Adjusting Your Sails: Finding the Realist in You!

By , SparkPeople Blogger

"The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails."William Arthur Ward

I love this inspirational quote! I came across it last week after experiencing some major obstacles here at home. What I love about it, is the words sum up exactly how I have changed my attitude in the last 5 years-- going from one who used to view the world with great doubt and negativity to embracing every obstacle as an opportunity to learn or change direction.

Every morning for the past 3 plus years, I have started my day reading words of inspiration thanks in part to the SparkPeople Healthy Reflection email sent to my inbox every morning and my SparkPeople Day at a Glance Calendar. I am a true believer that motivational quotes help to inspire me to continue on this journey we call life, even when I can't quite seem to see my way out of the fog.

I believe there are three types of people in the world--the pessimist who always finds something wrong with everything around them. The optimist who can be quite charming, but many times be unrealistic in their views. And finally the realist, the one who can take something negative, find the positive from it and still understand that nothing ever goes as planned. While we may not be totally pessimistic, optimistic or realistic in every aspect of our lives, for me I do tend to lean toward one more than the others.

Having spent many years looking at life as a glass half-empty, I am learning to 'adjust my sails'. Although the journey is not always an easy one, I try to live and adjust to the day to day challenges that are sure to arise, not just for me, but my family as well.

In my past attempts at losing weight it was very difficult to find any positives no matter how hard I tried, especially if I knew that I was doing everything perfectly and the scale was not budging. I would begin the journey filled with vim and vigor only to see the flame die within a few weeks due to the changes not being seen on the scale. I let the scale determine my success or lack thereof. This is when I had to rethink my strategy. I decided once and for all that I was staying on this voyage no matter how long it took. That was almost 5 years ago and I am still hanging on.

To me one of the greatest tools in my arsenal for embracing healthy living is surrounding myself with others who share my passion--not just in running, but Pilates, strength training and mostly SparkPeople. I will never underestimate the value of strong a support system. Knowing that others believe in me when I begin to doubt my own abilities is what continues to guide me along this path. This has taught me to no longer look at every negative thing that happens in my life as something bad, but as an opportunity to "adjust my sails."

How do you cope when it comes to your attitude about not seeing the results you expect? Have you found yourself learning to adapt and adjusting your own sails?

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ROBBIEY 9/16/2019
I have always been a realist. I think positive first and then deal with what the outcome is at hand. Report
FISHGUT3 7/28/2019
thanks Report
KHALIA2 7/18/2019
Great blog!!! Report
KHALIA2 4/1/2019
Excellent blog! Thanks! Report
BONNIE1552 12/15/2018
Absolutely loved this! Thank you. After losing my husband, I have forgotten that I'm good at being a realist. I need to remember that and adjust my sails. The sails are in shreds at the moment, but still there somewhere. Report
Thanks for the Great post Report
Love the quote and also the referred above. If there is no wind, row. Report
I love re reading this article. I guess I am working on this issue quite a bit still :S
I thank you again for reminding me that all my obstacles can be utilized even for my benefit. Thanks :-) Report
Well said & this is me. I too have done the diet...everything right, obsessed - & lost no pounds. Exercised...& gained pounds.

I have decided that I am an optimistic realist. While we all plan for the future, if we worry - think pessimistically - we will miss out on today. I have learned to live today, for today. Tomorrow is coming, & I can make plans for tomorrow, but I can only live today!

With SparkPeople I am learning to not worry about tomorrow & 'the scale' will happen in it's own time if I persevere with today. Report
While I have not perfected realism, I have come a long way! Report
This is very thought provoking. Nice phrasing of things and Way to go. Two thumbs up on this one. I think I need to take your advice. Thanks for the Ideas. Report
Great blog and am constantly adjusting my sails try every day to stay poitive and most day succeed and on days that maybe do not meet with what others may consider success ask for help from above and rely on that one day at a time Report
AMEN TO THAT! Right now my sails on down. I haven't given up though. Support is very important. Without that I shudder to think where I'd be today!! As usual, Nancy, great blog! Report
Great post as usual Nancy!

That quote is so true. After some time we ALL have to readjust our focus to keep the ball moving. Report
Thaaaaannnnkkk youuuuuuuuuuuuuu! I needed this. I'm a realistic optimistic or an optimistic realist, whatever, but I get knocked down sometimes. You helped me get back up. Report
I feel the strength to continue sailing even though the scales remain unchaged while I exercise and maintain my calores within a losing range. Finally this week I see another 2 lb. loss after 3 weeks of no change. SparkPeople keeps my spirits up when my body is being stubborn. Report
Did you write this for me??? LOL I needed that more than you will ever know! I just give up when obstacles get in my way and since joining sparkpeople I have found myself getting back up when I knock myself down! Your blog was fantastic! Thanks for sharing your motivation with us! Report
Thanks for the inspiration. I like to analyze why I do the things I do and this was an easy way to look at how we as people process things.
Thanks Report
I always love your blogs, Nancy. I'm adjusting my sails as I write this... Report
I am a realist when it comes to weight loss. I am not going to beat myself or my body up about it. I weigh what I weigh (whatever that might be). I know weighing is a good barometer but I won't get on the scales until I think I can confirm reaching my goal. Meanwhile I'll just keep improving my diet and exercise program and I will SURELY get there. Report
I am an optimistic realist, married to a pessimist with a sense of humour! We adjust our sails and try to sail over the big breakers together, enjoying our own spaces when the waters are calm.

