Are you an Optimist or a Pessimist?


The Daily Mail ran an article entitled: “Your glass really can become half full” claiming research that “shows how you can train your brain to become an OPTIMIST in seven weeks”. (1).


Now, I don’t know whether you are an optimist (a glass half full” type) or a pessimist (a glass half empty type) but the article claimed that an optimist has a much happier and it would seem healthier lifestyle than a pessimist with research showing that “on average, being optimistic can add more than seven years to a life – four years more than if a cure for cancer was found”! Fascinating stuff!


Whenever I think of the difference between the optimist and the pessimist I reflect on the opening lines of Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” So for Dickens there is tension between good and evil, wisdom and foolishness, light and darkness, Spring and Winter, plenty and poverty, heaven and hell and these things stand equally matched in their struggle to get a grip of our minds and influence our outlook on life. The question then becomes, which of these will prevail?