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December 15, 2008 at 3:27 am
Wow, that’s a loaded question! I have to reflect on my parents, myself, and my children to tackle this one. As the youngest of seven, with the same two parents, I see that my siblings and I have different perspectives on the glass dilemma, with some of us looking at it half-empty and some half-full. I definitely used to be the half-empty type and can attest that you can absolutely reprogram your mind and your life to half-full or overflowing if you really want.
I think fear is a big factor in how we perceive the glass. When I occasionally feel it creeping back in I tell myself there is no glass. I rationalize that sometimes I am optimistic and sometimes pessimistic, and that I shouldn’t pigeon-hole or put any labels on myself. Just go with the flow wherever the water takes me.
I try to fill myself on the inside with my faith, family, friends. Affirming who I am, and pursuing my purpose gives me confidence to share what I feel and learn from others. We’re all in this together and wherever there is a need, if you look, you will find help along the way.
What really troubles me is that I’ve been noticing my six-year-old daughter drinking from that half-empty glass. If one little thing goes wrong on an otherwise great day, she proclaims it to be her “worst day ever!” Her little brother picks up on this and has adopted the same phrase, although I am certain he’s just mimicking her words and seems to have a more balanced outlook in his young life.
I don’t want my either of my kids feeling that their happiness depends on the circumstances around them, so I have to be very diligent in teaching them that there’s no use crying over spilled water, even if it leaves the glass empty. We can still be full inside no matter what. It’s our choice.
December 15, 2008 at 3:28 am
I think that I’m a bit of both, depending upon the situation. However I will say that I am definitely a lot more optimistic these days, since my weight loss and fitness transformation, so I’m definitely of the opinion that we can definitely retrain our brains, and that our physical well-being and fitness is a huge factor in our mental state.
December 15, 2008 at 4:22 am
Whoa! I love this post, AND the comments already!
I tend to think I am optimistic, typically. Although, optimistic with a bit of ‘realistic’ added in. Like Andrew (AJH), I am more optimistic since I began my health transformation, several years ago. So, I DO think that you can retrain yourself. Being healthy gave me a whole new outlook on life, and what is possible.
And, I love what Elliedee has said about being full inside, no matter what the circumstances around us – or, if we feel a bit more pessimistic (because, I think, someday’s we do). In the end, our true happiness should not be dictated by external world (although it has a definite influence) – it should come from that internal barometer we have. I hope that mine sees the world as being genuinely good, full of hope, and filled with love…
December 15, 2008 at 4:25 am
Well, in my opinion, there is NO DOUBT that you can re-train your brain to be optimistic! We train our brain daily through sources like the media and our peers about what behavior is acceptable, the definition of beauty and even down to what is morally and ethically suitable. Learning to re-program what you believe starts with someone realizing that, “I control this internal dialogue. No one controls my thoughts and actions except me.” Then taking steps towards changing those thoughts to be positive, self-fulfilling and at the same time, realistic.
EVERY DAY I take the time to think about the gifts that I have in life. I think about the decisions I made that day and my responsibility for those decisions and how, if anything I could do to amend undesirable situations in the future because we all make mistakes, what is important is what you do with them!
My glass is half full Miz! Thanks for the thought provoking post!
December 15, 2008 at 4:57 am
Im with you lance on the great comments ALREADY.
now that I ponder I am beginning to question if I have always been inherently “my glass is so full may I pour a little into yours?” or if Ive trained myself to be that way from a young age.
my gut says for me it’s the former—but Ive been looking forward to hearing the Bumbling Band’s thoughts on all this as I know, as always, it will make *me* think/re-examine as well.
December 15, 2008 at 5:46 am
I think I’m a cynical optimist.
Basically, I generally see the good in just about every situation, and I’m very good at pouring some of my glass into other peoples’ if the situation calls for it. However, at the same time I’m cynical about stuff out of my control. Like tech support lackeys. I can’t help be cynical about them, right?
I am with Andrew. My glass is situational.
I also find that I get through some of the hardest times easily. Some of the smaller things tend to tip my glass over.
On age, pfft. I am headed toward 50 in less than 2 years and as long as they stock L’oreal hair color I say….. Bring it on!
December 15, 2008 at 5:50 am
I am definitely an optimist, but it’s something which has only really come to me in the last few years.
I used to be GLASS BROKEN.
Going through a super-tough time, losing people close to me, coming close to death myself, ALL these things have made me come out stronger. It changed me completely.
I truly believe now that life is what you make it. If you surround yourself with positive thoughts and positive people, then you’re only going to make life better for you and everyone around you.
Bad stuff happens to everyone. It’s how you deal with it that counts.
