Optimism is for stupid heads

I personally would never want to be labeled an optimist, or a pessimist for that matter. Probably because no one likes a debbie downer and optimistic people have a tendency to be frustratingly stupid. Instead, I’d much rather be dubbed a realist. I make a conscience effort to think with my head and not my heart.

According to Merriam-Webster, optimism is defined as “an inclination to anticipate the best possible outcome.” Come on, am I the only one that thinks that is borderline ridiculous? I don’t know what world you’re living in, but where I’m from the stock market crashes, home prices drop, and people lose their jobs. Hey optimists, try and find something good about this picture…

you can't can you!?

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with hoping for the best, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for the worst. It’s a two way street people. I’m sure we all know people that live paycheck to paycheck by choice. They spend ever dollar they earn on two things; necessities (things like food, cleaning supplies, etc) and luxuries (facials, $100 bar tabs, lottery tickets, etc) . They use optimism as a justification for their behavior, believing that their next paycheck is guaranteed. They use optimism as an excuse to do stupid things, like not build up an emergency fund. Guess what buddy, if that paycheck doesn’t come, you are in deep, deep….trouble πŸ˜‰

I’ve got news for eternal optimists: Rainy days lie ahead, bad things are going to happen to you, life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Unfortunately, shady, immoral, greedy, and stupid people exist. And as long as they are around, optimism needs to take a hike and let discernment take control.

Have you had to deal with some stupidly optimistic people? Do you just bite your tongue and watch them make bad decisions or do you attempt to intervene and share some realistic input? It’s tough to tell someone they are being too positive, but sometimes it’s too important not to!

p.s. Check out my guest post on the Lending Tree blog about Love and Money. It’s a doozey.

20 thoughts on “Optimism is for stupid heads

  1. Financial planners who tell me what kind of return they can get me if I invest with them πŸ™‚ Have you been watching Two and a Half Men lately?

    As pessimistic as I am, I do like lottery tickets. Small gamble, big payoff. Too bad we don’t have a lottery in Nevada.

  2. Didn’t we have basically this same discussion a month ago, when I wrote a lengthy paean to the wisdom of negativity?

  3. I’m definitely a realist; some have gone as far as calling me heartless (I know… ME?? HEARTLESS??), but thinking with my head and not my heart has kept me out of some pretty ugly situations (personal and financial).

    • BTW… dude in the Daisy Dukes… a little creepy… I’d hate to see the picture is it was taken in front! πŸ˜‰

      • “Hey optimists, try and find something good about this picture…”

        Yes. At least we’re not looking at the front. lol

  4. The hardest part is saying your peace then shutting up and watching your friends and family make terrible financial decisions. Like my friends that despite the fact they are $50,000 in debt they bought a house. To compound that he borrowed from retirement for the down payment and he works for the SUNY system which is currently having serious financial cutbacks. I wrote them down a list of books and blogs (this one included) to look at for planning and advice but you can only lead a horse to water.

    P.S. That picture made me vomit in my mouth a little. Thanks for that.

  5. An optimist’s take on that photo – he is comfortable with who he is and he doesn’t care what others think. He’s his own person.

    But really, you can be an optimist and not be stupid about finances, life’s unexpected surprises and the like. There is a difference between hoping for the best, but knowing the worst can happen, than actually living with your head in the sand.

    And is it me, or have many of your posts these days been negative?

  6. Stupidly optimistic people? I punch them in the face.

    I kid, I kid. I try to take the balanced road – I use optimism with caution. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer but there are occasions where I find myself playing the devil’s advocate to others’ displays of optimism.

  7. I do consider myself an optimist, but not of the shitting rainbows variety. I’m well aware that rainy days, disappointment and even tragedy lie ahead of me. But they lie behind me as well, and yet here I am, doing A-OK. That fact gives me the strength and confidence to know that if and when the future unloads some crap on me, I can and will push through, make do, and come out on the other side, once again looking bad on these things, and looking forward to better times.

    Good and bad, happiness and sadness, tragedy and triumph – that’s the ebb and flow of life. The pessimist sees only the bad, the sadness, the tragedy. But there are two kinds of optimists – those who wish and hope and even believe nothing bad will ever happen, and sadly, they’re the least prepared when it does. But there are other optimists who – like me – believe that the bad will always pass and that they’re capable of seeing their way through it, because it does, and they do.

  8. I need some eyebleach. That picture – yeowch!

    I’ve always thought of myself as a pessimist, and you know what? All I saw were the bad things. The good things were the exception, not the rule. I had been extremely lucky – lived paycheck to paycheck while utilizing my credit cards (3 of ’em). Even after I stopped using the cards, I’ve never missed a payment. Somehow, I always came up with the money. Now the balances are dropping at a good clip and I’m planning to pay them off this year (big boo-yah!). I expect to pay off my $12K student loan in 3 years, too (and another boo-yah!)

    A friend of mine, however, didn’t do as well. We were about in the same boat with debt and a bleak outlook. The difference is, I got myself a better job, then another, and another, hiking my pay and worth with each step. She wallowed with bad job after bad job and spent everything, eventually declaring bancruptcy. She has two outstanding student loans that I know of. She now lives in a hotel room with a barely functioning car. She was almost homeless a few times as her FICO is trashed and her credit cards are maxed again, and no landlord will take her and her family. Last I heard, she was working part-time, but convinced her hubby to go for his first bachelor’s, so they took out the max in student loans to live on. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    Basically, I learned that I NEVER wanted to be like her, so I changed my ways and the light at the end of the tunnel is only a few yards away!

  9. Optimism is not bad! I would rather be optimistic than pessimistic. I lived with a cynical and pessimistic person til I turned 21. My mother was an eternal pessimist and very distrusting of everyone! That is not good either. II am not blindly optimistic, however I am very positive. I plan, organize and make things happen. It gives me confidence.and I enjoy the success. It gives me a positive attitude that evolved from success. One may describe me as optimistic!

  10. Is there a word for someone who believes in the best parts of people, but maybe not the entire situation? I trust people (optimist) but not necessarily the environment, investments, plans, etc.

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