What is the difference between being positive & being optimistic in a situation?

What is the difference between being positive & being optimistic in a situation?

What is the difference between being positive & being optimistic in a situation?

Last October, I made the decision to move back home to pursue freelancing part-time while working a full-time job and saving up to meet financial goals. This meant I was going to lose my current job and during the last two months there, it proved difficult to find something with the right fit. That and I wasn’t getting any responses at all. I got really desperate at the end of it.

So I did what I always do: I decided that I’ll find a way to get to where I want to be by working with what I can get and I went with the flow. This involved accepting a lower paying part-time position that I wasn’t even sure was going to help me pay rent let alone allow me to save the amount of money I needed to get out of debt.

Truthfully, A TON of things this year didn’t work out the way I had hoped for. Like living at home (I lasted six months before moving back to Orange County), or landing the full-time, high-paying, security blanket jobs I applied to. It bruised my pride for a while knowing this-knowing that the universe kept throwing me hard balls that I couldn’t dodge.

Nine months later and I’m now in a position where I can no longer accept anymore projects because I’m contracted with 50-60 hours of work a week until January 2019. Although I remind myself everyday that I’m blessed and booked, it hasn’t always been easy to celebrate such a fulfilling milestone.  And that brings me to what I wanted to talk about today: what is the difference between being positive and being optimistic?


When I think about being positive IN a situation, I think about how I’m reacting in the moment or at the present time. During the first week of the year, I was stuck in a soul-sucking hole criticizing the value of my being while I anticipated hearing back from potential employers. If there’s one thing I can improve on, it would be to be less critical of myself. I can be hard on myself. So hard that I practically bought myself to tears a couple of times during the first week. I made myself cry and I only have myself to blame!

I was so focused on what people were doing at that exact moment and how their actions and their perceptions of me would affect what I wanted that it prevented my ability to remain positive as I waited for a response.


Furthermore, when I think about being optimistic ABOUT a situation, I think about what my viewpoint is towards the future. In this context, being optimistic about a situation can and usually is dependent on how well I can be positive in a situation. For example, if I’m too anxious about hearing back from employers, worrying that I’ll receive rejection notices, my perception can be influenced to think that good things ARE NOT coming out of the current situation. As a result, I could therefore resort to the idea that there’s nothing to be optimistic about because in the current situation, only bad things are coming out of it.

What is the difference between being positive & being optimistic in a situation?

To me, the difference about being positive and optimistic is this: being positive is about staying grounded in our current state of mind whereas being optimistic is about brightly looking towards the outcome of a future. It took a while for me to be both during the year, but I do believe that it’s a part of why I’m in a better position today.

Once I decided to remain positive and accept the part-time job earlier this year, I found myself developing key relationships and skills that benefitted me at the time that I decided to relocate. It wasn’t until a month after the relocation that I felt more optimistic about what my future was going to be like. That was the moment that I realized that things were going to be OK in my life no matter what has happened this year. And truly, things are more than OK, things are great.

What is your idea of being positive and optimistic?

PS – more editor’s letters here.

2 Responses

  1. An interesting read, i enjoyed every bit of it. Recently, i’m trying to always have good thoughts especially when things aint going as planned. And it seems to be having a positive effect on me. Lately ive also observed i always have peace of mind.

  2. Hey Kanyi, having a peace of mind is absolutely correlated to our positive energy so keep it up! Sometimes it’s easy to NOT be positive, I know I get like this when I become highly self-critical. When I notice it happening, I just have to stop myself for a moment and reassess what I’m doing. That’s been helpful.

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