In Others’ Words: Pessimist or Optimist

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British politician & statesman

You know what the all-wise “they” say: It’s all a matter of perspective.

I can’t argue with “them” this time.

Am I going through life seeing all the difficulties? Or am I going through life embracing all the opportunities?

Probably a bit of both.

I haven’t kept track of my optimist versus pessimist tendency. Some times I’m all about “I can do this.” And sometimes I’m an Eeyore with this kind of perspective:

 

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

 

We may chuckle at Eeyore … but, really, do we want to be an Eeyore?

In Your Words: Choose one  — difficulty or opportunity. What helps you turn the one (difficulty) into the other (opportunity)?

** I’m a guest over at Jill Kemerer’s blog today. I hope you drop by and visit! **

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28 Comments

  1. May 9, 2012, 6:03 am   /  Reply

    I tend to hunt for opportunities. And this is a wild topic, my mom and I talk about it often–this idea of resiliency and life outlook. What motivates it. What inspires one sibling to be one way and another a whole different way. Sometimes the only explanation I have for my optimism is Christ.
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 8:26 am   /  Reply

      Resiliency. Such a wonderful word. And how intriguing that you and your mom talk about it.
      And yes, my faith — being reconciled to God who knows me better than anyone else, has made all the difference.

  2. Jeanne T
    May 9, 2012, 7:04 am   /  Reply

    Most of the time, I choose the optimist’s perspective, but not always. Sometimes, taking a little time away from the situation bringing me into a pessimistic perspective helps. Or escaping by reading a good book, the Bible, or journaling. Sometimes, just tickling my kids and hearing them laugh chases away the pessimist in me.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 8:26 am   /  Reply

      Your response made me smile, Jeanne. All wise choices — even the tickling your kiddos.
      :O)

  3. May 9, 2012, 7:17 am   /  Reply

    Prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.

    And the encouraging words of friends. That is vital as well.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 8:27 am   /  Reply

      Prayer.
      Sometimes the praying without words, yes?

  4. May 9, 2012, 7:19 am   /  Reply

    I truly think whether I lean toward difficulty or opportunity depends on whether I got enough sleep the night before. 🙂

    I do think I lean toward the optimist’s side, but on the wrong day, I can easily dip (or sometimes dive) into pessimism. I like what Wendy said about sometimes the only reason for her optimism being Christ…with Christ, how can we not be optimistic, right? So I guess when I’m leaning the other way, that’s when I know my focus is off.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 8:28 am   /  Reply

      There’s a saying (I believe I’ve quoted it on this blog): “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” ~Vince Lombardi.
      So, I agree with you, Melissa. Tiredness lends itself to pessimism, absolutely!

  5. Amy Leigh Simpson
    May 9, 2012, 7:32 am   /  Reply

    I like how Wendy put it. And I definitely think there is a battle for our minds. Keeping Christ front and center helps keep me optimistic and well… Happy! The company you keep makes all the difference.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 8:29 am   /  Reply

      Yes, Amy!
      Who we hang with, who we listen to, who we talk with — that makes a huge, huge difference to our mindset.

  6. May 9, 2012, 7:39 am   /  Reply

    It’s funny how a tiny shift in attitude can change a difficulty into an opportunity. Is it a rejection or is it a chance to take some feedback and improve (whatever it is that was rejected)?

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 8:30 am   /  Reply

      Katie,
      Good point — and sometimes you have to wrestle with whatever “it” is before you can turn the negative into a positive.
      At least, that’s the case for me.

  7. May 9, 2012, 8:04 am   /  Reply

    I’m an optimist by choice, conviction, glass “half full.” It’s simply a better way to live. But I also think I need to re-read Winnie the Pooh. That selection is charming.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 8:32 am   /  Reply

      My husband laughed out loud when he read the Winnie-the-Pooh/Eeyore quote.
      How could you not?

  8. May 9, 2012, 8:05 am   /  Reply

    The older I get, the more optimistic I become. I give God all the credit for helping me overcome my natural tendencies to worry and fret. I’m so glad He’s in the business of bettering people. =)

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 8:32 am   /  Reply

      Yes, yes, He is.
      That’s a wonderful way to put it, Keli.
      🙂

  9. May 9, 2012, 8:54 am   /  Reply

    I try to look at every difficulty and see what I can learn from it – because I am determined to not let life (or people) get the better of me. Sometimes I can see it right away, but other times it takes me years. I tend to be an optimist and I like giving people and things a second, third and even fourth try – or is that just me wanting to be liked by everyone? Even that is an optimistic view point! 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 11:22 am   /  Reply

      I like your “what can I learn from this” attitude, Gabrielle.
      🙂

  10. Patti Mallett
    May 9, 2012, 11:22 am   /  Reply

    As usual, you have wonderful quotes, Beth!! Thanks for always being honest about your common-to-man struggles.

