Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Published 9:03 am Friday, November 14, 2014

One of the things about Facebook these days is that it’s flooded with tests. These tests get at everything from the important question of “What should your career be?” to the even more important “What kind of toast are you?”

The other day I saw one asking me if I was an optimist or a pessimist. I ended up ranking better than I expected, which to me, tells me what I need to know about online tests. Sometimes fun time passers, but definitely nothing to take to heart.

I’ve never really viewed myself as an optimist or a pessimist. Though if you were to ask my friends, I’m fairly certain they’d call me a pessimist. I suppose it comes with the territory when you are a news journalist. Sure, you often see the best of humanity, but fairly often a news journalist is also writing about the worst side.

If you’ve watched any police officer television show, and there are way too many to count, you probably understand the term cop humor and generally what that means. News journalists probably fall somewhere on the same spectrum.

And I suppose I should also mention that I’ve been a fan of traditionally bad sports teams, which causes one to pull in expectations.

But that kind of thing isn’t really a direct correlation to what I think about the outcome of life in general.

Do I think good things are going to happen to me when I walk out the door in the morning? Maybe. I think there is a chance for good things to happen and a chance for bad things to happen, but I believe it all comes down to the decisions I make.

Sure, some things are out of my control. When I walk out of the door in the morning, I’m generally thinking about the most efficient way to get through everything I have to do that day. There will be many events that will try to throw that off, and there may even be some that will make my day easier.

While I do think it is more rare to get an event that will make my day easier, I think of that more so as the nature of the business I’m in. And it’s sort of just a general work thing. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone go around bragging about how great that break was that made their day easier.

Do I think in the long run that good things are going to happen for me? Yes, if I make them happen. If I’m lazy and just sit back and hope good things will come, it will probably never happen, though the universe is sometimes weird.

For some people, the easy way out does work. For others, trying to take the easy way out makes life worse.

Playing probabilities, I figure it’s way more likely that trying to take the easy way out would end up making my life worse. Plus, it’s not really my personality.

I’ve intentionally made things harder for myself at times. When it came to essay topics, I never would settle for the one that would be the easy A. I always wanted the topic that made me work more than the other students — even if I had something else going on that made accomplishing that impossible.

If given the choice, I’ll almost always take the uphill battle. Some hills I figuratively die on, and others I get over. As I move on, I know it’s something I have to balance.

Ultimately, though, I think life is what you make it. I’ve made plenty of mistakes that have led to bad things happening to me. I’ve also made plenty good decisions that have led to good outcomes.

Now, all of this is conveniently ignoring some of life’s tragedies. I’ve had my share, and plenty of people have experienced way worse. I generally do not think about the fact — though I know it’s possible — that one day I could be diagnosed with cancer, or perhaps I could even get robbed.

You try to make decisions to prevent those things, but sometimes they are unavoidable. I know that no matter how well I treat my body, there’s still a chance to get cancer. So, beyond doing what I can do, it doesn’t really cross my mind, though I definitely am not one of those people who thinks I am immune.

Ah, whatever, maybe I am sometimes a pessimist. I’m also sometimes an optimist.

And back to what’s really important, the Internet says I’m cinnamon toast. Hmm…

Cain Madden is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. He reserves the right to be inconsistent. Contact him at 562-3187 or