Half Full

There’s an old, old question that gets asked a lot – is the glass half full or half empty? A rather intellectual joke offers an interesting solution to that question. The joke goes: Question – What did the engineer say when he was asked if the glass is half full or half empty? Answer: Your glass is the wrong size. Thereafter is a long and involved explanation of why the engineer would answer in such a fashion.

At the time I heard it I was nonplussed. There was truth to the statement, but funny? Eh. But at odd times I would find myself thinking about the joke, like there was something that I wasn’t understanding. Eventually it dawned on me the engineer was right. But in order to understand the answer, first you have to understand the question.

Is the glass half full or half empty? Theoretically an optimist would say it’s half full, a pessimist the opposite. Generally, I tend to say it’s halfway. But that really doesn’t answer the most basic question – glass of what? Psychologically speaking it’s a glass of everything. To put it more simply, let’s consider it a measure of what we have versus what we expect to get.

If the glass is half full, is that really expecting too much? Shouldn’t we have goals and be reaching past what we already have to bigger and better heights? Yes. Absolutely. We should have goals, and be reaching beyond ourselves to new things.

At the same time, if we expect to double everything we already have, maybe we’re setting the bar a little high. And in doing so we’re setting ourselves up for assured disappointment, never quite reaching that miracle mark. We might be able to double our current situation, but it’s never going to happen in a single step. Thus we’re doomed to have a black cloud looming over us constantly.

This is what I found worked for me – I changed the size of the glass. Little steps. I went from wanting to have X number of books under my belt, to simply doing the best I can on the one I’m working on. I went from a standard of blogging once a week, to finding something I wanted to blog about. And now my glass is three quarters full, and I’m much happier for it.

Sometimes my wishes do get carried away, and I find my glass getting bigger. As a consequence the level starts dropping. I get carried away with the things that it would be nice to have. When I do I have to remind myself – little steps.


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