Natalia Burleson says
December 15, 2008 at 5:51 am
hmmm I think that when we are born we have a personality. I think that as growing up what happens to us, from how we are talked to and loved, to what we witness, shapes us even further and helps us to become the person we are. Having said that I also believe that we make choices on how we respond to things that happen to us and around us. I believe that we can choose to look at our glass as half empty, half full, or overflowing. I think that my tendencies are to be half empty (especially when the hormones are flying…sorry guys), I do try to pull myself out of that and change how and what I’m thinking to view it as half full. But after this video instead of going half full, I’m gonna have to try for over flowing!!!! 🙂 Great facetime Miz! Very thought provoking!
December 15, 2008 at 5:55 am
By nature? I’m a “somebody spit in my glass” kinda girl…
Right now? I’m riding the waves. Sure the economy is in the toilet and things are bad, but they’re bad for all of us so I have decided not to cower and whine. Because you can be the decider!
Can we please pause in the action to wish Bag Lady a very happy birthday? I know what I’d fill her glass with…
And, for those of you who don’t already own a cart smart bag? My most awesome motivational partner sent me one, and they are truly a must have. BIG LOVE here (for the bag and the partner).
December 15, 2008 at 5:57 am
INTERESTING. I love the notions of cynical optimist or the glass being situational as well.
and am SHOCKED that you, TA, used to be glass broken!
you seem nothing like the person to whom I am referring and your comment does make me think we can then shift ENTIRELY if we want it badly enough.
But after this video instead of going half full, I’m gonna have to try for over flowing!!!!
as hokey as it may sound I dont have the time right now (being full time babymama as well as writer) to VOLUNTEER in a traditional capacity.
so that’s my volunteering some days.
looking around as I muddle through my day and SEEKING people into whose glass I might pour some of mine.
trying to brighten their day as SO MANY PEOPLE have done for me along my way.
AND I was waiting for her to come and drop by but HAPPPPPY BIRTHDAY BAG LADY!!!
please to visit her today and wish her well!
December 15, 2008 at 5:58 am
giggling that we were typing at the same time Marianne.
if youre still around please to tell us about the bag!
December 15, 2008 at 6:13 am
Hmmmm. We can be both as the wind blows and tide turns. Me? I’m half-full most of the time. Even with my current stress over a pre-holiday deadline LOOMING over me, I can almost always find the humor inside the situation…sometimes it’s “gallows humor” but humor at any rate.
Some of this is inherent – my younger brother and I have my father’s resilience and see each new challenge as just one more thing whose ass needs kicking; my older brother has my mother’s “fatalist-worse-case-scenario” view of the world. We-uns of the good humor have a lot of fun in our lives, which me usually make; Them-uns who sees the world thru the dark side are never happy or satisified. That’s why holidays are such a trip around here.
Make it a great day!
December 15, 2008 at 6:18 am
First, it is totally possible to change your glass-view! I am so much less the victim than I was 10 years ago, and it’s great to age because it does that for you, gives you the persepective to recognize when you’re delusional and it’s really not working for you.
As for situational glass-view, I try to separate my expectations from my view. I don’t think recognizing that it would be wise to have low expectations in a particular situation is the same as viewing that glass as half-empty.
Lori L. says
December 15, 2008 at 6:24 am
AWESOME face time this morning, Miz!!
This is almost a nature vs. nurture exploration, isn’t it? I’ve always been completely fascinated by this subect.
I tend to get a little HALLELUIA SPIRITUAL when it comes to this subject, because I believe wholeheartedly that we all have it within ourselves to positively embrace our lives.
How many times do we see people who experience unmentionable horrors in life, only to use their pain for the betterment of themselves and others? I think stories like these are one of the greatest testaments to the possibilities within us.
Miz, you mentioned volunteering. I think how we treat ourselves (cherishing our physical, mental and spiritual health) and how we treat others (like volunteering) are the two areas in our lives to focus on to fill our glasses.
What’s that old saying? Something about “life is 5% what happens to you and 95% attitude…” I butchered it, maybe somebody else knows the exact words.
Everybody have a great day!! 🙂
Strong One says
December 15, 2008 at 6:35 am
I live my life by keeping the P.A.C.E.
Keep it real girlfriend!
December 15, 2008 at 6:38 am
I’m also pushing 40 and have made a conscious decision that “I’ve only just begun” and “I’m getting better all the time”. I’m big on positive self-talk and believe we can not only retrain our minds, but through the mind/body connection affect our physiology through loving and optimistic affirmations.
December 15, 2008 at 6:41 am
and create new neuropathways?
Come on scientists.
Please to OUT yourselves.
December 15, 2008 at 6:42 am
Still around – between shifts right now. The bag? Wow. The pictures on her blog? Do it no justice. I can’t even begin to tell you how pretty it is! The inside pockets and the straps coordinate with the fabric, and I think even the button matches (it’s in the car right now). It has a compartment into which I have folded and placed all 10 of my reusable grocery bags. The inside apockets that can hold dang near anything you want. Mine is customized (yes, be jealous) with a board that goes over the baby seat to hold a clipboard and as a bonus will keep my purse hidden (constantly walking off to read labels). The bag hangs from the handle, so all my reusable bags don’t take up valuable cart space (I’m feeding a husband and 2 boys – that cart is full!) Also? I have packed it like an overnight bag. Don’t know why she isn’t famous yet…
I second that. Thanks Marianne!
