The Fine Line Between Pessimism and Optimism

Nobody has the ability to predict how the future will play out, however, you have the ability to control how you pursue your endeavors. According to Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, “optimism is a type of thinking that requires a person to be mindful about his or her future goals” (p.457). As students, we are in complete control of our college education. In the beginning of a semester, the first thing handed out is the course syllabus. I am often not alone to say, when looking through the schedule you often become overwhelmed with how much classwork is awaiting your future. At this moment you have a decision to make. Will you approach this feat with optimism or pessimism? This lingering question will arise with any difficult task assigned, but how it is managed will contribute heavily to the outcome.

A pessimist is the complete opposite of an optimist. The pessimist thought process is more likely to expect poor outcomes. Initially, this can be viewed as negative. Yet, in some occasions this outlook is needed. So, how does one find balance between the two? “Research has strongly suggested optimism contributes to better adjustment in occupational settings” (Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 463). Nobody likes a coworker with a negative outlook and personality. This will affect the performance of everyone associated with them. But pessimist still hold a place within a company. Foreseeing the potential negative outcomes, can help better prepare everyone for the worst-case scenarios.

Personally, I tend to use both types of thinking. An example of this is when I entered boot camp. From the moment I signed my name on the dotted line, I expected the worst. However, I knew upon completion I would be satisfied with the result. This thought process worked in my favor. In hindsight, the overall experience was nowhere near what I actually expected. Drill instructors are there to keep you motivated, and they do a great job in doing so. My advice for anyone considering joining would be to enter bootcamp prepared to embrace the suck, but also know as long as you don’t quit you will get to the finish line.

Schneider, F.W., Gruman J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

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