Corvida Raven

Community Catalyst, TED Conferences

This conversation is closed.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic, and why?

Yesterday, during Session 2 of TED University at TEDGlobal 2011, host June Cohen asked: Are you optimistic or pessimistic. and why? and asked for answers of one sentence.

Since there is a little more room (and time) for writing on TED Conversations, answer in 1-3 sentences whether you are optimistic or pessimistic, and why.

Closing Statement from Corvida Raven

Thank you all for your responses! This was a great Conversation. The TED team is happy to know that the majority of our audience has a relatively positive outlooks on life. We appreciate your participation everyone!

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    Jul 20 2011: It's all about the journey not the destination.
  • Jul 17 2011: i'm optimistic about the end of the human race!!
    because then this incredible amazing world will have a chance to repair the damage we have done and are still doing.
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      Jul 17 2011: Sharon,

      Do you believe that there is a limit to how much damage earth can take before it becomes irreparable? If not, we don't have to rush it right?
      • Jul 17 2011: If we get down into the chemistry, its all just atoms, so really none of it matters right?
        hydrogen atom here, carbon atom there....

        This planet will be around long after we humans have gone, the state we leave it in is questionable at this point, its not looking good, for any forms of life,because, unfortunately as well as being in a rush to poison ourselves to death we are killing the rest of the amazing biodiversity with us.

        Humans have this funny idea that they are in control, rather than a part of a bigger system of cosmic events, its inevitable that we will go extinct, and the planet will change into something else, time does not exist, being in a rush or not -is irrelevant for the fate of the human race.
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          Jul 18 2011: There was a book written recently about nature's ability to repair itself. (Can't quite remember what the title was - saw the author interviewed on The Daily Show).

          An example he gave was that if humans abandoned NYC and left it to nature, it would take relatively little time for nature to take back the land. Nature is the most powerful thing on this planet. Unless or until earth is obliterated by something celestial,I think humans will continue to evolve as a species, staying one step ahead of disaster, and become one with nature again but in a way we can't even imagine.
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          Jul 18 2011: "This planet will be around long after we humans have gone"

          George Carlin says the exact same sentence in one of his shows!

          You're right, it's we that will be going away, not the planet.
        • Jul 19 2011: Yes, humans will go extinct if nothing is being done now to reverse the damages humans caused to this earth. I think the earth will collapse first before humans if we continue to excavate all the earth minerals like oil, gold etc and trees chopped down for more developments causing the earth to be very imbalance and "feverish". The premature ending of the world is mostly caused by errors & negligence of humans.
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      Jul 17 2011: I would like to see us humans repairing some of the damage we've done RIGHT NOW!
      • Jul 17 2011: That said,
        I am also optimistic about the RIGHT NOW, I just wish more people understood what right now means. Colleen i'm interested, how are you helping to repair damage, or stop further damage in your life.
        Lets start waking people up to the right now.....
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          Jul 17 2011: Hi Sharon,
          If you scroll down in this thread, I've mentioned in another comment, some of the things I've done to help change our world.

          That said, this is the little space I occupy in my tiny part of the world:>) I grow my own food, herbs, flowers, tropicals, etc., creating a peaceful, sustainable environment, which is open to the public:>) I give LOTS of plants away and have created several "garden addicts", while hopefully educating people
          http://smugdud.smugmug.com/Quintessential%20Vermont
        • Jul 18 2011: The Past is gone the Future might not come so all we really have are tiny segments of RIGHT NOW. There goes another one and another one...
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          Jul 18 2011: I agree Stephen...the past is gone by...the future is not yet a reality...the only moment we have is NOW.
        • Jul 18 2011: I think when we talk about the future; it means we should prepare ourselves enough to just take the physical decision in the moment of NOW.
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        Jul 19 2011: Colleen. Wow. Thanks for sharing such beautiful pics and a view into your world.
        Gene Evangelist
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    Jul 16 2011: I think it depends on personality. In general, for some optimism works better and for some pessimism . But I guess if one is far too optimistic or pessimistic, that does do any good.
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    Jul 16 2011: Hi Colleen,

