Not sure if you are an optimist or a pessimist? Do you want to clearly see the difference between an optimistic person and pessimistic person so you can figure out where the people around you stand? This article will list some of the differences in very real situations and even give examples. At the end of it, you should have a clearer vision of the difference between optimistic and pessimistic, and you should be able to quickly see people, including yourself, for what side of the scale they represent more.
1. When It Comes To Setbacks
Both the optimistic and the pessimistic person experiences setbacks, but they view them completely differently. The optimistic person is able to view the setback as temporary, which allows them to do what they need to do to move past the setback. The pessimistic person views the setback as permanent, which causes them to give up and stop trying in that particular area because their plans have been permanently destroyed.
For example, someone trying to quit smoking may give in and have a cigarette during a time of pressure. The optimistic person will view it as a setback, but still have the belief that they are able to quit smoking. The pessimistic person will view it as a setback that has ruined their chances of quitting, and start smoking again.
2. When It Comes To Perception
If you show an optimistic person and a pessimistic person the same image, they will view it in very different ways. Their perceptions are made up of their thoughts and beliefs, so they don’t see things in the same way because one person thinks positively and the other person thinks negatively.
For instance, if you show them both a picture of a man not smiling, an optimistic person may just see a man who is relaxing or thinking, while a pessimistic person will see a man who is plotting, rude, or experiencing something bad. The glass half full is often used as an example for this difference between optimistic and pessimistic.
3. When It Comes To Take Risks
When things are uncertain, but could have a positive payoff, optimistic people are willing to take the risk and go for it. A pessimistic person will only take the risk if the reward is obvious and there is a high chance it is going to happen; otherwise, they will avoid it. This doesn’t apply to addictions that are driven by a burning need to engage, such as gambling. It applies more to new things like going on a trip, going for a job interview, or going on a date.
For example, if you try to set up a date for a friend with someone you know fits their personality and lifestyle, an optimist will have faith in your opinion and want to see for themselves. A pessimist will worry that you have no clue what they are really like and are going to set them up with a complete loser and, therefore, find a way to cancel.
4. When It Comes To Faith In Other People
We all depend on relationships in our lives for support and to fulfill our needs, but pessimistic and optimistic people have very different viewpoints on other people. Pessimistic people see other people as out to get them and selfish, and they are not willing to depend on others or open up to them until they know for sure that they are ‘good people’. Optimistic people see other people as generally decent, and they are willing to have faith in other people.
For example, a pessimistic and optimistic having their car fixed may view the mechanics in a very different way. The pessimist may view them as liars who are trying to get more money out of them. The optimist will have faith in them and only question them if something is obviously wrong.
5. When It Comes To Failure
Failure is a constant part of life for both optimistic and pessimistic people; however, it can play a very different role in their lives because they view it so differently. For an optimistic person, failure can help them experience more success in the future. For a pessimistic person, failure could end their efforts completely.
For example, an optimistic business owner who experiences bankruptcy will see the failure as a lesson in what they did wrong and what they need to do next time for more success. They will likely start making plans to create a new business that will be much more successful within a reasonable amount of time. A pessimistic person will view the failure as a sign that they are not meant to be a business owner and give up on the dream completely.
6. When It Comes To Victories
Good things happen to both optimists and pessimists, but they view those victories in very different ways. An optimist will celebrate what has happened and view themselves as the reason for the victory. This will usually propel them towards more victories. A pessimist will be surprised at their victory, believing they had nothing to do with it and it was completely a fluke, and they will worry about what is going to go wrong now to balance out the good that they are experiencing. This will usually propel them to a failure in the near future.
For instance, an optimistic person who receives a raise will recognize that their hard work paid off and enjoy the fact that they have gotten the recognition they deserve. A pessimistic person will not understand why they got the raise and worry about there being an ulterior motive behind it, such as more work and responsibility. That worry will cause them to become paranoid and less effective at their job.
7. When It Comes To Mistakes
Mistakes happen, but optimistic people and pessimistic people deal with them very differently. An optimistic person will make a mistake, learn from it, and then let it go. A pessimistic person will make a mistake and then beat themselves up until their confidence and faith in themselves has dwindled.
For instance, if an optimistic accountant makes a mistake with a number, they will figure out where they went wrong, fix it, and move forward. If a pessimistic accountant makes a mistake with a number, they will feel horrible about it, figure out where they went wrong, and then feel horrible about it for a long time afterward questioning their abilities and worthiness as an accountant.
8. When It Comes To Good Days Versus Bad Days
If you want to tell the difference between optimistic and pessimistic people, ask them how their life has been up to this point. An optimistic person will feel like they have had more good days than bad days, so they will answer positively. A pessimistic person will feel like their life sucks and has been filled with bad day after bad day, so they will answer negatively.
