Realism vs Optimism – A Comparison & Discussion

Hello everyone, it’s Zainab, welcome or welcome back to my blog! Today’s post is going to be really fun for me to write as I think it’s quite an interesting topic and is almost a debate of two mindsets. Both realism and optimism have their share of advantages and disadvantages, and considering my blog is centred around positivity, I thought it would be a change of direction to write about realism as well as comparing it to optimism. Let’s get into it!

‘a feeling that good things will happen and that something will be successful’‘a way of seeing, accepting, and dealing with situations as they really are without being influenced by your emotions or false hopes’
Definitions from Oxford Learners Dictionaries

The above definitions give a pretty good idea of the two ways of thinking. In short, optimism is thinking very positively whereas realism is thinking about the real outcome of a situation and being prepared accordingly (for whatever the outcome may be, whether it’s negative or positive.’

If we take a look at an example, let’s say there’s two students: Student A and Student B. Both haven’t studied for their test in a couple of hours. Student B decides to accept this fact and knows that they will probably fail as a result. However, Student A still wanted to do well so they keep telling themselves they will do great no matter what. This is showing a real scenario of a difference of the two mindsets. Student A is embodying optimism whereas Student B is embodying realism.

But the true fact is, having a mix of both can be beneficial. And too much of one can be detrimental.

Being Too Optimistic

While optimism is great, and usually the mindset I choose to go with in many situations, sometimes too much optimism can actually be quite damaging. Optimism is having hope in all situations, right? Which is so important as it keeps your spirits high as well as helps your mindset.

However, too much optimism could actually be quite delusional. If you begin to think every situation will result in butterflies, flowers and rainbows, you’ll lose that sense of reality as a person. When actually, we all know that not every situation going to plan actually might be helpful as it can help you bloom and grow as a person. Being optimistic in every single situation can also be hurtful sometimes, because if the best thing doesn’t happen, it leads to disappointment – and this continually happening means you may lose the entirety of your optimism, which also isn’t good.

Being Too Realistic

Realism is definitely a way of stopping yourself from becoming disappointed which can be very helpful. Seeing situations the way they are without clouded judgement can definitely help to make the best decisions as well as manage your expectations. Marvel’s latest Spiderman movie had a line from MJ (played by Zendaya) in which she said,
‘“If you expect disappointment, then you can never really be disappointed.” Which, in my perspective, is the reason I think a lot of people choose to go with the realistic route when they’re face with a problem.

But expecting disappointment with realism is equally as damaging as having false hope. Constantly thinking of yourself not doing well or failing when make you lose belief in yourself for everything. You’ll lose your sense of inner child and passion for something as you’ll not expect highly from yourself – which again is incredibly damaging.

Overall Consensus – A Mix of being Realistic and Optimistic

Both realism and optimism are beneficial in different circumstances if they’re not exaggerated too much. It’s only when both of them become habits that problems begin to arise (too much of anything is not good for you!)

Personally, I like both both mindsets. I think optimism gives you hope and lets you dream big, and balancing it with realism keeps you grounded and down to Earth. The right balance of both ideas can give you great results!

The formal term for this ‘Positive Realism’ and I absolutely love it as it helps lead you to success! I’m not going to go into detail about this today, as the whole post has been leading up to it, but if you’d like to learn more about positive realism you can find many great articles about it online.


Realistic vs Optimistic Thinking Overview

Use Positive Realism for Maximum Success

Thank you so much for reading this post. I learned a lot just from writing it, and I hope it was an eye opener to positive realism for you too! Let me know in the comments what mindset you tend to use more.

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25 thoughts on “Realism vs Optimism – A Comparison & Discussion

  1. Pooja G

    This is such a great post because I think about optimism vs pessimism vs realism a lot. I have always been a more realistic person and I think that makes me lean towards being a bit of a pessimist compared to most people. I think I need to be a bit more optimistic because like you said, both are necessary depending on the situation.
    I would love for you to do a comparison post on pessimism vs realism because I think people often confuse the two. Whenever you have time and if you feel like it’s an interesting topic to write on! No pressure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zainab

      Thank you so much Pooja – yeah I think a mix of both definitely is the best combination! Oooh that’s a good idea, I’ll definitely try and write it at some point! One of the links in my post is an article with more information about all 3 of the mindsets if you’d like an overview of each. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sabrina💭💛

    This is such a great post Zainab👐! It can indeed be seen as a bit of a debate. Well as you’ve said, too much of either one is bad. Sometimes it can get a bit irritating how “optimistic” some people are. Can we even call it optimistic at this point? Sometimes I see it as a bit of toxic positivity.
    But then again, too much realism can be toxic too. Ahh, yes – as with most things in life, a balance is needed. And positive realism is a goal🥂🌚.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zainab

      It definitely is – a lot of people have actually said this! Maybe try and see what kinds of situations causes each mindset and use that to find a balance??


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