    I appreciate you comments and full explanations.And I would also like to thank to you for your individual contributions simply to make the life more livable for those who are not as lucky as the rest in terms of what they are given in their life.
    I have long been helping to the kids with from the poor families usually around me with their lessons.Although this is what I do for living, I am careful not to charge for my services for those who can not spare a cent extra for their educational improvement.I always call this a very modest action but I also believe if we who have anything to pass the others should do it regardless of any excuses.
    I am glad to have such a share with you that makes the whole point meaningful
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      Jul 16 2011: Hi Harun,
      I'm thankful to have this opportunity to share with you as well. The question you asked is a good one..."Is there suffiicent action" to change those situations in our world that are not desirable? Sometimes, it feels overwelming when we look at the big picture. I try to be aware of everything that is happening in our world, and with my optimism, focus on the very tiny changes I may be contributing to. I agree that if we have anything to share with others, it is important to do so. With our small actions, we not only help others, but we help ourselves as well, because we are all connected...in my humble opinion. I am glad to hear you are teaching children, because they are our future, and there is a great opportunity with children to help change destructive patterns in our world. Thank you for what you do, and I am optimistic that you are contributing a LOT by helping to educate children.
    • Jul 18 2011: hey Harun,
      would love more info on where you work and what exactly you are doing.
      I'm finding as many activists around the globe as I can to try to connect them and works with them on our common goals...
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    Jul 16 2011: Optimist.
    Everything will work itself out in the end.
    If it hasn't yet, it's not the end.
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      Jul 16 2011: "It's not the end". I love it!
    • Jul 16 2011: Unfortunately there are a lot of things that end badly but nice little statement sir.
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    Jul 15 2011: Definitely Optimistic, Why? Because it works way better than pessimism. If we are going to change the world, then how on earth can we afford to be pessimistic. Optimism just works way better than pessimism.
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    Jul 15 2011: I am going to beat around the bush rather than simply saying `I am optimistic` or `I am pessimistic`. As I say so, I feel like I have got my many reasons.Allow me to put them in an order combined with question marks:-As we all are aware of the wars going on in many countries, can we still be optimistic about the world`s future?-Global warming? Climate change? Disappearing of many species? Do we have right to consume the future`s generations` right to live in a friendly envoronment in all conditions? Or sould we just turn a blind eye on what is really going on and call ourselves optimistic?-Can anyone tell me that the latest natural disasters cannot be related to the damage we have done to the mother nature simply for the sake of power and money in particular? Still optimistic??/-Why do all those big chaps gather in summits and always try to fool us with the title of the summits: "Kyoto Protocol", " Copenhagen Climate Conference", "United Nations Millennium Development Goals",so on and on..As the space is is limited here, let me ask a very simple question.Are we just trying to be optimistic about our personal issues? Then what do we do when the whole world with its all serious problems are concerned? And here is the whole point:Pessimistic when ethics interfere in our believes lives and habits,etc. and optimistic when helpless..
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      Jul 15 2011: Dear Harun,
      You bring up some good points. Being optimistic to me does NOT mean to "just turn a blind eye on what is really going on...". It means being part of the solutions to the challenges we face in our world today. As I said in a comment below, optimists generally are looking for solutions, and what we focus on expands. When we focus on all the "serious problems", we give the problems energy to exist. When we can evaluate the challenges with a heart and mind leaning toward solutions, that is what we may create:>)
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        Jul 15 2011: I am very Ok with the idea of being the part of the solutions but does everyone really mean when he/she says he/she is optimistic...As far as I am concerned when there is a challenge ahead of us then we examine our ability, motivation,energy and time altogether in order to deal with it.and if we feel we can over come to the so called challenge then we feel that we are optimistic.because we see a light in the end of the tunnel...enough action and we are happy...but let`s have another look at the points I have mentioned before...is there sufficent action??
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          Jul 15 2011: Hi Harun,
          I cannot speak for everyone...we can only speak for ourselves as individuals, don't you think? I agree with you that it is up to each of us as individuals to examine our ability, motivation, energy and time, in order to deal with challenges. You ask..."is there sufficent action"??

          Personally, I've volunteered my time, ability, motivation and energy, working in a shelter for women and children and a family center, working with incarcerated offenders, working with children in state custody because of being abused in their homes, and in a terminal care facility, caring for people who were dying. Served on the rescue squad and am on the town emergency management team. Served on the local and regional Planning Commissions, development review board, policy and project review comm. regional transportation advisory committee and the brownfields comm. (evaluates toxic sites for clean-up and re-development). I've seen results, and as you say...the light in the end of the tunnel.

          These are some of the things I've done to create action in the space I occupy on this earth, to help improve it just a little. How about you? How have you contributed to improving the points you mention above?
        • Jul 18 2011: Hi Harun

          I understand how you may feel. I won't re post my comments from "10 Million Human March" because it is pretty long. I numbered it 1-8 if you do take a look but the point is that I believe it to be impossible yet I am still an optimist.

          I know from the last two years of experience that my hypersensitivity to the destruction all over this world coupled with the lack of empathy from it seems like everyone was causing complications with my friends and family. I also observed that some of the worst symptoms I was feeling were drastically reduced when I saw what other people were doing to fix the problems.

          If this describes your state, I get it. Daniel Dennett on TED said to find true happiness "Find a cause greater than yourself and dedicate your life to it."

          Its probably hogwash but I do feel better.
      • Jul 19 2011: I just came back from the garden. Me and CSNY. Very nice work, it speaks volumes about you.
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          Jul 19 2011: Thank you Stephen...glad you enjoyed it. I've learned a lot about optimism from mother nature, while working/playing in the gardens. We keep planting seeds and they keep growing, cleaning our environment, producing food, beauty and joy:>)
    • Jul 17 2011: Please remember Martin Luther King Jr.. He was an optimist. He was killed for his optimism but look at the change in just 50 years.
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    Jul 15 2011: Optimistic, because it is much more enjoyable than the alternative:>)
    One of my life philosophies is, if I'm not part of the solution, I'm part of the problem. Optimists are usually more open to finding solutions. What we focus on expands:>)
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    Jul 15 2011: Before I found TED i felt isolated with my thoughts and ideas (pessimistic), now knowing that ALL OF YOU are out there i feel connected and part of something ----- OPTIMISTIC
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      Jul 15 2011: I began to feel a bit optimistic a while before i found TED, I think that's the reason I looked for something, that something turned out to be TED.
      Glad to have you with us Simon!
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        Jul 15 2011: Thanks Jimmy! its interesting that we are all individuals with our own different "speeds", "worries", "hopes" etc. but that there is one sort of common positive and hopeful energy that we share...;-) talk soon
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    Jul 14 2011: Cordiva,

    I'm a born optimist who has learned pessimism through trial and error. Well, actually learned by idealistic errors that have given me lessons in the benefits of occasional well-placed pessimism. Still, optimism prevails as my preferred orientation.

