The Spectrum of Optimism and Pessimism

At one end you have the pure optimist. He thinks everything is great, will always be great, and sees all negativity as a character flaw. Part is rooted in ego: he’s so confident in himself that he can’t fathom anything going wrong.

Then there are extremely optimistic people who accept that bad things occasionally happen to other people. They read about bad news with a detached sense of fascination, but view their own future as clear sailing and can’t imagine anything different.

Next are the optimists who are capable of being skeptical of other peoples’ optimism. They view their future as pristine but possess a low-grade BS detector, sensing when optimism is actually a sales pitch.

One rung down are the optimists who are wholly confident in themselves but equally pessimistic about others. They’re easy to mistake for pessimists, but they actually view their own futures as flawless.

Then there’s a special breed: The optimist who views everyone’s future as bleak only because a few things, or a few people, stand in the way. They’re single-issue pessimists who would otherwise be optimistic about themselves and almost all other people. They’re miserable, because a perfect world seems so close yet so far away.

Next are people who are pessimistic with their words but optimistic with their actions. They’re attracted to pessimism because it’s intellectually seductive and gets people’s attention. But their investment portfolios are clearly set up for a world where things get better. Many pundits (Read more...)