I really needed this message. So much that I blogged about it. Thank you! Report
I've lived by this quote for many years because I used to sail competitively. When sails are set properly, we control the wind. Report
Love the quote.. I would love to be a realist and am trying to be one.. My dh is a super optimist and is not even close to being a realist which puts us in deep trouble at times ! Report
I get frustrated, but I am an optimist . I have faith, and try to just keep moving forward. I tend to be emotional too. Sometimes it helps me to focus, other times the exact opposite. As long as I keep trying, learning, and growing I am doing okay. Report
Life is a pleasure! Report
Loved your blog. Good words to live by. I try to be a realist, but it is very difficult to do when you live with a pessimist. Thanks for the motivation.
I completely agree with this blog. I too tend to be realistic about things that happen to me in all areas of my life. Recently, I found how simple it can be to adjust when I just let go. Letting go has been a powerfull tool I use when I see that there is nothing else to do to turn things around and to my wonder they do just that. Have a great day everyone. Report
Thanks for the Great post !!! Report
Your story is inspirational. Expecting the worst and hoping for the best is how many of us live our lives, but it doesn't always have to be negative. Thinking this way is just a way to prepare for the unexpected. As I work on losing weight and improving my overall well being I am working on finding a balance in my outlook on life. Thanks.. Report
Thanks for a great quote and an awesome blog. It will motivate me for a long time. Report
Have hit my goal, but this quote will be very helpful in maintaining.

Thanks Report
Great quote! I am going to put it up in my cube at work.

I am at times an optimist, at times a pessimist, and other times a realist. I prefer the latter wholeheartedly!

I am truly afraid of not being able to maintain my weight. Over the past 6 months, as a post-op gastric bypass patient, I reached an all-time low weight of 153 pounds. Knowing I could not maintain such a low weight, I breathed easier when my weight bounced back to 158 ("bouncing back" is a common occurrence for gastric bypass patients). However, that number on the scale has crept up to 165, and seems not to budge. I always felt that 160-165 is where my body "settles" and likes to be, as that is the weight I maintained while in high school (and of course at the time, I thought being 165 meant I was fat!). Now I am trying to reconcile the "new me" with that number on the scale, and be okay with it. This touches on old feelings! I am working on being grateful for having my health (which I didn't have at 400 pounds), and on being able to do things (like ride a bike or hike a mountain or play tennis) that I haven't been able to do in years, rather than focusing on the number on the scale. I can't help but feel proud of how far I've come, but still worry that I'll backslide. I keep myself accountable by using that scale! But I am determined to watch the months tick by on the calendar, as I maintain this weight loss. Report
I LOVE this quote and have added to a small tag next to my computer screen. Thank you so very much. I have always believed that my glass is half full, not half empty and I have often relied on that saying to keep me going during rough times. But adjusting my sails more often would be a great way to help me stay on track with progress.

I can't thank you enough. Report
Fully agree one needs to keep a positive perspective on life & balance it by dealing with issues and changes in life as they occur making appropiate adjustments as needed to deal with them. You can also see the as being completely full - half with the "liquid" & half with air. While the half filled with air seems not to be practical for some - it is important developing to keep an over all perspective in your awareness & thus have an oppurtunity to use every bit of information available to you in solving daily issues & problems - some of which may have unique solutions coming from your increased awareness

Light512 Report
excellent blog. we need more like this Report
I gotta disagree with the quote, but only in part...
I absolutely dont think an optimist EXPECTS things to change.
As a 'closet' optimist myself, I simply HOPE for change!
Not the same thing AT all! Report
Learning to trust myself to know what to do has helped me relax instead of getting lost in doutes or high hopes. Report
thanks for sharing and providing more inspiration.. Report
I'm setting goals (and tracking them) for the first time in my life!
I believe that makes a whole lot of difference. Setting those goals are the ways I can adjust my sails and _make_ myself succeessful. The Spark Friends at my back also makes all the difference! Report
Words to live by... love my Spark inspiration, and thank you for doing your share.
Hiking out works the abs, too!
Thank you for this. I am in the same situation you describe -- I have been trying so hard and the scale isn't budging. The motivational minset you share is crucial to staying on track. Report
This is a good reminder!! Report
This is an great blog. I aspire to be a realist. Heck I'd settle for optimist. Report
This is especially helpful for me right now. I've been looking for some pick-me-ups right now because I have been dealing with a very difficult October and feeling a bit lost and out of sorts.

I am one of those eternal optimists that gets to a point of almost annoying people, but with what is going on in my life right now, I'm finding it difficult to cope. I've let my hard work go out the window and I have begun to stress eat again which is something I haven't done all year long and I was so proud of myself.

Now, I think I am going to decide that October is over and take a step in the direction of setting my sails. All is not lost, and I will have new goals and successes to be proud of. Thank you for the wonderful article. I know I will get through this time in my life if I take action and adjust to the changes.

Melinda Report
This is very similar to one of my favorite Jim Rohn quotes. "It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go."

I've learned that there are things I can't change, but I can change how I act or react to them. Sometimes the sailing is not alway smooth, but when I set my sail in the direction I want to go I usually get there. Report
My breakthrough was realizing that if I ate something that I wasn't expecting to eat, that it didn't mean the whole day was shot so I might as well eat everything in sight! Instead it became just a tiny glitch and I could move back in-step immediately.

Thanks for the great quote! Report
Very inspiring! I'm definitely in the beginning process of adjusting my sails but I know I'm on my way.
i always try to focus on the daily accomplishments such as eating well or getting in a good work out instead of the end goal. next you know, you wake up one morning, you're 10lbs lighter and you're not even sure how you got there. Report
What an inspiring blog...thanks! I will be copying the quote for myself and for my students. Report