Saturday, April 8, 2017

H is for Half – Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full? It Doesn’t Matter

The age old question of is the glass half empty or half full has been used to describe people and personalities for decades.  Many look at it as a way of classifying optimism and pessimism.  If you look at the world such that the glass as half full you are an optimist.  No matter what is going wrong, what problems may exist in your life you are always focused on what is going well.  If you looking at the world as being a glass half empty however, you would be a pessimist.   No matter what you have in life, what is going well you only focus on those things that make life more difficult.

This kind of outlook has always bothered me for two reasons.  First, while people may lean more towards one of these directions, we all have times when we are glass half full kind of people and those times when the glass seems half empty.  When the job we’ve been working towards in college and gaining experience in entry level gopher positions comes through our future is bright and nothing can go wrong. All is right with the world and those who are deserving are rewarded. When the promotion we’ve been promised if we work hard and pay our dues is given to the bosses nephew and we are fired the world makes no sense and there is nothing we can do to ensure that we get what we want. 

Yet both of these situations usually are tempered over time.  The person ecstatic over their dream job, discovers there isn’t such a thing as a perfect position.  The person who believes that what they do and what they achieve have no relationship finds a new job that may not have been quite what they wanted but which makes them happy none-the-less.  In other words, life isn’t static.  There are ups and downs and everyone has experiences that make them soar and others that bring them back to earth with a crash.  Optimists may rebound quicker and pessimists may take longer to accept that something wonderful really can be relied upon, but no one is optimistic or pessimistic all the time about everything.

The other related problem I have with this philosophy that how much water in the glass doesn’t matter since there are endless sources of water available to fill it up if you choose.  There are opportunities to find things that make us happy, and most importantly to find others to help us realize that when bad things happen that don’t make sense we have others we can depend on no matter what occurs.  We all have times when something causes us to question whether we will ever be able to create the life that we want. Yet when we have significant others in our lives to listen, reinforce that we are people worthy of others attention and love and to provide advice or other help so we can get back on our feet, we can put negative or unexplainable circumstances behind us and focus on the next chapter in our lives with the same hope and optimism with which we viewed the last episode.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether the glass is half empty or half full if we know there is a pitcher or water right next to the glass.

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