I find it helped to distinguish between perky optimists, deep optimists, and cynics:

Perky optimists avoid their doubt and despair. They specialize in “life hacks”, technological solutions, back-to-basics short stories, and free market fairy tales.

Cynics are similar, really, but take refuge in darker abbreviations of the truth.

Deep optimists aren’t afraid to feel doubt or despair for hours or days or months, before they start to feel resolve. When their hope comes, it is slow and strong. It comes from noticing: the indomitability of the human spirit; the beautiful expressions that happen when we’re hopeless and broken; the possibility of quiet thoughtfulness in dark times; or the way our wills go fluid and unstoppable when we recognize our true circumstance.

Deep optimists don’t have quick answers, when you ask them how the world works, or what can be improved. Deep optimists are never sure what’s going to happen, here on Earth.

But they’ll get all quiet, and they’ll think about it with you.