Is your glass half-full or half-empty?

There is a saying that asks: “Is your glass half-empty or is it half-full?” The illustration on a poster I once saw was of one glass, the clear liquid cresting at a halfway mark. I thought the poster quite poignant and adopted it as a philosophy by which to live my life. At the time, I placed it in my classroom above the entrance door. The students sat at tables, each positioned so they faced that poster at all times.

I truly believe that if we read something over and over, we absorb it and it has an effect on us. In this case, I hoped it would initiate some food for thought in the students’ minds. My tactic proved fruitful when one day, a student asked me how I could be happy all the time. I corrected her by telling her that I really wasn’t happy “all” the time but that I try to see the positive in any situation (my glass being half-full). It’s our outlook. The teachable moment had occurred. And I know that student spent additional time thinking about the poster.

To me, a glass half-full implies not only do we have a reserve but we can add to it. Every smile we extend to someone, every positive thought we have of another, every door we hold open for a person, every compliment we give adds water to our glass. And it fills and fills and fills until overflowing. We have made a connection. And what a terrific feeling that is! I liken it to total joy, total exuberance. I am bursting with all that is good. I feel love just radiating out of me to each and every one. It’s the same feeling I get when I see a beautiful sunset or watch the gradual formation of a rainbow after a raging storm. I feel connected to something beyond myself. I feel connected to Mother Nature and she is showing me that beauty is within each of us. It’s there. We have only to see it.

So, I ask you: Is your glass half-empty or is it half-full? I have found that a glass half-empty is a downward slippery slope. From disappointment to discouragement to depression, we slip and slide, descending at an accelerating rate. And the quicker we slide, the harder it is to change direction. Our mind seems to focus on the negative and not just of the present situation. As it gathers speed it recalls more and more negatives that have occurred in our life until we hit rock bottom. It may feel like we have no resilience and no back-up.

There on the bottom, we attempt to dig ourselves out, shovel full by shovel full. It’s a tough climb, requiring tremendous amounts of energy and willpower. Have we learned anything from our experience? And what happens the next time we’re disappointed? What I try to do is change that point of focus and do something positive. It may mean going to Mother Nature, that place where we feel genuinely safe, the place that picks us up just by being there. Or it may mean going to that person like our best friend or neighbor or co-worker or religion who will accept us, support us and love us just as we are. By telling him or her how we feel and the specifics of our quandary, we may stop that downward slide. We need to switch the negative energies and remember all the positive things we have going for us — maybe our health, our smile, the color of our hair. We need to focus on the fact that we have food, a place to live, to work, to sit, to walk. There are so many positives that we forget about. We need to make a list and leave lots of room to add to it. Take deep breaths and feel the goodness and love that does abound out there and within ourselves. Tap into it and just Be.

For most of us, the level of water in our glass probably goes up a little as we begin our day and maybe down a little as the day proceeds, depending what occurs that day. Yet, if we can set our intention for the day towards filling our glass, we’re on our way towards a positive outlook no matter what challenges come our way. We can see that beauty around us and even feel the love. We can approach each challenge with more confidence, more patience, more understanding and acceptance. We’ll have all our capacities balanced and ready to meet whatever comes our way. Remember, the only guarantee in life is change. And it’s happening continually. So, why not look forward to it? Whatever else happens is but the icing on the cake, so to speak. And that icing can be very, very sweet.

I spent years wanting dinner and dancing to be the epitome for celebrating an important personal accomplishment. I went out to dinner a few times; I went dancing a few times. But somehow it never seemed to work out to do both in the same evening. It was terribly disheartening for me. I began dreading the next opportunity to celebrate something because I knew I’d be disappointed again and have to fight the down slide. Without realizing it, as I imagined the perfect evening time after time, it gained importance and value. And then, ever so subtly, it was no longer the dinner/dancing duo that was of value but the experience had transitioned to me being of value. How did that happen? It can. It did. I began to choose to switch the negative energies to positive ones and believe I had the power within me to do so. I’ve tried it and it works.

So, when we feel ourselves beginning to slide downwards, let’s stop … hang on … take a deep breath … look up … and then move in that upward direction to the rest of our life. Let’s fill our glass until it overflows.

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Debby Havas is an author living in Jay. Her writings describe her experiences in the healing energies of Mother Nature.


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