Mr. Meltdown says
December 15, 2008 at 6:45 am
I am definitely without a doubt, Optimistic about everything! I was just watching Joel Osteen yesterday. He was talking about a similar topic, about how we have to think positive. He made a great point saying that “when ever negative thoughts come into your mind just change the channel”.
That is kind of how I am living these days being optimistic that I will be the BIGGEST LOSER winning at my diet when this is all done! So I keep my life on the POSITIVE CHANNEL. That way I only see positive things to keep me inspired. This is why I read your blog, it is just heavy with positive and I dig that totally! 🙂
December 15, 2008 at 6:54 am
Natalia asks (I wanted to move this/post this here so more people might see and comment):
wow I would love to eat all things in moderation! Another facetime topic, can you make yourself into a person that does that?
December 15, 2008 at 6:57 am
I’m definitely an optimistic person. I do admit i try to find the best of any given situation or person for that matter!!
That is not always easy 🙂 but it does make for a lot less stress in my life!! That is why they call me spunkysuzi or little miss ray of sunshine!!
I love and hate the monday facetimes.
I come here first thing—and always leave with my brain hurting from things.
GREAT POST MIZ.
I shall return when my kids are off to school
December 15, 2008 at 7:00 am
this hit far too close to home as I would be lying to myself (and the Band) if I didn’t acknowledge the fact that I am a glass half broken.
for me it started as a form of protection and now that I might not need the mechanism I still do it as a default mindset.
I know it is said here all the time but THANK YOU MIZFIT FOR A WONDERFUL POST.
the defining of the glass broken was really a eye opener for me.
Diana's Body Journey says
December 15, 2008 at 7:02 am
It also impacts memory and intelligence as we age – it impacts what you seek out. It also impacts self-efficacy, which has been known to impact memory.
Even though I teach the importance of optimism with aging, I’m still a pessemistic person a lot of the time:( I try, but I’m there by nature and it’s been a constant battle to not be a downer!
Even reserch is contradictory on whether it changes or not. Can you change it deliberately? I think so. It’s just really difficult. Fake it till you make it 🙂
Not that all pessimistic people are downers 🙂
Tom Rooney says
December 15, 2008 at 7:05 am
I’m a very optimistic person by nature and as far back as I can rememeber I’ve been this way.
As for aging and extending life, I guess I’m positive that I’m getting older simply by the calander but not how I feel.
There was a great coach from NC State named Jim Valvano who died from cancer, but had a wonderful outlook on life. He lived by 3 rules that made him be the person that he was.
1. Make sure you laugh every day
2. Have faith and reflect in thought each day
3. let your emotions move you to tears
If you can do those, you have a really full day.
Here’s a link of his speach that was given at the ESPN ESPY awards
December 15, 2008 at 7:08 am
hmm, i’m not sure whether we’re born with it, but the environment which we grow up in I’m sure influences this. i noticed, maybe a year ago, that there was one person in my life that was totally a glass half empty (maybe even broken a little), that was really making me feel that way. As much as I tried to get them to see that life wasn’t all that bad, it never worked. Now I try to minimize time with them, because it’s taken it’s toll on me and now I have to recover! We need reminders, I guess, about positivity 😉
Dr. J says
December 15, 2008 at 7:25 am
I guess it depends on whether I’m saying it or you are hearing it 🙂
Leah J. Utas says
December 15, 2008 at 7:26 am
I need a bigger glass. I’m an optimist to the point that pessimists annoy the hell out of me. I can’t be around them too long or my thoughts are filled with a joyous vision of defenestration.
My MIL is of the view, “There is no glass. There’s never been a glass, and if there was a glass it would be too small and it would be broken and it would cut me. I am glad there is no glass!”
I blew up at her one day and ended up asking “Hasn’t anything good ever happened to you?!” She was so surprised she stumbled around and dug up a positive response. I left her alone after that as I was afraid the shock might do her in.
December 15, 2008 at 7:40 am
leah that is PRICELESS.
Don’t imagine your MIL would do a guest post here?
Now that would be some fun stuff…
Tom? I spent years in Chapel Hill NC and know Jimmy V well. thanks for the reminder.
December 15, 2008 at 7:43 am
I have always always been a glass half full kind of girl, sometimes to a fault. I always try to see the good in all situations… but let me say, if I ever have a “glass half empty” moment, i may as well dump the glass out, smash it on the ground and then eat the pieces, because there is NO convincing me otherwise!
dragonmamma/naomi w. says
December 15, 2008 at 7:57 am
Shit happens…which means there’s a pony in there somewhere!