    These days it's less blind optimism, and now more balanced by conscious awareness that hidden negatives can lurk in the periphery.

    Andrea
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      Jul 15 2011: Optimism and idealism are two different things.
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        Jul 15 2011: Jim,

        You're right optimism implies a positive attitude or outlook for outcomes Idealistic is optimism regards ideals and beliefs.

        Andrea
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      Jul 15 2011: Andrea has captured my position on this question perfectly. A lifetime of study and experience has taught me to be more wary but it has not defeated the wellspring of hope that bubbles out of my core.
      Blind optimism was a product of my early naivity but the mature woman has found renewed strength and reasons to be optimistic about our world.
      Goodness, even though it is often divided and conquored short term, is like the sea- it cannot be held back for long.
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        Jul 15 2011: Debra --

        What a lovely metaphor about your optimism being like the sea. Pessimism-promoting barriers can and do emerge. Sometimes for good, if not protective, benefit.

        But I, too, find optimism, like water, seems to emerge from somewhere deeper and more distributed than external conditions can deplete or contain for sustained periods.

        Andrea
    • Jul 16 2011: Agree with all of this.
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    Jul 14 2011: Predominantly optimistic I am as see "half Full Glass". Even in difficult situation look for the silver lining.
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      Jul 14 2011: Look at the glass as always full, the other half is just full of air....
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        Jul 14 2011: I've never heard that before, It's brilliant!
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        Jul 14 2011: That's really great Neil !!!
        I will follow it, from right now onwards all glasses will be full for me.....:)
  • Jul 13 2011: I'm optimistic because I've always believed that the pursuit of success, rather than the actual success, makes a bigger impact on one's life, so if I stay positive, my life will be positive.
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    Jul 13 2011: i'm pessimistic, but i think it is getting better
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    Jul 19 2011: I am optimistic, because to be any other way ignores the human spirit and the incredible contributions to our collective experiences here. We must look to each other for solutions to our problems and solve the ones that we can. Hunger, wars, global warming, etc. require from each of us the optimist outlook and determination.
  • Jul 19 2011: In a world where more than half are starving, killing, been oppresed and abused; and also there is a quarter which are continuosly stressed, living only for ourselves, thinking in money and power, no matter the rest of mankind, it´s a really hard question to answer
  • Jul 18 2011: Whether you are optimistic or pessimistic largely depends on your age. If you are young, you will probably be optimistic about the future, but if you are old you are more likely to be pessimistic. Cynicism comes with age, I think almost universally.
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      Jul 18 2011: Well Peter, I think that a large percentage of the optimists on this page are middle aged or better. Optimism is a function of several characteristics and can be correleated with age for some people but not for others. I am over 50 and consider myself an optimist.
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        Jul 19 2011: Debra. I agree with you. What tends to happen in life is as people grow old they have encounters which can leave many people feeling negative. We all have these up and down times. But the true optimist sees these things as learning experiences and moves on with a lesson not a residue of pessimism.
        Gene Evangelist
      • Jul 19 2011: I think it might be useful to give some quotations here. They are from Ambrose Bierce.
        OPTIMISM, n. The doctrine, or belief, that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is held with greatest tenacity by those most accustomed to the mischance of falling into adversity, and is most acceptably expounded with the grin that apes a smile. Being a blind faith, it is inaccessible to the light of disproof—an intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.
        PESSIMISM, n. A philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile.
        It's important to remember that the pessimist will always be right in the end because we will all die eventually. I have to admit though, that optimists will probably have a better journey through life.
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          Jul 19 2011: those definitions are much too extreme to address what most people view as pessimistic or optimistic. I am an optimist, but I do not believe "everything right that is wrong" or am driven by "blind faith". I happen to be extremely practical and logical in my thinking and faith is rarely part of my views. However, I do believe that your life is what you make of it and if you want to be a depressing, pessimistic person then go ahead, but do not go and make the assumption that optimists are driven by blind faith and a belief that everything in the world is "good".
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          Jul 20 2011: Dear Peter, Anything written by anyone, worthy or unworthy, can be quoted. Having lived a full life with some terrible episodes and some great ones, I still see the good in this world clearly. I think that makes me an optimist. I have stared evil in the eyes, I have loved and lost, I have had cancer and still I am not defeated because of the beauty that I see everywhere around me. The ugly and the evil are there and often they are powerful. However, I know, not just think but know that there are millions of people who want to just get through life kindly, loving, helping their kids and neighbours to have better lives. There are more good guys than bad guys and that keeps me optimistic.All pessimists are welcome to their view. I just inist that mine is valid too- based on experience and overcoming.
        • Jul 20 2011: very wrong quotes im not old but that is optimistic doesn't mean you got to be happy on everything what happens, this is more like to say "god will punish them" and just leave...
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    Jul 18 2011: Pessimistic: In 1950, at age ten, five years after the greatest war in history that the good guys won, there was an outpouring of futuristic optimism. Sure, we had Communism to deal with, but technology was burgeoning and the book burners were defeated. It's turned out that we didn't need to burn books, they could be eliminated by tabloid journalism and partisan slogans, that have defined our culture by their ubiquity and simplicity. There is no metric on the decline of engaging conversation on a personal and public level, but for those who remember a different time, it's undeniable.
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      Jul 18 2011: a time with sperate drinking fountains?
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        Jul 19 2011: Separate drinking fountains existing in the southern states, only. The cultural changes over the last 60 years in this country have been profound. Why in the world would you point to Jim Crow laws, when there were vast differences in gender roles, sexual mores, and most everything that defines a society.

