Optimist or Pessimist: Which Are You?

I grew up with two parents who were products of the American Depression.  My father Victor Snow was raised in a rural part of Alabama, not too far from where the University of Alabama is located in Tuscaloosa.  His mother and father divorced when he was still young. Dad grew up with one older and one younger sister and his mother, my paternal grandmother, Sarah Snow.  My dad’s family didn’t have much wealth or material possessions but they endured the Depression era with a lot of love for each other.  Dad was super intelligent and earned scholarships in engineering to Rice and eventually MIT where he met my mom on a blind date.

My mother Suzanne was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Harvard and MIT are located.  She grew up in bedroom communities outside Boston, namely Wellesley and Needham.  Mom attended the Choate School for Girls and later Needham High School, and she could have easily attended college if she had chosen.  Her extended family had wealth and provided much material comfort to mom, if not always emotional support.  I don’t believe mom suffered much through the American Depression, certainly not like my dad may have suffered, though he never talked about it.  Here’s the thing: my parents were eternal optimists, especially my dad.  I never saw my parents ever down or depressed about anything.  They had challenges, what with four sons and one very dutiful daughter (that’s me!)  A few of my brothers gave them a run for their money, meaning that they were wild at times, but through it all mom and dad gave us love and support.  I never doubted their love, even though they came from an era when one didn’t always outwardly demonstrate affection.  Whenever anyone asks me about my good nature and optimism, I always credit my parents, my best friends for life.  So read this recent article, “A Richer Life by Seeing the Glass Half Full,” published in the New York Times.  It explains that optimism is a healthier choice.  I believe optimism is also a condition of one’s culture.  I come from a culture that prefers overcoming problems through sheer will and–here’s a key term, stick-to-it-iveness: colloq. (orig. U.S.), defined also as dogged perseverance.

So optimist or pessimist, which are you?  Do you think being one or the other impacts feelings about politics and policies.  Can culture influence a pessimistic or optimistic outcome?

4 thoughts on “Optimist or Pessimist: Which Are You?

  1. Similar to you and your family, I am an optimistic person, too. I strongly believe that being optimistic will help one to overcome many hardships and struggles which one faces in life. However, I was not an optimist when I was a small child, but rather a strong pessimist. It was very easy for me to stay being negative because I did not have to make any efforts to improve conditions. So I kept being pessimistic during my childhood.

    Even though there was a chance in my life to realize that there is no happiness in being pessimistic, it makes me feel depressed when I make any mistakes and embarrassments. After becoming optimistic, I feel I have become much stronger mentally and got a power to overcome any difficulties in life. I believe optimism will help make one’s feeling toward life much easier.

  2. I would like to say I am relatively an optimistic person, but I am more of a pessimist. For example, last week for my Macroeconomics midterm I was not able to answer the problem that counted for 30% of the midterm. I was upset and whining about how I could have studied more, and that now since I have “failed” the midterm I would fail the class as well.

    Being a pessimistic person, whenever I see or read news about politics and policies I can only see the negative side to what they could bring. When Obama became president with the campaign slogan of “Hope” and “Change,” I immediately doubted whether he was able to make “Hope” and “Change” happen during his four years. I assumed he wouldn’t, judging that most presidents never really live up to all of our expectations.

    I think culture can influence pessimistic and optimistic outcomes. Right now in America, the economic depression causing the lack of jobs is influencing the way people think about job hunting. It became difficult for many college graduates to find jobs, and this reality made people more pessimistic towards job hunting. The same case applies in Japan as well. On the other hand, when Japan had the “Bubble” time period, everyone had jobs and getting jobs was so easy. No one ever thought about not being able to have a job once they finished four years of college.

  3. I do not believe that negative thought leads us in a good way. I am an optimistic person. When I have some problem, I always try to have a good image. I think this may be thanks to my parents. They always think about me and try hard to let me find solutions by myself. I think an optimistic person is the one who can think calmly about a solution. When a person is negative, he may not get a solution and may be stuck.

  4. I think to become an optimist, one would have to go through negativities. For example, your mom and dad both suffered from the Great Depression and thus they needed to keep a positive attitude at all times. This way it became a habit for them to have this type of mentality towards society.

    Another way to become an optimist is through parenting. Since your parents are optimists, and they taught you to be one as well, they are basically passing down their mentality to you.

    I think it’s essential to be a optimist, especially regarding politics. Some people get confused that optimism is only to see positive things, but it’s not. Being a optimist is to accept negativities, but always to keep a positive attitude so that the outcome will become positive.

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