Yeah, I’m an optimist, as you probably guessed. Like others have pointed out, “stuff” happens to everyone; it’s all about how we react to it.
December 15, 2008 at 8:13 am
Hi lovely…what a perfect face time for me today. After my pity party last night I realized that you need to see something positive every day. I tend to be “glass half full” because I lived the other way and it did not make me happy….this way of life does.
Happy Monday and thanks again for your support.
Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) says
December 15, 2008 at 8:20 am
“Glass broken” – how sad! I love what the daily affirmations with you daughter. Even though you said, you are usually being silly, your words will leave an impression on her. I think that is awesome!
If left up to my own devices, I can be a pretty negative person, but I don’t like negative people, or at least being around them. They bring me down. I try and remember this before I open my mouth. I want to be thought of as a positive person, and lift up those around me. With this in mind, I stay more of “glass half full” kind of gal. I definitely think we can re-train ourselves to have a more positive outlook.
December 15, 2008 at 8:21 am
Oh I strive to be an optimist, and in most situations I think I am one- but I’m with Mara, once that glass is empty, there’s no refill!!
Thanks so much for the comment- I’ve been following your blog for quite some time, so I felt like a celebrity was reading (and giving props to) my work, thanks for making my day!
December 15, 2008 at 8:27 am
December 15, 2008 at 8:28 am
OMG Miz… my glass is broken? I was making my bed while listening to this facetime, and I seriously gasped at that point. I can’t believe there are people like that out there. That makes me sad. Anyway, I’d say that nowadays, I’m much more glass is half full. I’d love to become a “glass overflowing” girl, but I’m just not there yet. There are still some things that I need to take care of with me, before I can share with others.
December 15, 2008 at 8:42 am
I am an optimist for the most part. I try to convey that to my patients also, especially when I have to hand them “bad news.” There I times when I am a straight shooter and have to pose as a pessimist but that’s only because I’m am being honest with someone and I may come off as being pessimist. Sometimes people don’t like hearing the truth and think you are being negative(pessimistic) Does that make sense? For Ex: Sir you have to stop smoking and lose weight or you will be dead in 10 years! “Whatever! you are just being pessimistic.” Sadly I have to do that too much.
Outside of work, I see the positive side to everything.
December 15, 2008 at 8:52 am
I am very optimistic but there are times that the fear will creep in but I know that the negativity is part of life and that I control who I am. What a great question thanks Mizfit!
December 15, 2008 at 8:58 am
Oh, I know this one, pick me! Oh wait, we all get to answer. 🙂
I KNOW you can retrain your brain – in the words of Ron White, I’ve seen me do it. For the first almost thirty years of my life, I was so emphatically a “half-empty/ broken/who in the he** keeps messing with my glass!” type…even I didn’t like being in the same room with me. I’ve spent the past, oh, seven years or so teaching – and reminding- myself that not only is the glass half full, it’s not really a glass at all – it’s an enormous, gorgeous trough of wonderfulness that is connected to the troughs of everyone else in the world, and every drop I add to it benefits not only myself, but everyone around me.
Having said that…that is not to say that I don’t have days when I slide a little into old half-empty habits – but I have to say, I’ve gotten remarkably adept at catching myself before I get very far into that mindset. Nowadays, I sort of avoid optimism or pessimism, because both sort of speak to me of ignoring the reality and seeing what we want to see, be it bad or good. I strive for realism, as in patiently and lovingly accepting people and things the way they are, and looking for things I might be able to do to help them be even better. (Strive for, don’t always achieve.)
It takes time, and effort, and it’s an enormous spiritual and psychological journey – but it absolutely can be done. The problem is, if you’re really convinced the glass is half empty – or broken – you probably aren’t going to be convinced that the journey is possible, let alone worthwhile…for me, the effort was one of necessity, and only the fact that I was poisoning my children’s souls by being so negative made me undertake it at all.
Which brings me to my thoughts about your efforts with the Tornado, Miz. I think it’s absolutely stellar – because based on personal observation, the parent’s behaviors and interactions with the child are the single most formative influence on the child’s personality that there could ever be. Some of it is nature, sure – but I’ve seen a lot that makes me think a huge amount is nurture.
Very thought-provoking facetime! 🙂
December 15, 2008 at 9:00 am
I’m the eternal optimist. People have come to EXPECT nothing but happiness and cheer from me. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. Maybe I’m annoyingly optimistic.
I don’t know because I’m enjoying life too much!
December 15, 2008 at 9:06 am
peeking in. kikimonster? heather? oh that I were exaggerating too. although I must admit that the more I focus on seeing the positive in all things (*all*) the more exaggerated the negative nellys appear when I encounter them.
shosh? thanks for stopping by as I did fret last night that you mightcould misinterpret my comment about the sadness soiree. glad you didnt.
and EverInsightfulV? I cling to this:
based on personal observation, the parent’s behaviors and interactions with the child are the single most formative influence on the child’s personality that there could ever be. Some of it is nature, sure – but I’ve seen a lot that makes me think a huge amount is nurture.
speaking of which, Im off to BE PRESENT.
