Unabashedly Optimistic

My days feel much like this antelope that we passed while driving in Montana—On Top of the World! Unlike Pollyanna who was blindly optimistic, I’m unabashedly optimistic—not embarrassed to build a net before I leap.

And lest you ask… no, I don’t gargle with bong water, and yes, my balloon does land.

The difference between optimists and pessimists is not simple cheerfulness: it’s how we cope with stress. Psychology Professor Michael Scheier of Carnegie Mellon University explains that optimists consistently outlive pessimists because optimists cope better with adversity. Optimists deal with stress and take action to handle it, while pessimists often deny problems or disengage.

These coping mechanisms affect people on a cellular level. Optimists not only live longer, but they also live better, having better mobility, circulation, and cognitive faculties into old age.

Optimist or pessimist—which side of the coin do you fall on?

© lauriebuchanan.com

66 thoughts on “Unabashedly Optimistic

  1. I try to be optimistic, or at least I try to approach things in a positive way and be constructive, but I can be too critical for my own good. But I keep trying!

  2. Optimist! I can not imagine any other way. With many examples of pessimists nearby, it is an easy choice. I believe it really is a CHOICE, because a wise teacher once said……………..”Whatever you are not changing it, you are choosing”

  3. I have been accused of being an optimist many times but I don´t apologize. Actually, I am most probably a realist. I do tend to see the best in everyone and every situation but I look at things from a practical view. I would like to handle stress better though. Your tagline is perfect.

  4. Laurie, can I be a bit of both?! 😀😃 It often depends on the situation and also time. After some time away from the feelings/event I will err towards optimisim but in the middle of things will probably fall into pessimism. By my reckoning the overall effect on my health is neutral! Love you hear your positive cheerful outlook, Laurie – it comes across in your posts and comments! Great pic as well! hugs ❤️

    • Annika, I’m with you here although I often go from pessimism to optimism – but unlike most pessimists I always take action – even if it is stressful. Guess my bottom line here is to get rid of the problem and the way to do that is to work your way through it and solve it. But I would never want to be a Pollyanna – remember Pollyanna (in the 1959 Disney movie starring Hayley Mills) fell out of a tree and was crippled.

      • Sharon, that’s what I do too…allowing myself a little time to wallow if needed. No I don’t know the story of Pollyanna… but am going to read up about it. Many thanks for writing.

  5. Like Darlene, I would classify myself as a realist, a realist with optimistic overtones. I live life in forward motion, imagining good things ahead. However, I do enjoy looking back, recording family memories.

  6. You present a different idea of optimism/pessimism than the one I have.
    I have always considered myself a pessimist: I look at “worst-case scenario,” and prepare for it. I am usually pleasantly surprised when things don’t go that badly, but I’m prepared. Ready for difficulty, I am strong enough to cheerfully work through the problems.
    I see my friend, Chris (one of the saddest, most miserable people I know), as an undying optimist. She has a list of truisms that she leans on: “God will take care of it;” “Everything will work out for the best;” “It’s going to be fine…” When things work out less than “fine,” she is totally unprepared and devastated. I joke with her that I want to take her by the shoulders, shake her, and say, “When? When?? You tell me when things have ever worked out for the best?!?” I’ve teased her that, on her tombstone, we’ll put, “Things finally worked out.”
    Based on your assessment, I’d have to reverse my definitions.

  7. I too feel the quickening of optimism that has helped me all through my life (see Chris’ comment above), but I must say that the current political situation in this country challenges my natural high spirits more than I have ever felt before.

  8. I think I have been, in the past, mostly an optimist. This past year, less so – in accordance with what Chris said, I have developed a sense of doom about where this country is headed. I search for hope, and will continue to do so.

  9. Although it may take me some time to get there, I am an Optimist. I am not bubbly and epervesant like my neighbor that everyone called “Coke” for 76 years. I am usually calmly and quietly thinking of options. I do live with Mr Anxiety and that sometimes means I need to go for a walk and I time out to get in the groove I do get there

  10. Generally, I’m an optimist although not the bubbly type. I see possibilities and work toward them. At the same time, I enjoy allowing for the unexpected synchronicity and assistance. When the occasional dark cloud hovers over my optimistic parade, i keep on walking until the sun shines through again.

  11. I like what you say as to the difference between optimists and pessimists, and that has to do with how we cope with stress. The way we might see things unfolding could be overwhleming many times. And yet the approach, strategies to cope with those circumstances and tackle the issue certainly requiere a positive attitude aiming to resolve things… if we really want to resolve them.
    I think I am usually optimistic in that sense. Great post Laurie. Happy tuesday ❤ xx

  12. Hi Laurie,

    I’d say I’m on the optimistic end of the spectrum most of the time, and that doesn’t mean that I ignore any of the many and significant levels of risk, rather it means I have the confidence to seek them out, explore them, and find effective mitigation strategies.

    Risk is an eternal part of life, and life has existed for at least 3 billion years on this planet (and perhaps closer to 4 billion), so while lots of individuals may have died, life has shown an ability to stick around. That gives me a degree of confidence (though not over confidence).

    I see many levels of very real risk for us as a species in our very near future, and I am cautiously optimistic that we will survive them, and flourish in a way never before possible.

    And that is going to take something, from each and every one of us – a new level of responsibility, a commitment to ongoing exploration of what the idea of responsibility might look like; then being that, consistently.
    That will involve diversity, acceptance, respect. tolerance, in ways few have much experience of at present.

    • Ted — I very much see you as having, “… the confidence to seek them out, explore them, and find effective mitigation strategies.”

      And I agree that diversity, acceptance, and respect are utterly vital.

  13. Laurie, like everyone else in this world, I’ve had my share of hard times and rough patches. It’s the smooth sailing and uneventful days that we mostly forget, the times when things are good, when Life glides by on greased rollers and all is business as usual. There has never been a bad time that I didn’t live through, that alone gives me hope for the future. I am a gardener, I think all true gardeners are optimists, they have to be. You have to have Faith that the seeds will sprout, that the Sun will shine and the rain will come. We would have all disappeared a long time ago had it not been for the optimistic farmers who sowed their seeds and reaped their crops to feed the people.

  14. You could say I’m a pessimistic optimist but that really doesn’t make sense …or does it ? I’ll leave you to decide .
    Seriously I have to go for an optimistic it’s the only way to go 😁😁

  15. A bit of both, Laurie. I’m generally optimistic and believe in the best outcomes, but occasionally I slip into the doldrums. I know which one I prefer.

  16. It makes total sense that optimists have a better quality of life and live longer; I suppose they are better equipped to deal with life’s difficulties, treachery and hurt. I like to think I am one, but have my dark and weak moments too. It is the thought of there being a light at the end of the tunnel and knowing that every problem has a solution that helps me cope with hard times. That’s the trick. 👍

  17. My Blue Brain has an optimistic perspective. However, My Green Brain and life experiences have taught me to also have a cautious perspective.

  18. I’m very optimistic. But have to say it’s a little annoying that people jealous of my happiness and positive thinking make the mistake of thinking that if I’m that happy I must be ignorant. Um. No. I think they’ve got that the wrong way round. 😆 it’s definitely the way I deal with things that is different. I still have stress. Life can hit me hard with nasty surprises along the way. But I know things get better. May be even happen for a reason. It will pass.

    I’m an optimist. 💪it’s my secret superpower 🙆

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