you?   If being a bummer motivates you to action, then fine. If being positive drives you forward, that’s good too. In this regard, both attitudes seem necessary–the positive and the negative–depending on one’s own proclivities. Each is a personal perspective (and choice) that hopefully moves one toward productive action.

But let us all remember: being realistic does not rationalize the decision to be a pessimist. We choose how we perceive information (or, reality), whether negatively or positively, independently of how clearly we are seeing our situation. So don’t make excuses. If you’re negative, you’re negative. Own your attitude. Otherwise you’re not being realistic with yourself.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice.(, 2009.

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