December 15, 2008 at 9:08 am
Optimism….the glass is always half full! Correct? 🙂
Crabby McSlacker says
Dang, that was so inspiring I may have to change my name from Crabby to Perky McSlacker!
I’m a pessimist, but a Very Appreciative Pessimist. Which means I don’t tend to expect more than an empty glass. But when I get a half-full glass I’m all hooray, that’s better than I thought!
So I think there’s a certain kind of pessimist who can actually enjoy life almost as much as an optimist. The trick is to appreciate the disasters that didn’t happen today. And to prepare for, but not dwell on, any Bad Things that could happen tomorrow.
December 15, 2008 at 9:10 am
Good question! It is nice to wake up in the morning to something like this.
I’m for sure a glass half full person naturally. Sometimes I think my optimism kinda scares people. But at the same time I ALWAYS prepare myself for the worst- in the back of my mind I’ll think “okay the worst that could happen is ___”… I think its so that I can put it into perspective and realize that in every bad situation, it could be so much worse, and then I can handle it all.
So I guess its a bit odd that I’m glass half full but often thinking about what bad things could potentially happen- but somehow it works for me, makes me more grateful and enjoy and love life that much more.
December 15, 2008 at 9:23 am
I would say that my natural leaning is to be cup half empty but I really strive to be my cup is overflowing can I share some of mine. I had a rough upbringing which tends to make me always skeptical but a few years ago I made the decision to let my childhood be behind me and try to live in the here and now. The negativity can silently creep in when I’m least expecting so it takes me being always aware of how I am feeling and speaking. I really like what you said about speaking it, Miz, because our words (in both our inside voices and outside voices ;)) can be very powerful.
Bottom line for me- I have 3 beautiful healthy babes, a rockin’ hubby, roof over my head, food in my belly (with a wee bit more protein now :)), I’ve got it really good. Now what can I do for those who don’t?
Great thought provoking Facetime.
December 15, 2008 at 9:29 am
I needed this reminder because I am a naturally optimistic person who has been supremely negative lately.
Life has thrown me a lot of curve balls but now that I am confronted with it I think that at other times of my life I may have been more resilient.
I need to refind my optimistic roots, Miz.
Thanks for the reminder I love the facetimes.
December 15, 2008 at 9:32 am
perky mcslacker 🙂
Ive met you in person, Woman.
Id say it is more perky mcmellowfeelgoodcalmingeffectontheMiz.
I have 3 beautiful healthy babes, a rockin’ hubby, roof over my head, food in my belly (with a wee bit more protein now :)), I’ve got it really good. Now what can I do for those who don’t?
IMO merely walking around all day every day with that final question as your backdrop is the answer.
when we view life through that lens there are opportunities all around us.
December 15, 2008 at 9:38 am
I always try to focus on the positive, and that has made a big difference in my life. I see things as not obstacles, but challenges and this gets me to think through problems instead of just feeling them and flailing around.
I firmly believe that what you project out comes back to you, so the more positivity I can project outwards (or inwards, really), the more benefits I will reap from that, and maybe change a tiny piece of the world while I’m at it. 😀
December 15, 2008 at 9:39 am
I’m sure we are born with an outlook on life. Me? I’m a glass 3/4s full kind of gal.
However, I believe our surroundings can affect us. My spouse is cynical (he says realistic), and I’ve noticed that years of living with him has tempered my optimism. He has conditioned me to often think less optimistically about him or things in his life. So I have a chunk of my life that is is glass 1/4 full.
We talked about this a couple weeks ago. He has no desire to really change his outlook, but was disturbed to have his negativity thrown back in his face. Guess he felt my attitude was a counter-balance. (sorry optimistic but depressed will not counter balance curmudgeonly.)
I think we can reprogram our belief once we become aware of it. It would not be easy. It would mean monitoring our thoughts, stopping the negative and consciously rewording and affirming the positive.
When I set out to change my language so I would ask “may I.. instead of Can I..”? it took nearly two years to successfully do it. I imagine reprogramming a negative reaction to a positive would take at least as long.
December 15, 2008 at 9:45 am
here you go:
December 15, 2008 at 9:46 am
I was a pessimist, although now I’m leaning more toward optimism. (Thanks to BK and my friends). I think that the people you surround yourself with have the most impact on your view.
December 15, 2008 at 9:49 am
My glass is overflowing, almost all the time. I know you can change because my husband was way pessimistic 8+ years ago, and while I wouldn’t say he is overflowing, he has come a long way from his glass is broken mom and sister. I think environment has a lot to do with it. My mom was big on getting us thinking. If something was broken she would ask us what we could do to fix it instead of coming in and saving the day. Forgot your homework? What did you work out with your teacher and what can you do next time to remember it? She taught us to take responsibility for us and in turn, we are all pretty optimistic people because (I think) we know that we are in control of most of what happens to us because of how we react to it.
