Realistic Optimism > Toxic Positivism

I was scrolling through Instagram today and caught a glimpse of this quote before I could see where it came from:

“Choose realistic optimism over toxic positivism.”

I have been getting quieter and quieter on social media for this reason. I am tired of the all toxic positivity I see. Don’t get me wrong. Being a positive person is a REALLY GOOD thing. It feels like it has gotten out of control and I think people need to be a bit more realistic at times.

I want to qualify for Kona. It is a dream of mine.  I am not athletically gifted, have a full time job (or 3), and a family to manage. I can be as positive as I want about this goal, but that isn’t enough to make it happen. People in my worls can tell me how positive they are that I will make this happen, but that won’t do it either. Instead I choose realistic optimism to guide my feelings about this goal.  I do what I can to work towards it but I also recognize, it may not be in the cards for me. Kona isn’t in the cards for everyone, no matter how much you have a positive attitude about it.

Please don’t misunderstood this post. I am not telling you you can’t do something. But if you are setting a goal for yourself that is big, please be realistic about your situation. And if needed, maybe adjust your goals a little  bit. That doesn’t mean forget the huge one. It means set up some benchmark goals to get you to the big one. Break it up in to manageable achievable chunks!

The tricky part of this is how do you interact with others who are being toxically positive versus realistically optimistic. I don’t know that answer. For me, it has been silence and a bit of withdrawal because I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy (sorry to you Nancys out there). Not the best approach, but it is the best I got!



  1. This is how I felt before I lost my weight. If I were to openly express my dissatisfaction with my weight, people would say “you look strong” … but in reality, I NEEDED to lose the weight. I get what you’re putting out there. It’s a tough pill to swallow for most. We’re all doing our best on our journeys towards big, possibly unattainable goals.

    1. But if you set some mid range goals for the possibly unattainable one, you may find it actually is possible. I think that is one of my points!

      I just can’t contribute to the “you look strong” part anymore.

      BTW, what you have accomplished is awesome! (This is not BS). Don’t stop now!

  2. I totally get where you are coming from. It’s tough and the realistic optimist opinion is often misinterpreted. I am a runner, cyclist, triathlete and winter endurance junkie who has done some hard, cool stuff but has bigger dreams too. None of the things I do are particularity easy for me nor am I really good at them without a ton of work.
    But big heath issues have also plagued me this past year and though I look “fine” there is more to it. I can’t lie and say it’s not been hard accepting things. I want to be riding my bike instead of going to specialist appointments then when I can ride my bike it is so very hard for my body. It isn’t cool to say out loud that maybe this isn’t the right time for pushing and pursuing the big dreams. The athletic world especially has the “suck it up, dont give up, push beyond your limits, stop whining and put in the effort” and I feel like such a failure just being realistic about what my body/life can achieve right now.
    So here is how I have chosen to look at all this- I still have big dreams; things I want to do, places to see etc. And I also realize that it takes true wisdom and courage to recognize the appropriate timing of things in my life. To take some things and put them on the back shelf for awhile and to try new things I never considered. Wisdom to keep my priorities where they need to be(family, health) and courage to hold to my belief that a good, thankful attitude will help me keep better perspective and when the time comes that I can tackle something “big”, I will know. Wishing you the very best.

    1. This is huge, “I also realize that it takes true wisdom and courage to recognize the appropriate timing of things in my life.” This is such a healthy way to see it. I am sorry you are struggling! I will cheer your successes now for sure!!

  3. I agree. Kona is no joke. That is why it is one of the greatest achievemnts one can make. True, being positive wont get you there but “hours and hours and hours of working on your craft”. It took me 4 years and 11 ironmans to qualify for my first one in 2016 and another 2 years and 4 ironmans to qualify again for 2019. Kona is within reach for those who make it the priority that extends years. Keep at it

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