24 March 2017 by victoriaknowe
Look at the glass. Would you say that it’s half empty or half full?
The answer to this simple question will supposedly reveal your perspective on life. Are you an optimist? Do you see the existence of milk in the glass as a sign that there is potential for more milk? Or perhaps you have a more negative outlook on life – presumably the glass was once full of milk and will soon be completely empty. This question is now so cliche that few take it to be a serious indication of anything.
A fresh perspective on the glass is also born of optimism with a healthy dose of relaxed acceptance. Simply this: The glass holds what it holds, and you can do whatever you like with the contents. The concept of “half-full vs half-empty” brings the empty space into focus. Switch your attention from that empty space and instead concentrate on what’s there:
What’s in the glass? Some milk. Awesome! Maybe you’re thirsty. Maybe you needed it for another unspecified milk-demanding purpose. Whatever your situation, having this milk is undoubtedly better than not having it. And the quantity of milk doesn’t matter if you adjust your expectations to be in line with what’s available. What does the glass hold? Just enough milk for your needs.
This perspective can be expanded to relate to many areas of life. Accept things the way that they are you will often find that you have what you need. Of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t work to achieve the things that are important to you (even the milk in the glass required a trip to the fridge). But the point is that life can be a lot simpler if you focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t have. Happy people are rarely the ones chasing money or fame. They are more often the ones who are content with their lot and enjoy what they have to the fullest.
Defensive Pessimism – a good thing?
I’ve always had an optimistic outlook, but today I encountered an interesting idea: Defensive pessimism. While pessimism is often considered to be a negative thing, defensive pessimism could be a useful strategy to cope with pressured situations. If you adopt a strategy of defensive pessimism it means that you assume that everything will go wrong with your upcoming presentation/interview/(insert pressure-inducing situation here), and as a result you do so much extra preparation work that things go smoothly because you are always prepared for the worst.
I can see that this could work for some people, but I honestly find the idea exhausting. All that worry over things that are probably never going to happen. An optimist still prepares well for their presentation, but they see no need for over-preparation. Optimism means that you assume that things will go well. If they don’t, you find a solution. And if you fail to find a solution and everything goes pear-shaped, then perhaps you will learn something from the whole situation. Either way, everything will be fine and you can spend the extra time enjoying life.
Today I had a great example of optimism at work. I had coffee with a friend who currently has several different projects on the go. Recently she had been experiencing problems in all of the projects, and she was starting to feel very down about the whole situation. However a few days ago she received a phone call that cleared up all the problems in just one of the projects. Even though this project was in no way related to the others, she immediately felt brighter about all of the outcomes. Logically, this doesn’t make sense, but such is the power of optimism. Sometimes you only need one thing to go right, in order to feel better about everything else. That one piece of success is just enough.
Are there any exceptions to this “just enough” rule? Of course there are. One can never have enough tea for example. But even a half-full cup is better than no tea at all.
Savour what you have, ladies and gentlemen.