        I was referring to depth of intellectual engagement. Television had actual dialog among those of different values, they were not on separate stations, but actually talked to each other. And scores of cafeterias in midtown Manhattan had tables full of workers, spending long hours debating politics, who actually went beyond the current partisan venom. Maybe you had to have been there.
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    Jul 18 2011: what drives a person to be pessimestic or optimisstic ? Can someone provide some information ?
    • Jul 18 2011: It is the information.

      Usually if you don’t have complete information for the decision, it drives you to become pessimistic or too optimistic to take that decision. So the more information you have on positive and negative side of every decision, is the complete information for the right decision.
  • Jul 16 2011: A pessimist is an optimist with experience. 'Nuff said.
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    Jul 16 2011: Optimistic.

    Optimistic people have fun and live longer.
    Gene Evangelist
    • Jul 17 2011: Unless they are so happy they don't see the car coming.

      I am just kidding. I crack myself up.
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        Jul 17 2011: Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused:>)
  • Comment deleted

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      Jul 16 2011: Dear Karthik,
      Is it "wrong"? Or is it different? You make an interesting point, and it is important to know ourselves to know what works and what doesn't work for us:>)

      "Life begets life,
      Energy Creates energy,
      It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich".
      (Sarah Bernhardt)

      I agree with you..
      If we know ourselves, and know that calling ourselves optimistic motivates us to action, then we are "spending" our energy appropriately.
      If we know ourselves, and know that calling ourselves pessimistic, motivates us to action, then we are "spending" our energy equally as well...thanks for that reminder:>)
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      Jul 16 2011: It's just different choices to be optimistic or pessimistic and it's like comparing different flavors of ice-cream. Everyone has the free will and both traits serve different functions to us. It's okay as long as we're working towards one goal ultimately - to improve.

      I choose to be optimistic because to me, it is faith/believe that leads to success and makes life "purposeful" (endorphines maybe?). I'm atheistically spiritual. Some say it is trials and errors that lessen optimism - I'm still young and haven't yet gone through that much - but I would always choose to stick to what brings out the best in me, and that is constructive optimism. : )
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    Jul 16 2011: Indeed, Im an optimistic..
    Being an optimistic, we experience within ourselves and spread around- a POSITIVE ENERGY...
    Which leads us to the Success...
  • Jul 16 2011: I am optimistic because optimists are winners. Pessimists are losers because:

    I can do it vs I can’t do it
    Open to new experiences vs Closed and fearful
    Things could be better vs Things could be worse
    Falls, but gets up again vs Falls, and stays down
    Learns from mistakes vs Repeats same mistakes
    Takes responsibility vs Blames others
  • Jul 15 2011: I'm optimistic because there are so many examples not only of human ingenuity and great accomplishments but more importantly of the empathy which allows us to relate to each other and strive to better this world for each other.
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    Jul 15 2011: As bright-eyed, internal and eternal optimists, it's really easy to be affected--or should I say "infected"--by the world of cynics that co-exists with us. Optimists are often perceived as naive, gullible, immature or inexperienced. Although there may be a level of truth to this, there is another level of optimism with those who have gotten to the sincere belief in sincere belief--not through naivety but through life-revelations. (http://rannykang.blogspot.com/2010/11/sincere-belief.html)
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      Jul 15 2011: Ranny,
      YES!!! We have CHOICE:>)
      Good article...thanks:>)
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    Jul 15 2011: I am a probabilist(statistician)!! that's what Hans Rosling said, and I will say!
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    Jul 14 2011: First off, I must say I was pessimistic for a long time....but now I would answer optimistic. My reasoning is simple, life is too short to spend time wasted on negative energy. Life should be enjoyable and lived to it's fullest.
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    Jul 14 2011: The nature of this question invites me to choose teams. I prefer to think of myself as the caterer that supplies sandwiches to both, after the match..
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    Jul 13 2011: reflecting a bit what Jimmy wrote:

    I am pessimistic about our future because we let ourselves be led and governed by people that very often claim to be elites but do not act like elites should act like beeing a good example, taking responsibility for others and the environment...etc etc

    I am optimistic because (as Jimmy wrote) it seems, as we see/feel on TED, the people (positive elites) wake up and realise that they have to do something and take back control over our planet and not get shmoozed into money/consumption/power greed...

    My optimism is also activated my seeing that people from different disciplines interact and share their knowledge and their strength to put it together to solve problems and make our future better
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      Jul 13 2011: I am optimistic that we will grow tired of 'being led' and commit to governing ourselves as a global village.
  • Jul 20 2011: I am a pessimist because I was raised that way.
  • Jul 20 2011: Is my glass half full or hallf empty? It doesnt matter because Its half empty.
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    Jul 20 2011: Hi Corvida Raven
    Either we say there are no such things as miracles or else everything we witness in life is miraculous. I believe that that is our choice in every moment. In order to thrive, from the level of our cells to the level of our biosphere, we must choose optimism and focus on the best possible outcomes for any and all situations.

    If things are seemingly going well, we can still improve our opportunities for thrivability while celebrating what we have. If things are not going well, we still owe it to ourselves to do the best we can with what we have.

