Pessimistic Optimism

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“You don’t … build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen.” Gordon B Hinckley

What’s the difference between looking at a situation with “pessimism” verses looking at it honestly? What if looking at the situation honestly and opening your eyes to see things are they really are means viewing something that is uncomfortable or discouraging? Looking at things with “optimism” isn’t turning a blind eye to the truth. It’s the ability to see the situation honestly but with the determination to deal with the issue. Optimism isn’t avoiding the problem or the reality. Optimism isn’t about covering up the uncomfortable truth with a screen. And you’re not being pessimist by naming the truth even when the truth is ugly.

It takes a certain level of determination and emotional maturity to view a situation honestly without exaggerating or minimizing the reality. Optimism is dealing with the truth, not glossing over the uncomfortable parts of truth with a false wall of hope. Optimism is accepting the responsibility to face reality, not ignoring it. There is no virtue in trying to minimize the reality and make it seem like it is something that it is not (or exaggerating the truth). But rather, optimism is not giving into defeat and hopelessness. Optimism is seeing obstacles and finding a way to deal with them. As David B. Haight once said, “A determined man finds a way; the other man finds an excuse.” I could also be said An optimistic man finds a way; a pessimistic man finds an excuse.


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