Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Can You Be an Optimist and a Realist?

As I mentioned on Monday, my husband is the one keeping me in check on the home front. If the slightest bit of negativity escapes me -- he calls me on it. Seriously, he's turned into the negativity police -- which is funny considering he's the biggest pessimist I know. (I'll get to that another time).

Anyway, the positive point of this, is that it's really, really, making me think about every single thing I'm going to say out loud. And I've begun to check myself before anything really negative escapes my mouth, which in turn is making me feel more positive, relaxed, and happier. Good news, right? However, I now have a new phrase which I've heard myself using repeatedly over the past few days, as I've found myself proceeding anything I'm about to say to my husband that could be perceived as even slightly negative with the words: "I'm not being negative -- I'm just being realistic."

For instance, last night we had a conversation about something I wrote a while back, and I said something to the effect of "Well x and y are never going to happen with this book."

Ding, ding, ding! The negative police called me on that one. I said the word *never,* after all!

Yet, I honestly don't think what I said was negative, but realistic. I knew given the book and being in the publishing industry for a while that things I were saying were just fact, truth. I wasn't being a pessimist, but a realist. My husband disagreed. Firmly.

So that got me to thinking was he right, or can you be an optimist and a realist at the same time?

I think you can. I think just believing blindly that everything will always be perfect, may even be damaging to my optimism. I think there needs to be a balance. I think it's okay to hope for the best, but to understand all the circumstances and facts that surround any situation. Isn't part of being an optimist learning to accept the bad things in life by finding silver-linings and to not let these things get you down?

Or maybe not. Have I fallen off the wagon already?


  1. There's maybe a difference between optimism and positivity. Optimism implies hope for the future, while positivity implies how you respond to a given situation. So you can be a positive realist - that's what I think I am. You could say, for instance, "I'm so grateful for XXX that happened before, because with the industry the way it is now, XXX," and that would be positive because you have a grateful state of mind, and realistic at the same time.

    I love that you're doing this blog, Jillian!

  2. I like that -- a positive realist! And I agree, that that term fits you. I'd say you're an optimist, too, though :-)

  3. I think you can! I say that exact phrase all the time. I had to take a strengths test for work a few years back and it came out that positivity is one of my top strengths. At the time, I thought, "How can that be?" But I've realized it IS because I am also a realist. I don't seek out the negative, only point out the realistic view.

  4. Thank you, Stacy! I am definitely passing this tidbit on to my husband :-)