    Death be not proud (John Donne)
    Hope springs eternal in the human breast (Alexander Pope)
    True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings;
    Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings (Shakespeare's Richard III)

    So I am an incurable optimist.
    Mark
  • Jul 20 2011: (my first time on the website here,!} is the optimistic-pessimistic 2-choice or a scle? dependent on your personality tendencies (genetic), &/or your experience? a choice, or an automatic reaction? (and I'm listing 2-choice questions! hah!) the situation will influence the answer, or are you asking about "in general, over your lifetime so far..." or how we identify? i haven't had a chance toread the other resonses yet, not look at the videos related to the question yet. but hope that a time limit on the "conversation" is just for responses, and will still be here when i have time tomorrow to see the things posted by others! (have not had time to look up how everything works here,yet, either!) it's a fascinating subject. i'm not sure (no scientist), but i think a strong tendency may be hardwired into some people by their genes. i think of myself as neither -- that optimistic would be unrealistic, and pessimistic rather depressing. i prefer to think i am concerned but hopeful.... (not having faith everything will turn out ok, but working toward the possibilities of better..)
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    Jul 19 2011: My opinion:

    Pessimism is the root of all failure
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    Jul 19 2011: I'm ultimately an optimist, but I really resent people pushing optimism on me, as if being pessimism was some sort of crime. It's that "Smile!" or "Just think positively!" philosophy that makes me cringe. It's SO overly simplistic. It's alright to feel angry. It's alright to experience negative emotions. People's discomfort with that concept is so strange to me.
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      Jul 20 2011: I agree, the optimism shouldn't just be for optimism's sake. I used to feel as though I had to choose between two extremes: happy and useless or unhappy and worthwhile, but nothing in the world is that black and white, is it? I think I'm heading toward a better middle ground now where I try to do my best to educate myself about what's morally right and worth valuing today but not just stopping there, but going the extra mile and actually ACTING on it, without letting myself become discouraged when it doesn't feel like I'm being appreciated or recognized for my efforts. After all, it's not about getting noticed for doing good, it's about knowing that you're truly acting on the behalf of what you actually believe is right in the world rather than what you think will get you the most short term material gains.

      And with negative emotions, I think of them merely as reminders that everything bad in the world isn't simply erased with a smile, but in order for those negative emotions to be overcome, you have to conquer the source of them, whether that be in the form of some internal struggle with laziness or an external struggle with someone or some group who acts in a way that you deem harmful to the world in some way.
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      Jul 20 2011: Beth,
      I agree...I don't like anything pushed on me either. You're right...it's ok to feel angry and experience all emotions. I think we can experience all emotions and still be optimistic, and/or pessimistic. As so many insightful people have pointed out on this thread, optimism AND pessimism can co-exist.

      I agree Jordan...nothing in the world is that black and white. Balance, or middle ground is ALWAYS desirable, in my perception. For me, there are no "negative emotions". All emotions are valuable, and can teach us something about ourselves when/if we're willing to learn...don't you think? If we can learn from our emotions, how can they be negative? Perhaps it is our perception of certain emotions that "color" them? I have had more success with understanding all aspects of emotions, rather than trying to "conquer" them:>)
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    Jul 19 2011: I think I become pessimistic when it seems like my efforts don't make a difference in the world and it seems like I'm wasting my energy. In contrast, I think I become optimistic from either internal motivation which results from my desire to make changes happen, or from hearing a piece of good news which gives me a reason to hope for the future. Basically, I think it comes down to whether you want to turn yourself into a) a pessimistic victim OF the world or b) an optimistic source of positive change IN the world.

    If you don't believe that anything you do makes a difference in the world, then of course that kind of depressing, helpless thinking will make you a pessimist, but I think it's that kind of thinking which infects hundreds of millions of people until we get the kind of nihilistic, apathetic, and detached civilization we have today. On the other hand, in the face of adversity, every individual taking responsibility for him or herself and their actions and realizing that change doesn't happen overnight is the only way that worldwide change has ever and will ever occur.

    Mainly, I consider myself an optimistic environmentalist who seriously regards climate change as a huge problem which is only made worse by widespread denialism, complacency, and inaction in our society, so I've gone through a lot of effort to change my life in many ways to follow through with my values. I've switched to a vegan diet, I buy local food as much as possible, I only travel long distances by bus and I bike as much as possible rather than drive my car to minimize my carbon dioxide pollution, I take short showers and turn off the water in the shower unless I'm rinsing off shampoo or soap, and I go out to restaurants and the movies as sparingly as possible because of the polluting practices involved with those types of businesses.

    The way I see it, if I don't take responsibility and make changes in my own life, I don't have the right to expect anyone else to make changes in theirs.
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    Jul 19 2011: A friend once told me I have "the positive psychosis" I think this is a good thing. I am optimistic because I am. I still love and appreciate my pain and those who are pessimistic. I restate I am optimistic, because I am. And, being is good...for me!
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    Jul 19 2011: Have got 2 quotes on subject “Optimist is the one who thinks bullshit is a fertilizer”“Pessimists are Optimists with experience” after reading this you have a good laugh or you take it seriously may depend on whether you are an optimist or pessimist.
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      Jul 19 2011: Taking something seriously does not mean you're a pessimist. (IF, that's what you're suggesting. I cannot be sure since you use those ambiguous words: "may depend.")
    • Jul 19 2011: You can think of it this way:
      If you're pessimistic, then you're always either right or pleasantly surprised.
  • Jul 19 2011: Also, considerer that the humanity have been in war since exists, showing no respect for the human race and with increased levels of violence and unconsious
  • Jul 19 2011: Optimist, I always do my best to promote the idea of solutions. Something can always be done, but are we always willing to try it? The solution is rarely the simplest or easiest way to go, but it usually works.
  • Jul 19 2011: Optimistic, I believe that all people are, at heart righteous.
  • Jul 18 2011: I know there is a lot wrong but aren't we alive during a time when humans are living longer, fewer infant mortality rates (not equal everywhere but higher everywhere) more information, less violence ( I know that seems hard to believe but the Dark Ages are almost gone). What do you think Corvida? I mean optimist or pessimist?
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    Jul 18 2011: (Edited, to better reflect my thoughts)

    I'm pessimistic that our society cannot revert back to simpler times. We are on an ever-accelerating mad race to get nowhere. Our political, economic and trade systems show that, and our consumerist mentality is feeding the frenzy.