    Regardless of whether we are glass half empty or half full people, there are not many who are always one or the other. It seems like most people are “mixes” of those traits, especially when exhausted or ill.

    I’m a big believer in personal choice, that our lives are made up of the choices we have made, and that it is never to late to change.

    And, as others have shared, I am exceedingly grateful to God for always being near, to love, guide, and strengthen each of us in every area of our life.

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 11:35 am   /  Reply

      I had a friend who said, “There’s always something in the glass!”
      Loved his attitude. Loved it!
      🙂

      • Patti Mallett
        May 9, 2012, 6:03 pm   /  Reply

        Oh, I like that, too!! Thanks.

        • Patti Mallett
          May 9, 2012, 6:04 pm   /  Reply

          And aren’t those the best kind of friends to have?

          • Beth Vogt
            May 9, 2012, 6:18 pm   / 

            Yep, yep.
            😉

        • Beth Vogt
          May 9, 2012, 6:17 pm   /  Reply

          🙂

  11. May 9, 2012, 6:32 pm   /  Reply

    I always like to say I’m an optimist and I hang on to my hope, but there is a little pessimism in me, if just a nougat. The fact is, I have an outlook on life that I despise. It’s neither very optimistic or pessimistic. I liken my brain at times to a flat line, as though my brain has pooped out and can not be rejuvenated. It’s not just because I’ve graduated. I’ve been like this for a while, and I blame it on my uncanny ability to always find an easy way to get everything finished without pushing myself too hard. I was like this in middle school, high school, and managed to carry it with me through college. It’s so easy to look in retrospect at how foolishly I lived my life these last four years, and the hardest thing will be finding a way to forgive myself for now living up to my potential. I want an opportunistic perspective. I want to see things as an opportunity, as an adventure, but there are things so ingrained in my mindset it’s a right challenge to change my perspective. Do I need a career change or a personality change? I always think, “Well, when I get to this point in my life, then I can start really living.” That’s what I did while I was in college, but that’s not at all how I should’ve been living my life. The last thing I want to do is keep saying, “Well, when I get a house, when I get the job I want, when I get married, blah, blah, blah.” Sometimes I think I need a therapist, but what I really need is God, but He is yet another thing that I try to shuffle around, ignore, pretend we have a great relationship when really it’s all surface, shallow, no substance (on my end, of course). I don’t want it to take something extreme before I get my act together. My biggest pessimistic outlook is not being able to trust myself. I get started on the right foot, but eventually I veer off the path, or stop walking all together and plop down on a rock. But perhaps this trust is going in the wrong direction. The reason I can’t trust myself is because I’m trying to control my life, and that kind of control can only be entrusted to God. So, the deeper issue I have isn’t that I don’t trust myself, but that I don’t trust God, which is the gateway to all my opportunities and adventures. So, really what I need to do is work on trusting God fully and work on our relationship in general. Nice post. You made me think a lot. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 9:13 pm   /  Reply

      Lauren,
      I so value your joining the conversation — and that you shared so openly.
      What you are wrestling with is what a lot of us have wrestled with, are wrestling with, will wrestle with …
      I am not diminishing your struggle, your faith journey.
      You’ve just made me think (as you usually do whenever I read your blog.)
      I like what you said about not wanting to keep thinking “When I get to this point in my life, then I can start really living.”
      That is so wise — because living that way would be a waste of days.

  12. P. T. Bradley
    May 9, 2012, 8:40 pm   /  Reply

    I have a tendency to see the glass 3/4 full. lol. Seriously though, I think we all are Eeyore’s at one time or another, depending on our circumstances. Like when we’re tired or not well like Melissa noted. And like Dee, I do have to revisit Winnie-the-Pooh!

    • Beth Vogt
      May 9, 2012, 9:20 pm   /  Reply

      🙂
      My daughter, Katie Beth, loves Eeyore–but I think it’s because she wants to cheer him up.

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