Mind Soul

Characteristics of an Optimist vs. a Pessimist

The pessimist might say, “How dreary, it’s raining,” while the optimist might say, “Thank goodness for this rain; the plants and flowers need it.”

Here are a few of the differences between an optimist and a pessimist:

Optimist Traits

  • Sees a problem as a challenge
  • Has a “can-do” attitude
  • Laughs and smiles frequently
  • Has a positive upbeat disposition
  • Expects all to work out for the best
  • Is determined to succeed

Pessimist Traits

  • Sees a problem as a catastrophe
  • Questions their own abilities
  • Does not laugh and smile much
  • Has a negative, bitter disposition
  • Expects things to go wrong
  • Gives up easily

How to Spot A Pessimist

You will know a pessimist right from the start; however, in some cases, the pessimist’s negativity might be a bit more subtle. Sometimes it may take time to wonder exactly what it is about a person that makes you uneasy. Sometimes a pessimist will come out blatantly and drop their negativity like a bomb. Other times, you walk away feeling worse than when you first encountered the pessimist, but not quite sure why.

A pessimist sometimes also uses sarcasm and wit to disguise their cynicism. It may be a need for bolstering their own self-esteem to make sarcastic comments under the guise of wit. It is also possible they are pessimistic about everything in life – theirs, yours, and everyone else’s.

How to Spot an Optimist

An optimist is different than a Pollyanna type personality. A Pollyanna type personality sees everything with rose-colored glasses; everything is wonderful – even the not-so-wonderful aspects of life.

An optimist tends to have a more positive energy and aura. Whenever you are around an optimist, you walk away feeling better than when you first encountered the optimist. They are always finding the lighter side of things, are more jovial, laugh and smile more.

Even in the face of adversity, an optimist can say, “Look at this challenge in front of me; I can’t wait to find a creative solution.” A pessimist will waste time and energy complaining, whining, and feeling sorry for themselves rather than look for that creative solution.

Optimism as A Way of Being

An optimist by nature is born with a positive, upbeat temperament. It could stem from a lovely upbringing, a genetic predisposition, great childhood, or all the above.

Optimism as A Strategy

An optimist may also be an ordinary individual who chooses to be optimistic. It is a conscious effort moment by moment in their everyday lives. He/she may be in tune with spirituality, consciousness, or is a seeker of knowledge and wisdom. Being optimistic is a possibility he/she has created for themselves by making a conscious choice to do and be so.

A pessimist might be aware of the power of choice to change his/her attitude to a more positive demeanor. However, they choose to remain the same. The sound of their own voice complaining, feeling sorry for themselves, or getting attention for their woeful tales is enough to keep them satisfied.

Thankfully, optimism is a learned habit. A pessimistic type personality can learn how to be optimistic and put the practices of positive thinking to work in their lives. With a bit of effort and consciously choosing the lighter side of situations and circumstances, a pessimist can learn the skills, habits, and traits of being more optimistic. They simply must choose to.


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