The Joys & Benefits Of Optimism

We all know the type….the glass is always half empty.

The rain clouds are always coming.

Failure is around every corner.

Pessimism is a trait that is especially acute during stressful times, such when we watched incessant news coverage of Hurricane Dorian as it threated South Florida before turning north.

I know folks who predicted Armageddon and they are not crazy—we dodged a bullet and the footage that we see from The Bahamas could have easily been us. I get it and I’m grateful.

But these folks were sure—rock solid sure—- of the hurricane track even when the experts weren’t and so to my mind they lean toward the pessimistic side. They are lovable. They are well-meaning and they are caring. But if you lived with them you would need intravenous Xanax.

The sky is always falling, your ideas are always full of holes and they are always there to poke a hole in your enthusiasm.

If you are an entrepreneur, these folks—within reason—are needed and necessary. They keep you sharp, they force you to answer questions and think through solutions to the weaknesses in your ideas.

But you can’t be a pessimist and succeed.

There’s no progress without risk.

In fact, I would argue that the key to success can be found in the following sentence: “do what everyone else is not doing and be right.”

If you scratch under the surface of every business you will often stumble across the notion that nobody thinks (fill in the blank) will work.

Do you really think someone is going to rent a room from a stranger? (AIRBNB)

Do you think someone is going to hail a ride from a stranger and abandon taxis? (Lyft, Uber).

Blockbuster will be here forever, every American visits it once a week to rent a video. You think you are going to compete by mailing DVD’s? (Netflix, before streaming).

Delray is Dull Ray. It will never turn around. (Delray Beach)

Boca will never survive IBM leaving, Big Blue built that town. (Boca Raton)

Doing something that nobody thinks is right or possible is the beginning of every success story.

Pessimists make the definitive statements.

Optimists defy the naysayers.

And guess what, there is a reward for optimism and now it’s scientifically proven.

That reward is longevity.

That’s right. Optimists live longer.

But before we delve briefly into the science, what is optimism?

Optimism is a psychological attribute characterized as the general expectation that good things will happen, or the belief that the future will be favorable because one can control important outcomes.

Previous scientific studies reported that more optimistic individuals are less likely to suffer from chronic diseases and die prematurely. But new results further suggest that optimism is specifically related to an 11 percent to 15 percent longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity,” that is, living to the age of 85 or beyond. These relations were independent of socioeconomic status, health conditions, depression, social integration, and health behaviors (e.g., smoking, diet, and alcohol use).

Hey, I didn’t make that up. That info comes from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

So bottom line: try to be optimistic. And if you have any trouble deciphering which side of the optimist/pessimist divide you might fall on try answering this simple question.

What’s the difference between a pessimist and an optimist?

A pessimist says “things can’t get any worse”

And optimist says “sure they can!”

We’re kidding with that one of course. A pessimist would say we did that on purpose, an optimist would see the humor in the line and forward this blog to everyone they know.



  1. Palm Beach County chapter of NOW, National Organization for Women is having a program on Women Entrepreneurs on Saturday October 19 from 11-12:30 at the Delray Beach Library. The public is invited.
    Please share.
    I tried to Enter To Win a gift card to Cafe Luna but the response was “Could not send your info”?

  2. You nailed it! 👍🤩

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