I place before you a glass. Slowly I pour water into it, stopping halfway to the top. I ask you, “Is the glass half full or half empty?”
Traditionally this analogy is used to compare optimism and pessimism. An optimist would see the glass as half full and a pessimist would interpret it as half empty. The position of the water in the glass doesn’t change but an optimist views only what is there while a pessimist sees only what is missing. We’re led to believe it is better to be an optimist, to see the glass half full.
You respond, “I’m a glass half full kind of person,” a degree of pride in your voice.
What if I told you it was even more important to be able to see that the glass is both half full and half empty at the same time?
Knowing that these two perspectives exist simultaneously gives you the power to choose how you view any situation. Rather than passing judgement, claiming it is better to focus on the positive, acknowledge that there are multiple points of view and that each are equally valid. There will be times when it is beneficial to decide the glass is half full, or half empty, or times when we truly need to appreciate that it is both.
Make the best of a situation:
Because my ex determines the schedule with the kids and decides who drops off on any particular day he has recently decided that I need to pick the girls up at the after school program and drive them to his house on the first night they are with him. Until this school year he would just pick them up but not anymore. I can choose to be angry that he continues to control such decisions, or I can enjoy the half an hour I get with the kids before they go to his house. When I choose to appreciate the extra time with my girls, I am deciding that the glass is half full.
Improve something that isn’t working well:
We write here on WordPress, hoping to reach an audience, build a following. If we don’t get the results we hope for we have a choice. We can “look on the bright side” and decide that it is better to reach 10 people than no one at all. Or we can examine what is missing,try to understand what we could do better. In doing so we decide the glass is half empty but we start to find ways to fill the glass to the brim.
Know that people have different needs at different times:
I’m camping this weekend and I fervently hope it doesn’t rain. But if you have a large garden in need of water then a storm would save you from going out with your hose and so you may be hoping for a shower to pass over. In this case we respond to the same situation differently. The glass is both half empty and half full at the same time.
Understand the point of view of someone else:
Driving across a long bridge with my niece one day she looked out her side of the car at dark clouds and crashing waves. “It’s about to rain,” she observed. Looking out the window on my side of the car the sky was blue and the water was calm, barely a cloud in sight. “It’s beautiful out,” I countered. This became a running joke between us that my kids fail to find funny, but shows that people can see two different things even standing in virtually the same place. Again, the glass is both half full and half empty but this time it is because we are looking in different directions.
So I ask you again, “Is the glass half full or half empty?”