The Downside to Optimism that NO ONE is Talking About

3 Challenges that all Optimists Secretly Face The Letters of Gratitude

Memes touting inspirational and uplifting quotes are all over self-media.  We like them, we share them and most of the time they lift our spirits – even if it is just for a fleeting moment.  Heck we are the first to admit that we are a huge part of this trend and that makes us feel good.

Even more than social media, many of us have adopted an optimistic personality.  We choose to look on the bright side of life and this is especially true when life gets tough.  All of us have our bad days, but optimistic people most often get themselves out of a rut far quicker than the pessimistic folk out there.  They spread positive energy as much as possible and are a huge source of happiness for the people around them.  These are all really good things, but in truth it’s not all roses and fairy dust.

Here are 3 Challenges that all Optimists Secretly Face (or have faced):


  • They give people too much credit. Over the years we have been HUGELY guilty of this one.  It is important to see the good in people, but make sure it is coupled with a healthy dose of reality.  Sometimes we paint people with the brush of possibility, rather than truth and this can put ourselves in the real danger of being hurt.  We think things like, “They did hurt me, but they are trying to change.”  In other words, we excuse their bad behavior with our optimism for who they could be.  This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t see the good in people, it’s just that we should also be honest about the way people treat us (especially when behavior is repetitive).
  • They keep the negative stuff bottled up. Some people want so badly to be this gleaming bright light and focus so intently on being a positive force that they simply disregard the tough stuff in their world.  We fear things like: bringing others down, being judged for bitching about our lives, or being overly dramatic.  At the risk of these fears, optimistic people sometimes choose to simply negate their.  Instead, they focus on everything good in their world and live in a sort of dream state.  We get it.  We have been there, but honestly if you are doing this we promise it will catch up with you.  If you aren’t into burdening other people with what is going on with you, try journaling in a way that you can LEARN something from the challenge.  When we wrote The Letters of Gratitude book, we created the following format – write about the experience and all of the details of the challenge.  Let it out.  Then write about what you can be grateful for about the experience.  What can you learn from it?  See the difference between bottling it up and dealing with it in a healthy way?
  • They expect others to be in the same headspace. Some optimists do this and end up living in a perpetual cycle of disappointment. Let’s all face it – when we are happy, we want others to be happy too.  The truth is, it doesn’t always work that way. Just because you can see, feel and appreciate all that is going great, other people may be on the flip side to your coin.  It is important to share with them a positive outlook, but it is not your fault if they can’t see it.  Continue to do your best, but also be aware of the energy they are sharing with you.  Sometimes you simply can’t help someone other than give them space to learn and grow in their own time and in their own way.  We have all been there.  Instead, acknowledge what people are going through and let them know that you are there for them if they need you.  Say something like, “just let me know if there is anything I can do to support your journey.”  Don’t take on their challenges as something you need to fix! We often also assume that everyone else has our good character traits.  We think things like, “I am honest, so I can expect everyone else to be.” Or, “I don’t talk negatively about anyone and neither do my friends.”  The truth is, most of us aren’t psychic.  Observe and take note of reality instead of expecting others to be a reflection of you. Yes, you can hope for that, but also know that this isn’t always the truth.

Being optimistic is a great place to be, just make sure you aren’t overdoing it.  There is a healthy balance between optimism and reality.  Yes, optimism is an extremely practical way to live a happy life when you know when and how to see the good stuff.  Let’s be honest, living a life of gratitude isn’t a one way ticket to happy-land.  But, through the ups and downs in life you can smile, deal with pain of challenges and move forward.  Continue to see the good in people and be aware of repetitive negative behavior.  And remember to honor other people for their unique emotional and spiritual journey.  You cannot fix the world, but you can continue to be your very best!

With LOVE and Gratitude,

Rob & Jacq

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Rob and Jacq