Would you consider yourself an optimist, pessimist, or realist? Optimists have no trouble labeling themselves, but our friends of the pessimistic and realistic persuasions have a little more trouble. Maybe I can help you determine what you are. From this description, what do you see? It is made of glass and is used for drinking liquids. At this time, it contains water amounting to 50 percent of its total capacity. If you are an optimist, you would probably describe the object as a half-full glass of water. If you are a pessimist, you probably would describe it as a half‑empty glass of water. If you are a realist, you probably would not care to describe it at all, but you are worried about who stole the remainder of the water. Many times, realists are just pessimists in disguise—so let’s lump them together.
Other than having a difference of opinion over whether a glass is half full or half empty, optimists and pessimists see a lot of things differently. A few examples are:
1. Optimists see light at the end of the tunnel. Pessimists are just sure that it is an oncoming train.
2. Optimists see this life as a banquet full of wondrous goodies. Pessimists worry about the calories.
3. Optimists concentrate on the beauty and colors of the rainbow that are caused by the rain. Pessimists concentrate on the mud.
4. Optimists see the donut. Pessimists see the hole.
5. Optimists see the potential in man and are joyful. Pessimists see the potential in man and want to run away to hide.
6. Optimists believe this is the best of all worlds. Pessimists are afraid they are right.
7. Optimists believe there is a promised land. Pessimists believe that, if there is such a place, somebody else will hold title to the property.
8. Optimists believe every dark cloud has a silver lining. Pessimists believe that they are the ones who will have to polish it.
Havelock Ellis may have been right when he wrote in The Dance Of Wolves, “The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum.” In this post 9-11 world, maybe you do have to be just a little bit crazy to believe in the future and to keep the flame of hope burning brightly for the generations to come, but it is a lunacy we can live with. As an aside to the optimists out there reading this column, go out every day with a smile on your face. If you do nothing else, you will drive the pessimist mad wondering what you have been up to that caused you to be so happy.