You've heard the old saw that "a pessimist sees the glass as half empty while the optimist sees the glass as half full."  That's a stupid comparison.

Defined that way, optimism means giving your life experience a positive emotional spin while pessimism entails giving it a correspondingly negative spin.

If the only difference between optimism and pessimism is your emotional perception, it doesn't really matter which viewpoint you have. "It's half full, and I'm happy about that" isn't much better than "It's half empty, and I'm bummed about that." They're both a passive acceptance of the situation.

As I see it, the true difference between being an optimist and a pessimist isn't emotional spin; it's the belief that you can, should, and will take action to change things.

A true optimist sees things as they are, visualizes how they might become better, and then takes action to make them so.

A true pessimist sees things negatively from the start, expects things to get worse, and can barely summon the energy to prevent disaster.

In other words, a pessimist stares at a half-empty glass and mutters, "Why me?" while an optimist sees the same glass and says, "I'm gonna add some ice and drink that sucker."

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