I do have a friend that I would classify as pessimistic, but she says she is realistic. I say she has the power over most of what happens to her and her family through their choices, whereas she feels like they are a victim of circumstance. BUT (this is going to sound so snarky) if I were in her situation, I know that I would be dealing with it differently and making more out of it.
December 15, 2008 at 9:55 am
I REALLY think you can “train” the brain to be one or the other. That said, I tend to be more pessimistic, but I don’t like to use that word. I am more of person with an extremely high uncertainty avoidance . So I think of the worst possible scenario in order to be ready if an unpleasant surprise comes
December 15, 2008 at 10:03 am
wow… ok, there’s a lot here.
First thing I’d like to address is the studies you quoted showing that people who viewed the world as “glass half empty” had more illness, pain, and even reactions to flu vaccine.
One thing we have to keep in mind is that the studies show correlation, not causality. It’s entirely possible that people who suffer more pain, more illness, and even reactions to the flu virus see the glass as half full because their situations have been unhappy, not because they are by emotional nature unhappy people.
I don’t consider myself an optimist or a pessimist. I consider myself a realist. I personally think there are a lot of dangers in either of these views. I think that people who are perpetually optimistic at times loose their sense of personal responsibility. That they think that everything is going to go well regardless of what they do (or don’t do) themselves. That some of them expect to have miracles occur in their lives when they should be pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.
The idea of surrendering or offering up trials to fate, the universe, or God always struck me as being a surefire way to failure. While there are things we have to let go of in our lives, I think it’s also important to accept that if we let go of them they’re dropped… not picked up by some greater fate. And I’ll give you an example of this.
I could very well sit home all day and meditate and pray and give my weight loss over to my ‘higher power’ because I’m ‘helpless’ in the face of food addiction. However, I’m pretty confident that were I to merely assume that if fate and God wanted me slender and fit that I’d be so, that I wouldn’t lose a pound or increase my fitness. What I have to do I have to do through MY OWN EFFORT.
Now that’s not to say that every optimist sheds every ounce of personal responsibility, but that in the little day to day things,that does tend to happen.
The same problem occurs with pessimists, the “I’m doomed so why even get started” mentality is a real block to any kind of progress in any domain of life.
I think the best way to look at life is that when the glass is half empty, it’s also half full. When the glass is half full, it’s also half empty. and when the glass is broken, you darn well better go to the cupboard and get a new one.
You’re main question is whether or not we can change how we think, or if the “half empty/ half full” thing is somehow ingrained in us.
Well, from a purely scientific point of view, I’d have to say there is enough evidence to say that we’re PREDISPOSED to either optimism or pessimism, but that environment and experience shape our actual attitudes. I’d also say that it may be more difficult for an individual who is genetically predisposed to depression to become Little Mary Sunshine (without chemical intervention) that it’s entirely possible.
I think that the idea needs to go beyond whether you see your glass as half empty or full, but whether or not you believe that you can fill or empty your glass. A positive outlook, sense of personal responsibility, and strength of conviction, I believe, are more important than how you currently view your glass.
For me, I’d say that I’ve had an unusually difficult life… I mean way beyond the norm. And that there have been times in my life where I felt that I’d be a happier individual if I just sat on the front porch and drank vodka with the welfare moms in the projects instead of putting up the big fight for my health and the health of my kids.
As a realist, I don’t think that I’ll achieve the big house, the nice car, the trips around the world. I know that when I decided to have children I rolled the dice, and that having handicapped kids has been the controlling factor in much of the last 25 years of my life (and that I CHOSE that). As a realist, I still work toward smaller dreams: a home or condo of my own, a newer car, maybe another degree or two. But I can see both the area of the glass of my life that is full and the area that is empty, and work on being nourished from the full part and working to add to the empty part.
I think it’s also important to be able to be happy with whatever liquid is in the glass, to see the stuff there IS and have joy in it while being perfectly aware of the empty.
I see the world as half full of and half empty of possibilities. There are times I have to focus on both of those aspects. I’ll say in the past that I’ve had to put a lot of time and effort into the empty portion of the glass, and have only over the last few years (since a hopefully erroneous kidney cancer diagnosis) really taken the time to look at and appreciate the full part.
So in a sense, yes, you can retrain. You can change your focus without narrowing it… I think that genuinely happy and empowered people can revel in the full part while being aware of (even if they’re limited by) the empty part.
um… does all that make sense to you?
December 15, 2008 at 10:07 am
Super Mon. vid! I think my take on this has to do with a very optimistically slanted upbringing, so I believe at least a large part of my world view is environmental – The glass is generally more than 1/2 full. Now.
