You’ve probably heard conflicting ideas about realism and optimism. Are the realists really grounded in reality? And are the optimists walking around with their heads int he clouds? Or are the realists just pessimists in disguise? And are the optimists creating their own reality? Today, we’re going to dispel myths surrounding both sides and figure out which worldview makes you happier.
The extreme ends of optimism and realism are detrimental to your happiness. With that said, being a realist with a healthy dose of optimism provides the best results for many people. Check out the full article to see how a balanced approach between these two outlooks works and how it’ll make you happier.
So, is Optimism or Realism Better?
Black-and-white thinking isn’t actually the answer. The answer is more nuanced than merely picking one side over the other. In practice, having a mixture of optimism and realism provides the best results. We should all maintain a healthy grounding in reality because staying grounded in reality offers more benefits than looking at everything through rose-colored glasses. But again, that idea offers no nuance.
The truth is, that optimism isn’t in competition with realism. They aren’t mutually exclusive at all. Of course, we should be grounded in reality. But we should also take our negative thoughts in hand and choose to be positive. We really should never abandon positive thinking. Morale is a real factor when making important decisions and coping with stressful situations and positivity boosts our morale.
The Downfall of Optimism
The real problem with going too far down the optimism road is one of perspective. Everything could be falling to pieces around you while you’re believing, “It’s fine! It’ll work out eventually.” Hoping for a positive outcome isn’t the same as creating that outcome yourself. You’ll miss out on the skills built by tackling the hard stuff if you take that sort of passive approach to life.
Life is full of bad news. We can’t ignore it, but it’s also unhealthy to dwell on it. An extreme optimist might willfully ignore difficult choices or the harsh reality of their situation. When optimism becomes denial, that’s a problem.
We shouldn’t skew the facts by being too cheerful in our interpretation of them. This can spell disaster. If you’re avoiding the bigger picture, especially when it comes to finances, you could run afoul of creditors. You’ll always run into unexpected hiccups — and optimism can help us cope and help prevent us from spiraling into negativity — but being happy-go-lucky during planning won’t adequately prepare us for the possible outcomes.
Realism and Its Limitations
If extreme optimism isn’t the answer, then it may seem that extreme realism is the solution instead. But some people hide pessimism in their realism.
Ideas need to work in the real world. And of course, blind optimism won’t do that all the time — that’s what realism is for. But focusing too heavily on “reality” can be exhausting. Being too “realistic” sucks the hope and joy out of life.
We aren’t purely logical robots that can function without hope. You’re missing out on half of the picture if you’re only calculating the odds of your success. You need to persevere in spite of the odds stacked against you, and you need to enjoy the challenge, too!
Another danger is that sometimes we disguise our pessimism as realism. We use the “I’m a realist” excuse to hide from the fact that we’re actually just expressing our fears and calling it a reality.
Remember that reality is subjective. So what we think is reality may not be the absolute truth. We’re always subject to our perspectives, and that includes our fears — something we too often express in our assessment of reality.
Extreme optimism can be a recipe for disaster, and extreme realism is subject to our perspective. So really, we can’t function well if we lean too heavily in either direction. As they say, hope for the best and plan for the worst.