For example, I know a couple who have had many of the same experiences in their marriage but view their life completely differently. The man is an optimistic person and he believes that his life is great. He sees the bad days as part of his life that helped him grow or benefited him in some way. She is a pessimistic person and believes that her life has been full of hardship and negative experiences.
9. When It Comes To Bad Things Happening
Bad things are going to happen, but some people don’t worry about them happening as much as others. Knowing this can easily help you separate the optimistic from the pessimistic people. Optimists are fully aware that something bad could come their way, but they don’t dwell on it or expect anything bad to happen. Pessimists tend to see all the possibilities of bad things that could happen and then stew in those possibilities with fear and anxiety. They also take extreme precautions to prevent bad things from happening, such as putting unattractive, but strong bars on their windows so that no one can break in (personal experience). Unfortunately, pessimists worry so much about bad things that they often do things that pull bad experiences into their life.
For instance, I once worked with a man named Larry. He was constantly worried that he was going to get fired, even though he was a hard worker and a nice guy. He would ask us to reassure him all the time. He would talk about mistakes he had made as if it was guaranteed that they would get him fired. His anxiety over his job eventually led him to make a life-threatening mistake, and he was fired.
10. When It Comes To Acts Of Kindness
Acts of kindness do happen in this life. Someone can treat you to something, help you with something, or take time out of their day to make your life better in some way. Optimistic people will see an act of kindness as what it is – someone being kind. Pessimistic people will see an act of kindness as a sign that someone wants something from them because they can’t believe that someone would do something without thinking about themselves first.
For example, if you help someone with their groceries who obviously needs help, you will notice a difference right away between an optimist and a pessimist. An optimist will thank you and talk about their day or ask you about yourself. A pessimist will become suspicious, tell you that they have nothing to give you, and may even yell at you to leave them alone.
11. When It Comes To Doing New Things
Life is about growing, and new experiences are what help us learn and expand as a person. An optimist recognizes this fact and openly takes on new ventures and wants to have fun during them. A pessimist has a lot of skepticism about trying out something new for the sake of doing something new. If they do approach the situation, they will limit their fun and try to have as much control over the situation as possible.
For example, a couple I know recently went on a vacation. The wife is an optimist and she wanted to experience as much as the location had to offer, even though she had no plans about what to do. The husband is a pessimist and he complained about everything they did and could potentially do, and eventually wound up not wanting to do anything at all but watch TV in his hotel room.
12. When It Comes To Good Things Happening
Optimistic people believe that good things can and will happen. They are hopeful for the future and believe that their dreams and wishes can come true with the right amount of work and focus. They know that they create their life, so they can see how possible it is to create great things. Pessimistic people believe that good things are purely hopeful. They believe that life is random and things don’t work out the way they want them to, so they don’t even hold on to the notion that they will.
For instance, an optimistic person creating a business will be able to visualize great success in the future. Those visualizations will help them do what they need to do to create a successful business. A pessimistic person will not put any faith in great things happening. They will assume that bad things are to come, and they will focus more on that fear and what to do during those bad times than going out there and taking risks that could pay off for their success.
13. When It Comes To Focus
This is an easy way to tell the difference between optimistic and pessimistic people. Optimistic people will be more focused on the present and the future, and pessimistic people will be more focused on the past. Being optimistic means being hopeful, despite what has happened in the past. Being pessimistic comes from reflecting on what has happened negatively in life and not being able to let go of it or seeing it as a reflection of what is to come.
For example, a pessimistic person may bring up something negative that happened over and over again to you, which is an obvious sign that they think about it often. An optimistic person may have brought up the issue once, but dealt with it and now is more talkative about what is happening or what is to come.
14. When It Comes To Learning
When you are confident in yourself and open to the future, you are willing to learn. You keep yourself open to new things and new ideas because you know that they may be something that benefits you in a great way. But, when you are discouraged with life and stuck in your negative life beliefs, you are unwilling to learn. You believe that your way of thinking is the only way of thinking, and you are so stuck in your pattern that you are unwilling to learn anything new.
For example, if someone shuts out your ideas and viewpoints before you even start to share them, then they are very strong in their convictions. This makes them have a pessimistic view on other people’s beliefs and anything that doesn’t already line up with what they know. An optimistic person will be more willing to listen to you and see things from your point of view.
15. When It Comes To Relationships
Another great way to see the difference between optimistic and pessimistic people is to look at their relationships. Optimistic people are uplifting and have strong and happy relationships. They tend to surround themselves with like-minded people who are positive and full of fun. Pessimistic people drag down other people and usually end up being surrounded by unhappy people because of that. They also tend to surround themselves with like-minded people who enjoy complaining and being negative. You can often tell whether they are pessimistic or optimistic, just by being in their presence.
For instance, you will find yourself drawn to an optimistic person who authentically smiles and appreciates you. They will have positive energy coming off them, and you will feel better being around them. Alternatively, you will find yourself wanting to get away from a pessimistic person. Their energy will feel dense, and it will exhaust you and make you feel sad or negative.