The companion piece to How Do Your Storm Clouds Grow?
It has always made more sense to me for there to be varying degrees of cynicism. Not believing, indulging in the possibility or probability for things to work out involves nuance and contextual details. And yet, if there could be more than one type of Cynic, why couldn’t there be more than one type of Optimist?
The Hopeless Optimist
– I’m always going to win, I’m always going to be picked, I’m going to succeed.
The Realist Optimist
– Absolutely, let’s do it, but we should bring an umbrella and a change of clothes just in case.
The Can-Do Optimist
– Yes, no problem. I can do it.
The Hopeless Optimist is the opposite of the Hopeless Cynic. Whereas the latter doesn’t believe in favorable outcomes or in his own abilities, the former is unapologetically confident and certain that obstacles will dematerialize and fortune will be his. It’s all in the belief.
The Realist Optimist and the Realist Cynic may be two end zones of the same football field. Based on their own intuition, past experiences or observations of other peoples’ track records, they are willing to hope that the future will unfold in a desirable fashion but always have a backup plan.
The Can-Do Optimist is similar to the Hopeless Optimist in regards to hyperbolic positivity. They differ, however, in one crucial area. The Can-Do Optimist doesn’t necessarily have faith that he will succeed or that his troubles will vaporize eventually, nonetheless, he reflexively accepts any task. It’s not that failure isn’t an option for him; it just doesn’t register.
And then there’s the Inopportune Optimist.
Like the Slow Burn Cynic, who possesses qualities of the other Cynics at one time or another, the Inopportune Optimist can submerge himself in positive thinking or doing as well as tap into moderated hope. What makes him more complicated is that he manifests his happy face and winning pride at the worst moment possible. Put another way, his timing is terrible.
Applying these optimistic tendencies to reality, imagine there is an opportunity to be a member of an Olympic team. The Hopeless and the Can-Do will both apply without a second thought. The Realist would apply after doing a cost-benefit analysis and preparing for disappointment. The Inopportune will do whatever is required or asked of him with enthusiasm. If he is selected to be on the Olympic team, the quality of his efforts and performance will carry him all the way to the top. Let’s say he or another teammate stumbles and victory is no longer guaranteed. His teammates’ spirits are dampened. Rather than offer a tempered positive attitude, the Inopportune refuses to acknowledge that anything is wrong. He doesn’t know he ought to channel the Realist Optimist in himself at that moment, so out cascades the Hopeless and Can-Do.
I consider myself to be a Realist Optimist. What kind of Optimist are you? What kinds do you know?