Sometimes it’s good to see the glass as half empty

Posted: 22 August, 2013 in motivation, Staying positive, Uncategorized

(Source: Pete unseth, Wikimedia Commons)

A colleague once asked me if I was a “glass half full” or a “glass half empty” kind of person. I always find this type of question difficult to answer because there are two situations that determine my answer: what’s in the glass, and whose glass it is.

Most of us can be positive when it comes to dealing with others’ dilemmas. Who hasn’t had a friend sit down and offload their health or financial problems? Who hasn’t comforted this friend with, “Everything will be ok in the end” or “I’ll be there for you no matter what”? In these situations we are full of good intentions and cheer. Even when we don’t feel especially positive we manage to remain upbeat and encouraging under the direst circumstances. It’s always easy when we’re looking at someone else’s glass because we know the value of encouragement and positivity in tough situations and, as an outsider, we can often be more objective than the person drowning in misfortune. We can see the glass as half full and become the never-ending spring of optimism our friend needs.

The question is whether we can do this for ourselves.

Secondly, when there is something delicious in the glass, something I’m looking forward to drinking, the glass can be half empty (negative) because I want more of this delicious drink, or it can be half full (positive) because I still have half a glass of this delicious drink to go.

On the other hand, if the glass contains some foul-tasting medicine or a sour drink, thinking of the glass as half empty is a more positive attitude because it means I don’t have much left to go. Seeing the glass as half full in this case only means I still have half a glass of this putrid goo to devour.

So, if I’m doing something I love and I stay in the moment, enjoying what I have here and now, I’m more likely to keep the sunny outlook of a glass-half-full person. When my mind starts to wander to the past (what I no longer have) or the future (what I wish I had now) I will start to see only the emptiness of the glass.

Likewise, if I’m doing something I don’t particularly enjoy, I’m better off looking at what has already been accomplished rather that what I still have left to do, putting a more positive spin on the half-empty glass.

To keep the oomph in my life – and limit the grumph – I just need to keep these points in mind:

  • Try to think of what I would say to a friend going through this same situation. Look for the positive points that I may be missing and remind myself of these, repeatedly. Don’t lose sight of the end goal. Even if I have to call a friend and have them remind me why I’m doing this. that’s what I’ll do. This will reinforce those positive points.
  • Staying in the here and now is the way to stay happy. Looking at what I don’t have, or wish I had, or work I still have to do that I don’t want to do, is a perfect way to bring myself down. Keeping my mind in the present reminds me of what I have, what I have accomplished and will keep me focused on the task at hand.

Being a glass-half-empty person isn’t always a bad thing but it shouldn’t define me either. The beauty of us mere mortals is that we are adaptable. My glass is as full or as empty as I want it to be.

And if all else fails, I can just get a different glass all together.


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