A few years ago, the glass had a bit of a drought, however – it took a few years to refill to the line that feels more mentally healthy. (This is weird!) And yes, Miche’s physical state is entirely dependent on her mental state. And part of my job is to help others “up” the water levels in their glasses. The act of doing that raises my level of optimism. Anyhoo – some thoughts – too long and… gotta go to work! Thanks for the provocative vid! Miche
December 15, 2008 at 10:09 am
it makes sense and then some Kate.
Ive emailed you privately but shall share here that you are an amazingly strong woman and it is, indeed, an effort and a choice. you have tremendous strength of conviction.
thanks for making the time to share…
miche? what is this (fingerquote) WORK (unFQ) of which you speak?! 🙂
on that note:
ARE YOU A JUGGLER? FOR FUN OR FOR EXERCISE? leave me a comment….I may have a question for you.
December 15, 2008 at 10:13 am
I am a realist. Which means, in the current analogy, that “the glass has water in it.” Sometimes it has more water, sometimes less, but it has only been broken once, during a particularly bad patch of life.
Then, I got a new glass and put water back in it. Or maybe I should say I put coffee in it?
I do think we can retrain ourselves to be more optimistic/realistic, but it takes time. Often it means overcoming some long held views of ourselves and the world, and realizing the value in everything we do and come in contact with. It’s not an easy road, I’m sure, but I’d say it’s probably worth it!
December 15, 2008 at 10:19 am
wow there are some great LONG comments on here!!!! I think that we are born more with a little of both and as our personality progresses we become more of one or the other. For me, I choose the glass half full, but that isn’t because my life is perfect. It is because I have faith, and with that faith comes joy. Not saying if you don’t have some type of faith your glass is half empty, but what is it that you live for? Purpose makes people think of something higher then themselves, if you have no purpose in life why think positively? I would feel down all the time, if I thought that all that mattered in life was ME! I let myself down daily. I think if one finds purpose and meaning in life they see the glass half full! Hope that made some kind of sense!
Jenn (eating bender) says
December 15, 2008 at 10:21 am
I don’t get sick very often, so I suppose I’m a glass half full kind of girl 😉 But seriously, I think I am. Sometimes it even makes people mad! For example, when confronted with an awful situation, my friend, the eternal pessimist, will become ANGRY with me when I try to tell her that “it will all work out.” In my opinion, it’s not really fair for her to 1) Get upset with me when I’m trying to make her feel better and 2) Try to bring me down with her. So I usually take a step back and wait for her to cool down.
I don’t know what it is that makes me glass half full. I guess I just like to think that the world is, in general, a welcoming and happy place. As long as you strive to be happy and share that happiness with others, good things are bound to happen, right?
December 15, 2008 at 10:23 am
Miz – am a personal trainer! Nonono! Never a juggler, tho son, at 10, could juggle 4 rings on a unicycle – I don’t know how we two uncoordinated ones produced the tyke!
Blew me away! Thanks for response, btw!
December 15, 2008 at 10:32 am
I definitely believe that we can “re-train” our brains on this. I view it as much the same as changing our views on diet and exercise – it can be done.
I’m for sure an optimist. I always see the positive – even in bad situations. Example = my run yesterday didn’t go very well. I was struggling towards the end and just wanted it to be done. But at the end, I did say to myself “You just ran 10 miles – not everyone can say that today!”
December 15, 2008 at 10:36 am
wow …. what a good topic for this time of the year. i like to be optimistic about my optimism, but i think i’m kind of a skeptical optimist/realist, or at least: “is it me, or does the glass contain some liquid?”
i think the thing about the glass-so-full-i’m-pouring-it-into-yours is so true. (the water overflowingness representing pessimism i mean. which is not how it is usually interpreted, but i guess that’s okay.) people like that that i know don’t even realize they’re being so annoying when they do that. i am like that sometimes, mostly to my family because they’ll listen, but i guess everyone has those times where they’ve just had a really bad day.
December 15, 2008 at 10:44 am
haha also i love comment #18.
December 15, 2008 at 10:54 am
and you know that was to YOU, S.
December 15, 2008 at 11:11 am
Who stole my glass????
Do you remember the book “Who Stole My Cheese?” My husband insisted that I read it because he thought I was the mouse in the book who refused to adapt to the fact that the cheese had been moved. He also says my I’m a glass half empty kind of person. And it all really bugs me! I agree that when I hear a new idea I do run through a list of where things could go wrong, but I don’t do it because I don’t believe the idea can work, I do it because I want to be prepared for the problems and possibly eliminate them before they can happen. And, I believe this is a result of my training. You see, I’m a CPA, who’s built and run accounting departments at start-up companies and as part of my job, I made up a lot of rules and guidelines. And, to make sure those things worked, I had to look at them from the side of “what could go wrong?” Since I believe this to be a part of my accounting training and experience, this “glass half-empty” outlook WAS LEARNED. And, if it can be learned, the “glass half-full” outlook can be learned as well.
