The Optimist vs the Depressive Realist - Who is the Rational One in the Room?

John McManamy Health Guide October 05, 2013
  • In my seven years of writing about bipolar here on HealthCentral, I have never posted on the topic of optimism. Better late than never ...   “Optimism,” declared Voltaire in Candide, “is the madness of insisting all is well when we are miserable.”   Yet, psychology c...

4 Comments
  • jimmypat
    Oct. 07, 2013

    thanks john, i  share the same driving profile.. you made me laugh, i live in NYC, and try to stay in the outer boroughs ....forget parking. i know the frustration and aniexty is very real and  i let the more positive confident folks drive, i am a realist and past experience tells me let others drive, and they curse and yell while i keep fairly calm....

    RHMLucky777

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    thanks john, i  share the same driving profile.. you made me laugh, i live in NYC, and try to stay in the outer boroughs ....forget parking. i know the frustration and aniexty is very real and  i let the more positive confident folks drive, i am a realist and past experience tells me let others drive, and they curse and yell while i keep fairly calm. as long as we get where we are going safely and have a few laughs it does not seem to matter if we thought we could make good time(positive expectations) or are stuck in gridlock (reality). a simple way of looking at things, everything passes so keep your sense of humor or you may lose your mind. jp

  • kc
    kc
    Oct. 05, 2013

    John, this reminds of a quote that I have always loved, attributed to Jean Kerr: Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn't permanent.

     

    I hesitated to share this, because it may sound trite to some Depressive Realists. But this quote comes close to representing what for me has been a life-saving way of thinking. I discovered at an early age the...

    RHMLucky777

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    John, this reminds of a quote that I have always loved, attributed to Jean Kerr: Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn't permanent.

     

    I hesitated to share this, because it may sound trite to some Depressive Realists. But this quote comes close to representing what for me has been a life-saving way of thinking. I discovered at an early age the necessary knowledge (you see what I did there?) that ultimately I must be able to rely on myself to get through the rough times. But in the roughest of times, abstract concepts like “self-reliance” just don't help. You have to find a way to make your self-reliance real and solid.

     

    In order to feel "that the feeling you have isn't permanent," you have to acknowledge your own strength, your own agency in your own survival. And, by consciously giving yourself credit for each and every struggle you overcome, you let this strength build up on itself over time, like scaffolding going up a building. When you tell yourself, "I will get through this," you will know that it's not just empty, abstract words, but real and true, based on your own accumulated strength.

     

    I may be confounding “hope” and “optimism,” here; if so, I apologize for going off-topic.

    • John McManamy
      Health Guide
      Oct. 05, 2013

      Hey, KC. Got the pun. :) There's a lot of food for thought in your post. There's a whole realm of mindsets to explore, all over-lapping: optimism, hope, pessimism, realism, visionary, on and on. They are all part of our survival gear. I think we need to give ourselves permission to be pessimists. Denying our true states is self-defeating. False hope and false...

      RHMLucky777

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      Hey, KC. Got the pun. :) There's a lot of food for thought in your post. There's a whole realm of mindsets to explore, all over-lapping: optimism, hope, pessimism, realism, visionary, on and on. They are all part of our survival gear. I think we need to give ourselves permission to be pessimists. Denying our true states is self-defeating. False hope and false optimism set us up for failure. Nurturing true hope - that's the challenge. Stay tuned .... 

    • Cathryne
      Oct. 06, 2013

      I have to agree with John.  My pessimism is more grounded in reality.  It just is. I found out about the conclusions of this study a while back and thought to see if my decisions while depressed were more based in reality than my decisions otherwise informed.  Yes, they were.  And I now have a barometer for mania.  If I belive I can...

      RHMLucky777

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      I have to agree with John.  My pessimism is more grounded in reality.  It just is. I found out about the conclusions of this study a while back and thought to see if my decisions while depressed were more based in reality than my decisions otherwise informed.  Yes, they were.  And I now have a barometer for mania.  If I belive I can do it when I have never tried it before, I am probably manic.  No one needs the unnecessary burden of fooling oneself into positivism.  I read Alexander Pope.  I do not necesairly belive what Alexander Pope posits.  (Essay on Man)

       

      Pope's "translation" of the Iliad rhymes in English.  Hows that for positive thinking.  It does not rhyme in it's native language or in other translations.  But Pople thought that it "should" because it is a poem.  And I do read Voltaire because Pangloss makes sense.