Monday, June 2, 2008

Somewhere, Beyond Optimism and Pessimism

One day, someone showed me a glass of water that was half full. And he said, "Is it half full or half empty?" So I drank the water. No more problem. ~Alexander Jodorowsky

It seems that French guys have all the answers. Here we have a classic philosophical problem: Either way we answer the question, we are, in a sense, correct. So, how do we know that our answer is the best one? Is it more realistic/practical to be an optimist or a pessimist?

Let's look at both sides of the story here. Those who are perpetual optimists have sparkles in their eyes and are enthusiastic about life and everything in it. They brighten others' days and inspire people who are perhaps not so consistent with their optimistic habits. Optimists can find the bright side of any situation, regardless of how much that situation really sucks at the time. They believe that only good things are to come in the future, because they think they've got no control over it, and it doesn't make sense for their moods to consider the negative possibilities of life. Maybe they even believe that they do have control over their future, so by thinking positively about it, they are molding it to be positive. These people have a tendency to be disappointed when things don't work out, yet find something good about those situations that don't work out, or attribute it to the "grand plan" that God has for us.

Pessimists, on the other hand, have a firm grasp of every negative possibility, and assume those possibilities to become realities. This way, when something good happens, they can be happy (momentarily), and not disappointed, since they had no expectations for good things to come. However, they also live in what some might consider "constant drear", always thinking negatively and allowing that contagious negativity to spread (as it does) like wildfire through friends, family and coworkers.

It is true: bad things happen. People get disappointed if they're expecting something good and it never comes. People are disheartened by terrible events that they hadn't even considered were possibilities in their and others' futures. Let's face it - life can be pretty friggin' depressing.
However, that doesn't mean that the best way to live is in a state of constant depression. On the contrary, it seems better to me, at least, to live with a sense of optimism always, but also to prepare oneself for the worst and consider all the options with an open mind.

Leave your expectations at the door, and drink the whole glass of water. Now, don't you feel well-hydrated and amazed by the great and terrible opportunities that this world affords us?

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