OPTIMIST VERSUS PESSIMIST
By Swami Dr Snehananda Jyoti on 28-07-2016
We are very familiar with the often used example for an optimist and a pessimist. When a glass is half full, the optimist sees it as half full and the pessimist as half empty. Both are right: the only difference is that the one looks at the positive while the other at the negative side of life. The optimist is more likely to trust others, is more willing to give others a chance, is more willing to take a risk, is more willing to let things unfold and see what happens, and is more hopeful. The pessimist has difficulty trusting others, is more cautious, more concerned about not being deceived or tricked, and is less willing to take a risk.When I visited my older brother a few years ago, he told me during one conversation: “Pappacha (that is my pet name or nick name while growing up), these days you cannot trust anybody.” I asked him: “Does that include you too?” A little perplexed at my unexpected question, with bit of a skeptic smile he replied: “Yes”. I tell people: “if pessimism helps you, keep it”. But I do not know anyone who has been helped by pessimism.From the beginning of humanity, there have been pessimists and doomsayers. All the human progress took place because of optimists who dared to risk their life, made investments of energy and resources, and pursued adventurous explorations that others thought insane. We are willing to climb on the bandwagon of progress that others sacrificed for. Some years ago I bought a piece of land in the heart of Sunset Point on the seashore in cape Kanyakumari (South India). An older brother (not the one mentioned above) and a nephew were with me. When after giving the final word to the broker, I got on a katamaran (three logs tied together that fishermen in South India use) to go into the deep sea with a fisherman, my brother, calling me insane (pichen), and my nephew walked away sad. In the open sea I had the thrill of my life as it was a unique experience. I know many will not take the risk of riding a katmaran in the ocean. Now that the property I bought there has become very valuable, my insanity also went away as far as they are concerned.Life is full of risks. Some take greater risks; most take smaller ones. If one is concerned about the accidents on the road that could take place in spite of being a good driver, one will not drive. I will only advocate reasonable and calculated risks that one can take and live with. There is no way one can experience intense joy without intense pain. The higher the peak one climbs for a unique, indescribable, and delightful view, the lower the valley. It is all a question of contrast. We know the familiar saying that there no gain without pain.In the midst of all the senseless human-caused tragedies and destruction that take place daily, it is difficult to be optimistic. But we have no choice except being optimists even while we take necessary precautions. Humanity’s march towards it destiny cannot be halted by pessimists who put damper on initiatives and even breaks due to their own unfounded fears and anxieties. Optimism is likely to go with encouragement, enthusiasm, and celebration of life.
About The Author
Dr. John K Thekkedam (Swami Snehananda Jyoti) spent most of his life as a clinical psychologist in USA. He began his public life as a Jesuit priest. Quite attracted in distinct philosophies, he left the society and founded 'East West Awakening'.