Can Too Much Optimism Be Bad?

90% optimist. 10% pessimist = positive realism.

I thought Hoda Kotb’s quote from an interview about her memoir was great perspective on a question I get from a lot of 20-somethings: When is too much time in a relationship bad?

On spending 12 years on and off with her boyfriend and now ex-husband and how cancer snapped her out of her:

I’m an optimist, so I think everything can be worked out and fixed. But from having cancer I learned that even if you’re even an optimist, sometimes you just have to face the facts that certain things are broken. I think it taught me that. Optimism works in 90 percent of my life, but there is a window where you have to accept that certain things are not fixable and no matter how hard you try, and want it to work — sometimes you just have to cut your losses.”

It’s that turning point when you realize that “working on a relationship” is a lot different than “working something out”.  The former being a euphemism for…it’s not working…while the later implies a certainty that it will be worked out. If you find yourself working all the time…it’s time to let the realism in.


When it comes to fixing something out of your control, be it someone else or a situation at work, that’s where  optimism does need a little tempering. You accept it and then it’s time to go to plan b. Ask yourself, if this is not going to work, what will make me happy …or happier?  And how do I go about doing that?  Make a plan. That 90% optimism will take you there.


What you do learn by 40 is that while you can’t be optimistic about everything, you can be optimistic about yourself. And the things you thought were the end of the world at 20, aren’t. At the end of the day, you realize it will all be okay. You will be okay. So many 40 year old women have told me that should be the name of my book. And judging from what I hear when I do tune into the Today’s Show’s 4th hour…Hoda seems to be doing just fine!



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