    I'm pessimistic that we can never stabilize human population, proportionate to the resources available.

    I'm optimistic that people will gradually "wake up" to the "really real" reality.

    I'm optimistic that the optimists will come up with ideas to change the world just to show the pessimists that change is possible. However, I'm pessimistic about the number of pessimists going down.
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      Jul 18 2011: there is no time where life has been simple.
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        Jul 19 2011: why not? what about the time when we had the barter system :-) or when we grew our own food, so we didn't have to work in offices to earn "money" to buy food.
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          Jul 19 2011: Yes that worked, but what do you think got us here? People were not able to grow every food they may want on their land. People want variety, and variety is only cheap when consumerism takes place. And you are telling me that using a barter system is "simpler" than searching an item on amazon, finding the lowest price, and clicking buy? I find that a little hard to believe.
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        Jul 19 2011: Seriously, I think the barter system went away because they didn't have a common commodity to use to exchange their goods in case the other person didn't want their goods. But other than that, the processes were simpler.

        When you talk about ordering stuff off of amazon, it's only simple for you :) Think about the complex background processes and systems that need to be maintained. The internet, web maintenance, huge servers, miles upon miles of cable under the ocean, huge network of transportation systems - road, air and sea.

        I think the networks began when people started getting greedy to get better profits in the next town or the neighboring country. Greed is good, but only to a certain extent. Because without greed, we wouldn't have all the development, but too much of it leads to unestimated energy consumption, and before we know it we are out of it, and in search of alternative sources too late. Well, the actual economics is obviously more complicated, and I don't know too much.

        You could read "Economics in One Lesson" by Henry Hazlitt, It's considered a classic, and it's available online for free. There he gives an example about a broken glass window. It's an expense for the baker, but it doen't generate new employment, because it's only a replacement. The book does a very nice job of explaining.
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          Jul 20 2011: Well isn't that what so many careers now entail? To make human lives easier and to assist us as much as we can? The definition of a mechanical engineer is roughly to design and produce mechanical systems that allow less work to be done by humans and more by machine.
          All this hard work has paid off. The networking we have in the world today is amazing!! I mean, look at this site alone. On it, we can view videos of people around the world instantly, we can talk and communicate on these conversation boards with people across the world in India, Iran, Russia, ect..
          The complexity of our society has opened up so many opportunities of knowledge and understanding, I cannot imagine it being a good to want to reduce our knowledge and communication of sake of simplicity.
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      Jul 19 2011: Dear Abhiram,
      Are we on an accelerated path to NOWHERE? Or NOW HERE?
      Being an optimist, I tend to think we are learning more about how to be NOW HERE:>)
      Sometimes, we need to experience the "frenzy" that stirs the pot, for us to realize what is important?
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        Jul 19 2011: Hi Colleen,
        The frenzy usually consumes us and we become like cartoon characters: Tom chasing Jerry, and Elmer Fudd hunting down Bugs Bunnies, and Ducks and Rabbits squabbling.

        I sometimes wonder what would happen if we were to slow down production to 50% of present-day. Businesses would run slower, with lower profit margins, people would have to wait longer to get a new iPod, etc. So what?
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        Jul 19 2011: Colleen,

        Are you really actually inviting me to come visit your gardens in Vermont? Because if I get in you can't get me out of there for days!! :-)

        Beautiful, magnificent work, Colleen. Do you do all the gardening yourself (I'm guessing you do have help, it looks like a really huge place)?

        Also, I guess I was being overly pessimistic. When we realize that we're pessimistic, then we begin to get optimistic about doing something to bring about change. If we're optimistic all the time then we might not even realize there is something wrong and it needs to change.
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          Jul 20 2011: I like this bit at the end: "When we realize that we're pessimistic, then we begin to get optimistic about doing something to bring about change. If we're optimistic all the time then we might not even realize there is something wrong and it needs to change." Well-put. Once you veer to far to either side, you realize the wisdom in the opposite approach and begin to lean once again to the sanity near the middle.
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          Jul 20 2011: Dear Abhiram,
          It would be a pleasure to have you visit the gardens. In the moment I sent you the link, I was inviting you to "come to the gardens" by way of the photos AND you are always welcome in person as well:>)

          The "place" is only 7/10 of an acre, but HUGE in many other ways...know what I mean? I have had help from my brothers and friends installing the fountains, ponds and larger features. Once in awhile friends come to "play" in the gardens...mostly, I maintain them myself, and enjoy every moment of the process:>)

          I can see how both optimistic and pessimistic may motivate people to create change. Personally, I've always seen the silver lining and light at the end of the tunnel. I have been accused of living in a fantasy world...not facing reality. I ask whose reality? If I can help create a reality that is more pleasing, more respectful of all people and our environment...then it is a fantasy I want to help spread...an idea worth sharing...in my humble opinion:>)
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    Jul 18 2011: hi Sharon,
    I am a self-employed teacher.live in istanbul.But would you please tell me for what purpose you connect the the activists more importantly there are variety of activists so which ones do you mean in particula?Further more I would like to know what kind of activities you demonstrate..
    best regards,
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    Jul 18 2011: I strive to feel neither,..for neither approach suggests a solution only how to feel about a problem.
    These notions induce foresight. they force us to recompile all information and try to make an educated guess, then based on this guess you decide whether you "feel " good or bad about what might happen( according to you), besides, we all know how good humans are at predicting the future....
    How a person Feels does not change what needs to be Done.
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    Jul 18 2011: Both, because all people at times are both optimistic and pessimistic.

