Optimists And Pessimists

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.” ~ Gladys Bronwyn Stern … 

Very seldom do I look at having a pessimistic attitude as being helpful or productive at all. Here, however, we are told that we all have our own contributions to make in life–towards society, towards our fellow human beings and their lives, and towards our own lives–and each of us will be able to do so in our own unique and powerful ways, and on our own terms. The simple truth is that there is no right way through life–we all are on our own journey and we see things in our own ways. As a matter of fact, because there are countless ways for us to see things in life, it is extremely difficult for us to say someone else is wrong just because they do not agree with us.

That is not to say that pessimism is at all appealing. Most of us prefer to steer clear of pessimistic people as their attitudes tend to bring us down. Although when it does, we should assume partial responsibility–after all, we are the ones letting it bring us down. If, on the other hand, we accept the outside perspectives of others for what they are–views that do not belong to us or define us in any way–we can deal with what others are saying and how they are saying it without immediately thinking or feeling that they are wrong.

All views hold merit and have a purpose, regardless of whether we see it or not. Accessories and equipment such as airbags, life jackets, bulletproof vests, fire extinguishers, and many other protective devices, were the result of pessimists looking at the negatives, the consequences, and the dangers in life when things went wrong, and then coming up with positive solutions. Such individuals, albeit, rarely embraced true pessimism, which is quite harmful to everyone involved. And that is not the type of pessimism that Gladys is talking about here; after all, the deeply pessimistic person would never invent anything because they would only see the potential for failure.

Acceptance in life is a key contributor towards the peace we maintain within us. After all, so much happens in life that we cannot foresee and is out of our hands. And if we can see the world with greater clarity, and then accept things as they are without assigning a value to them or passing judgment on them, we will continue to experience peace and happiness as we grow in wisdom and understanding.

Allow yourself and those around you to make your own unique contributions today without judgement.

Questions to consider:

Why do we so often want to fix the way that pessimistic people tend to see the world? Have others tried to fix the ways that you see things?

Think of some things that would be different if we all saw the world in the same ways. What contributions would be lost?

Why is it important to accept the ways that other people deal with reality as they know it?

For further thought:

“In the long run the pessimist may be proved right, but the optimist has a better time on the trip.” ~ Daniel L. Reardon

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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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