What is the difference between optimists, pessimists, and realists? Do you really know? No, it isn’t the start of a joke. Besides most people have come to believe that there are only optimists or pessimists and nothing more. Instead, what I hope to accomplish is to define and clear up any misconceptions anyone may have by presenting these personality types.
A pessimist is often viewed as a negative person, but in reality this isn’t the case. Most people confuse pessimism with fatalism which is the root of this misconception. By definition a pessimistic person is usually a skeptic or doubter, someone who needs proof before they jump on board. Whenever they hear something new, they are the first to scrutinize it before they will accept it. Can be frustrating to some (especially optimists), but often they are the ones that facilitate the level of quality and change. Investigators and scientific people often represent this group.
A fatalist is someone who constantly spews out doom and gloom in just about every turn you take, no matter the situation. They are almost always at odds with something or someone (bone of contention) and are the hardest group of people to satisfy. Doomsday preppers tend to embody this group.
Optimists are often touted as the best way to be and are usually shown to be well adjusted and happy. They tend to look on the more favorable side of life and events expecting the most favorable outcome. Their outlook hinges on idealism and often overlooks the basic nature of people. Because of their upbeat mindset, they are often the most likely to be gullible and naive. They are the kind of people politicians like because they can be easily persuaded.
Which leave the realist. A realist is someone who tends to view or present things as they really are at this moment in time. They normally don’t worry about what was (even though they are aware) and also don’t dwell on what could be. They work and live in the moment, what is currently at hand. Even stranger is pessimists view them as optimists, and optimists often view them as pessimists.
What I found to be extremely fascinating is the outcomes that were derived from these various groups. Again it depends upon the situation, it always does which makes it hard to determine which group is best.
Case in point; during the Vietnam conflict, US soldiers who were taken as prisoners of war and held captive undetected for long periods of time. Once our troops eventually discovered these camps and rescued prisoners, the ones who made it (long term) were often realists. In fact after looking deeper into the matter, it was discovered that usually pessimists died first, closely followed by optimists which baffled the command. They thought if anyone would make it, it would be the optimists.
However, after further examination even the optimists who believed they would be rescued at anytime often lost hope in time and ended up giving in which resulted in giving up and their demise. Only the realists made it because they lived one day at a time and made the most out of that day, day in and day out expecting nothing more.
Now of course most people by nature are not purely one type or another. We are each peppered by some sort of mixture, an integration of types. However, we all seem to have a higher percentage toward one type than another which often leads us to believe that a person is either an optimist or pessimist and rarely consider anything else. Now that you know more, what type are you?