    Do I feel I am more one than another?

    Yes, depending on the topic I will think realistically or I will think idealistically. Often more than not I think myself to be an idealist-realist. Realism is very pessimistic at times, no nonsense! But idealism allows imagination to be acceptable in debate, optimistic nonsense!
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    Jul 18 2011: Optimism is our natural state. we were born with the ability to see the beauty, love and joy on this planet. if one is not optimistic, you may ask what or who is blocking my view.
    Go natural.
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    Jul 18 2011: At heart an optimist, vocally I probably come across as a pessimist - my defensive nature is pessimistic but when I am comfortable around people I let them into my optimist nature!
  • Jul 18 2011: I think we should find out what value pessimism has so we could take and add to optimism leading to a realistic –optimism.
  • Jul 17 2011: Pessimism is a persistent unwanted guest. It also seems like a bad joint that you fight throughout life to ignore. Only we are going to bring the solutions. Pessimism seems more prevalent these days. I have just joined this site, Unoque.Com and one other in hopes to find more solutions.

    If I give in to the pessimism I think I am lost and I am not yet there. I hope.
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    Jul 17 2011: I am optimistic because I think it almost always is the best way to reach the goals we set. Positive thinking may not be perfect but it's the best we have.
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    Jul 17 2011: Both (or neither, depending on your view), but my dominant side is the naive optimist. That's because everything has worked out so far. Both qualities are contagious, of course, and I rather spend time with optimistic people. Who wouldn't, right?

    Personally, I feel being able to be optimistic about solving a problem and yet slightly pessimistic in regards to the results that may come from it grounds me, while it simultaneously engages; continously leaving something in need of improvement. Knowing that I will solve the problem is my optimistic side, contemplating whether or not the solution will be sufficient is my pessimistic side. Stop/Go. Got to have both.
  • Jul 17 2011: Everybody reading and/or contributing to this thread should, if they haven't already, watch Alain de Botton's talk on pessimism and Barbara Ehrenreich's talk on optimism on the School of Life channel on vimeo.com.

    Word of warning, though: any optimists might come away feeling like dicks.
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    Jul 17 2011: Depends on the day really. Sometimes my progressive liberal spirit takes hold, while other times I'm reminded of how stupid we can be. But if Carl Sagan was able to remain optimistic, so can I.
  • Jul 17 2011: yeah this is an other problem.because if u don`t believe in god that`s abviosly pissimism
    • Jul 18 2011: I respect your belief in a deity and please spread optimism with your belief. Also Please respect that it is quite possible that the intense emotion you may feel about your beliefs could simply be just that, an emotion. I will not be dragged into a religious debate here, I am just replying to your thought which won't change so PEACE!!!
  • Jul 17 2011: I am realistic, but slightly leaning toward a positive attitude, if I had to pick a side. I like to get things done. But there is no need to be weighed down by thinking something is just horrible.
  • Jul 17 2011: I'm optimistic. Pessimism is game over and I still have quarters.
  • Jul 16 2011: i am optimistic because life is a gist from our god so we have to be optimistic
  • Jul 16 2011: I am pessimistic. The powers that be are too interested in their own well being to worry about the whole picture. The "so long as it doesn't affect me" mentality has caused the start of global warming that can't be stopped. We are doomed.

    I am optimistic. Humans will still survive and thrive. The cockroach is not king when it comes to survival since humans will even eat cockroaches to survive.

    I am pessimistic. If i have to eat cockroaches, i don't want to survive.
  • Jul 16 2011: I think being realistic is often confused with being pessimistic. That said, to be realistic, you generally have to be pessimistic. Though if I was asked to choose what I am, I would have to say realistic.

    As for the glass half empty... It depends entirely on the preceding circumstances. If it has been emptied to half capacity by someone drinking from it, it's half empty. If someone is filling a glass and only fills it to half way, it's a glass half full.
  • Jul 16 2011: I try to be more of a positive thinker than an optimist.

    What is the difference...?,,, there is .. IMO an optimist is one who believes the things will go right. A positive thinker says the things can go right.
  • Jul 16 2011: Intentionally optimistic. We can and should nurture the principal and the paradigm of "when there is a will there is a way". It becomes a matter of persevering until the way is found...
  • Jul 16 2011: Optimism is productive and allows for growth and creativity so it is important to lean towards optimism. But blind optimism is just foolish and can get people into traps/problems if they don't look ahead and plan for things that can go wrong.

    I think realist, with an optimistic edge is best.
  • Jul 16 2011: I'd like to think that I'm at some sort of healthy balance, but that would be too optimistic.
  • Jul 16 2011: “A pessimist sees only the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn’t see the clouds at all – he’s walking on them.” ~Leonard Louis Levinson
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    Jul 15 2011: Thank you for reading, Colleen!
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    Jul 15 2011: Optimistic. I think I was born that way.
  • Jul 15 2011: I can only say "realism"...
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    Jul 15 2011: optimistic because both are irrational but one is more fun then the other.
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    Jul 15 2011: I'm glad you asked that.
    Why do you want to know?

