The following is from a one of my threads in a forum. It helps illustrate my point:
With optimism and drive, you can accomplish anything. Optimism allows you to see forward, and opens hope...your goal becomes apparent. Drive allows you to overcome all odds to achieve your goal.
Pessimism is more akin to being a fatalist (no power to change your fate). Anyone who realizes that one's future is written by one's actions, is not a pessimist. You have the power to change your future...that much is plain. You can change your health through healthful eating (of course, up to your genetic potential...), exercise, and sound sleep. Your mental state ( barring off kilter physical variables- a product of genetics - how much and in what ratios your neurotransmitters/hormones are in), can be altered somewhat,often times to a healthy degree, through plentiful exercise, a healthful diet, plentiful amounts of deep sleep, and by attitude. Your economic potential is raised by educating yourself so you may be more marketable, or even better, by creating your own business...etc. The capability to alter your course is undeniable.
The way I see it:
A pessimist is a cork at the mercy of the tides. It is safe, as you have no expectations of yourself. To know that you are the captain of your ship, able to buck the tides of fate through your helmsmanship, takes effort, but offers freedom. The effort is a result of drive. The drive is derived from passion. To have passion, you must be able to see an end result, or at least have clear knowledge that the path taken is the correct one. To have a clear vision of the future, coupled with the knowledge that it is reachable through your efforts, is optimism. Your ship is powered by the winds of passion, and steered by applied intelligence. The stronger your passion, the fuller your sails, and so, the faster you shall go. The more efficient your plan for the future, the more efficient the path the ship shall take. Both speed up the transit. With both in place, you may also take time to enjoy the clouds, the seabirds, and the sunsets as you effectively move toward your goal. You have firm knowledge that you are moving steadily forward, and so, your life is in perspective. Little things don't bother you (for long), and you may enjoy the process. This is the key to mental health fitness. The more you advance, the easier life becomes, and the richer the experiences. There are no dark clouds on the immediate horizon, and you have the knowledge that, with your solidly built ship, you could weather any storm.
Any one that has experienced life, already knows the feeling of winning, of accomplishment. You already know that it can be achieved through effort. Don't concentrate on your deficits. Concentrate on your strengths. Focus on a task, and fully master it. Once you realize this, you are on the way to mastering anything you truly desire. You can outwork your competitors. Drive is THE most important component in success. You are compelled to practice your craft far beyond the limits of those with less passion. Through repetition, you will master. Through mastery, you shall find success. Nothing drives success more than success. Once you know you can master something, you know, with enough applied effort, you can master anything. Life becomes thoroughly enjoyable. You will realize the energy and strength of the gods, which in turn, allows you to drive on further and faster. That is being on a Positive Spiral. Life becomes easier and more enjoyable the higher up you go.
Looking at the whole picture and weighing and measuring the probabilities of negative outcomes is rational thinking (realist). To be a realist with expanded horizons, is an optimist. To not do something out of fear of possible negative consequences is pessimism - besides being plain stupid. NO - all of you self proclaimed pessimists are not stupid...it is just...you are not pessimists.
I think the key is in the preparation. Optimism, to me, is not a consciously applied state of mind...but a realization...a foregone conclusion...if you have prepared yourself. You know the direction you must travel. You prepare the supplies necessary and pace yourself so you may walk at the highest sustained rate until completion of the journey. You will have done all that you could have done. You know that you will reach your destination...it then becomes a matter of when. The more effort applied...the faster the rate of travel. You are in control.
Optimism is a result of knowing what you are facing...adequately preparing yourself to win...and never quitting. You can conquer the more intelligent...the more advantaged in some way...by outworking them.
Optimism doesn't mean not being realistic. It means to stretch your horizons to areas beyond where you dare not tread due to the comfort of the known. It means to prepare yourself to venture into the untraveled to achieve your goal.
I think the confusion comes from people thinking to be optimistic is to be reckless. No...it is to dream....to lay out an efficient path to the realization to that dream....to keep that dream alive amid a sea of pessimists and naysayers...to not allow self sabotage....TO NEVER QUIT until your dream is realized.
THE MOST IMPORTANT VARIABLE IN SUCCESS IS DRIVE. If you want it badly enough...you will do anything to achieve it. Narrow your interests down to a realistic goal...take care of one thing at a time...build success upon success. Optimism is a natural result. You have knowledge, forever more, that you can do that which you most want to do.
Optimism gives you the dream...the vision of your goal.
Objective Reasoning allows you to lay out the most efficient path to that goal.
Drive gives you the energy of the gods to see that goal to fruition....to never stop...to never look back...to never quit.
Give your child one of the great keys to happiness in life. With optimism...borne of the successful conquering of true challenges...he will take care of everything else.