Optimism and optimal behavior

I find that among the many oddities of human nature is the tendency to prefer labels and boxes. Anything that’s slightly ambiguous or stray too far from the line of definable rings a scary bell. What faith or science can’t neatly put it in a box often ends up shunned or persecuted.

That’s why I think it’s kind of a brave thing to do to openly say things that may not agree with popular opinion. Like someone saying out loud that he doesn’t believe in optimism in an interesting take about the topic:

Optimism is a widely-praised trait. An understandable condition given it’s definition.

screen cap from http://dictionary.reference.com

But sometimes, I get the feeling that there are several shades of gray that make different people understand the definition in diverse ways. Cheerfulness, extroversion, openness, and enthusiasm are just some of the other traits equated with optimism. With that in mind, is it really possible to label someone who doesn’t exhibit those characteristics as a pessimist? I think not.

The need for solitude, introversion, underdeveloped talent for constant chatter, and other quieter tendencies doesn’t necessarily lean towards pessimism. Maybe, there are just people who believe in all the goodness they can find and celebrate it in their unique, quiet ways.


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