    Have a good day, if you can.
  • Jul 15 2011: always optimistic!!!
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    Jul 15 2011: Optimistic until the end... And in the end I'm a realist.
  • Jul 15 2011: I am an optimist although some perceive me as a pessimist due to my approach to braking business ideas down to see if i can fail them before we have a go.
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    Jul 15 2011: I become more optimistic after each TED. How can one not be after hearing from such amazing people. if every one would listen to one TED talk a day after listening to a FOX or CNN newscast, they would have a more balanced profile of the world. TEDGlobal talks were a real shot of optimism that the Stuff of Life is still alive and kicking!!
    • Jul 15 2011: I couldn't agree with you more. Since watching TED i am a much more hopeful person. The standard stuff you see on TV and in society can be quite dragging.

      TED brings you back and invigorates you and teaches you what is important again in your life. Helps to put things in perspective of what really matters and what things really don't mater at all!
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    Jul 15 2011: why would I be pessimistic?
    this is the answer if you know what I mean
    I don't know the future, why should I expect the bad
    I have troubles, like anyone else, why would we add more trouble
    trust me, as the famous say "it's OK" didn't come from nowhere
    it has a deep meaning
    it's all about how you see things, you may look at the bad side, though it's always OK, now or later
    it will end up with a good thing, and if we can't see the good now, we can focus more to see it, eventually we will find it
  • Jul 14 2011: I have always considered myself a optimist...My personal philosophy is borderline "She needs therapy" crazy, but it works for me to have an up beat outlook and perspective on life.
  • Jul 14 2011: i always be optimistic on things because of the anxiety and fear and lack of confident sometimes makes me pessimistic. More importantly is we are surrounded by our so called conservative society to led us back and that will certainly defines our view on things.
  • Jul 14 2011: I think it is the result of optimism that we have so many inventions and people of that time started that dispite of appearing to them impossible.
  • Jul 14 2011: For me, it really depends on the situation. Overall, I tend to be somewhat optimistic about the future of our society (or just delusionally hopeful).
    In everyday life, I tend to be more of a realistic person, good or bad.
    i.e. half-full or half-empty, I'll take whatever is in that glass. :D
  • Jul 14 2011: beeing optimist is feeling the blood running in your veins, is remembering the laugh and cry of a baby, the pessimistic side is the deception in some human faiths,belivings and facts, all of them could cast a shadow in our lives.
  • Jul 14 2011: I live and work in Greece, how can i be an optimistic pls any ideas
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      Jul 14 2011: is there any feeling of solidarity in ur area/town or country coming out of this? if yes this would be a very positive thing! all the best!
    • Jul 15 2011: Ela re! The whole Western world is about to go bust so you can look at Greece as first to go in and first to come out. Then the Greeks can watch the rest of the world thinking that they are glad that they went first.

      You may think i am joking :) but actually i am not. Read my blog stavsworld.com and if you like more click the about button to take you to the socionomics institute.

      Being an optimist, i actually look forward to this great impending shake up. It will help society realise that we got very disconnected to what it means to be human. Money is just an idea that we thought up and one day I am hopeful that society will rid itself of it. (Think Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek : The next generation and how replicators replaced the need for money)
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        Jul 15 2011: Hi Stavros, i still did not look at your blog, but i absolutely agree with you. As some people with a broad understanding (the financial crisis is just one aspects that accompanies the environmental and psychological (purpose) crisis on our planet) understand that the money system is a big and already global PONZI SHEME, it is clear that this sheme will end, and as Stavros writes the earlier you are out the lower the pain...for German speaking people I suggest to look for a Prof. Brodbeck comments on this. He is a engineer, economist, philosopher and budhist and has a very deep understanding on this. For all others i still look for an english speaking version of Prof. Brodbeck.
        • Jul 17 2011: Thanks for that info Simon. The buddhists of the world seem to be having the greatest understanding from ancient teachings as i am starting to believe.

          I must look int o Buddhism some more.

          I will try to look up some of Prof Brodbecks comments also, but my german is limited.
    • Jul 15 2011: @Fotis: u can be an optimist by motivating yourself......by reading autobiographies etc. but the most important thing is that u must believe in yourself by thinking that u can do anything you want to do!!!!! always look on the bright side of your life irrespective of the good or bad things in life!!!
    • Jul 17 2011: NONE but do not give up! Post the problems on TED and ask for help. As a collective we can figure something out.
    • Jul 18 2011: you have a european union passport.... go live somewhere else in Europe, you have a choice
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    Jul 14 2011: I'm optimistic when I'm not pessimistic but sometimes when I'm feeling optimistic I see some things that suddenly make me pessimistic.
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    Jul 14 2011: Even though we seem to be wronging each other at every turn, I have hope for humanity as a whole. People can do good and I'm very optimistic that we will learn to do right to each other, instead of being greedy and not thinking of others. If it is by technology or by other means, we will succeed and surpass all expectations we have of ourselves. Being a link in a greater chain of a better humanity is something that is very positive and should be a goal of all people.
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    Jul 13 2011: Optimistic!
    Because through/with the help from TED I see the potential the world has despite what all the pessimists say. There will always be people who just see hinders where other see opportunity, here I don't let them strike me down. I stay strong with the help of others.
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    Jul 13 2011: I am both. I tend to be optimistic about possibilities in a situation as well as about the choices in general in front of me, but extremely pessimistic when it comes to change when it's needed, due to people being content with what's in front of them, causing them to be inactive (even if they agree that change is needed and would be better) so long as they aren't directly bothered by it.