Half-Empty, Half-Full Or Half Something Else: 4 Things You Can Be Instead Of A Pessimist Or An Optimist

I was going to include a 5th type, being a person who just wants to squeeze cats all the time, but I figured that was everyone, sooooo.
Publish date:
July 15, 2013
unrepentant optimism, Daniel Day-Lewis, judgey lists

When it comes to how we approach life, how we view the world -- some folks say there are only two categories.

By this way of thinking, you are either an optimist (seeing your milkshake decanter as being half-full) or you are a pessimist (already mourning the milkshake you can see, through your salty, bitter tears, as being half-depleted).

It’s easy -- and tempting as hell - to label people’s perceived worldviews. If we can quickly assign people into one category or another, then we can expect them to behave in one of a certain number of limited ways.

The problem is -- this almost never happens. People don’t often behave the way our labeling would dictate that they ought to. Labeling someone as optimistic or pessimistic doesn’t allow for the inherent weirdo-ness that comes with being human. It sets a person up to surprise you, like in this study where people labeled as pessimists were viewed as having more successful marriages.

It’s a study that’s flawed from the start by its language. It confuses pessimism and optimism with, “having realistic expectations” and “being a giant naive tool-bucket.” Going into a marriage being all “EVERYTHING WILL ALWAYS BE GREAT” doesn’t mean you have positive outlook, it means you are in need of a face-slapping and a reality check.

Conversely, being all, “I love this person, I want to spend the rest of my life with them, but that doesn’t mean someday down the road we won’t have problems,” doesn’t mean you are a marriage champ -- it means you are, you know, a person who has given marriage serious consideration.

While there is sort of charm to seeing the world in absolutes, this one rankles because I can, off the top of my head, think of at least four of types of people who prove there’s more ways to view life than by being an optimist or a pessimist:

1.) The Dietarily Restricted

This is the type of person who doesn’t care about the glass at all because they don’t eat dairy, and damned if they are going to start now. Maybe offer them a milkshake where it is a banana and some cocoa! Those are pretty good actually.

2.) The Movie Nerd

This is the type of person who is going to pretend they are in "There Will Be Blood" and will proceed to loudly shout about drinking your milkshake up. You want to roll your eyes at them, but the thing is their Daniel Day Lewis impression is, like, pretty dead on.

3.) The Person Who Exclusively Wears Shirts With Sayings On Them

This is the type of person who is going to look at the glass and claim that it is full of goldfish. This is also the type of person who was known in high school as being “the guy who was always wearing a tophat.”

4.) The Person Who Is Young At Heart

This is the person who throws their milkshake at you and then starts running around the milkshake store. They like to catch lightning bugs and remind you that you are always young at heart. Sometimes you hate this person, but then other times, they take a nap or make you a necklace out of noodles and everything is new again.