December 15, 2008 at 11:16 am
My glass IS overflowing, and for me, like many others who have commented, it hasn’t always been this way. It was a gradual transformation.
And I don’t think it’s as simple as optimists are luckier or have better lives. For me, knowing I’m resilient makes me optimistic about how I’ll face future challenges.
For me, though, I know treating myself lovingly– taking care of my body and spirit (yes, sometimes by yelling affirmations and embracing the sky)– seems to correspond with how much I want to share the contents of my glass with others.
first, Teresa, I love your site. VERY COOL. and I could spend hours there comparing…which does lead back to your comment and this:
I agree that when I hear a new idea I do run through a list of where things could go wrong, but I don’t do it because I don’t believe the idea can work, I do it because I want to be prepared for the problems and possibly eliminate them before they can happen.
for some reason that doesnt ring pessimistic to me but more realistic.
recently I was blatantly accused of being ‘really negative.’
I didnt see it that way. In my eyes I was being realistic. honest (ala dave #39). which sounds more like you, yes?
Methinks Ren Man would hand that book off to me and RUN out of fear 🙂
December 15, 2008 at 11:21 am
Hello. My name is Sandy. And I am currently trying to retrain my brain to view the glass as half full. Thank you.
December 15, 2008 at 11:33 am
Oh, yeah, I know the glass broken thing! I was in that place once, except it’s not really a place, it’s more like putting your head in the sand and saying wow everything is all dark! It’s just an illusion.
Me, I’m into realism. And moderationism and bad-assism.
December 15, 2008 at 12:02 pm
Well, I’m much more of an optimist, but I don’t think those who are really pessimistic can (or are wanting to) change, so does that make me a pessimist in that area?
December 15, 2008 at 12:10 pm
Hmm . . . I’ve read the comments, but not seen the video (I’m at work, but I’ll watch it when I get home). 🙂
I’m by nature a glass-half-empty person, but by training am usually more of a glass-half-full person.
Know what a realist is? A person who knows that whether the glass is half-full or half-empty, eventually you’ll have to wash the glass! 😉
December 15, 2008 at 12:13 pm
I like what you do with your daughter.
do you think my girlfriend would KILL ME if I made her do that too??
December 15, 2008 at 12:17 pm
wanna be into this too, melissa: bad-assism.
did NOT get the work done I needed to this morning BUT, since my glass is overflowing and all, I *am* excited to bring the Toddler to sit on santa’s lovely lap this afternoon.
should be a carnival ride as, right now, she insists she will. not. do. it.
I think the phrase BUT MAMA I HANUKKAH was uttered in there somewhere.
(I knew that talk would come back to haunt me)
Vered - MomGrind says
December 15, 2008 at 12:32 pm
My natural tendency is pessimism, but I do believe we can work on ourselves to change this. I am actually getting better about it as I get older.
December 15, 2008 at 12:46 pm
So many good comments, I agree with what so many others have said. I don’t know if I’m an optimist or pessimist…is it the way you handle situations now? The way you look at the past? I’m positive when thinking about the past…even bad things I always end up finding humor and a lesson. But I think I tend to be a little more in the middle in the present.
As I’ve worked towards focusing on the good things and working to improve my sense of self-efficacy, I find that I’m annoyed by extremely negative people. What are you supposed to say to them? Cheer them up? Rant with them? Pity them?
Fitness Surfer says
December 15, 2008 at 1:09 pm
Born with glass half full. Glass was broken as a child. Glass half empty as a teen. Then, glass half full post high school and college. Now, my glass is over flowing. Mostly because I now see the world differently.
“When your grateful your life becomes full.” It’s hard to be grateful and pessimistic. I’m not always this way. Some days I’ll wake up positive and optimistic, and by the end of the day I’m complaining and tired and pessimistic. I’m starting to recognize it as either tired, hunger, soreness, or all of the above. Then I chose to be positive, and stop complaining and start focusing on the positive.
December 15, 2008 at 1:19 pm
I think I’m usually glass half full. I find myself complaining sometimes, but I think my general outlook is optimistic. Or maybe I’m just especially optimistic today, but whatever 🙂
KK (Running Through Life) says
December 15, 2008 at 1:26 pm
I try to focus on the positive. However, after this past week, the negative is winning.
I am usually optimistic, but stress has me down there days and I find myself complaining. I am trying to be more aware of it to stop it. *crosses fingers* I’ll be back to me ASAP
December 15, 2008 at 1:30 pm
and it’s all more difficult during the holidays, huh?
Although now that I type that it’s harder & *easier* in a way.
It’s all so rushrushhurry but also such a time of being thankful & appreciativeoptimistic as well.
Please to ignore me 😉
December 15, 2008 at 2:22 pm
I’m a very optimistic person. I love to laugh. My wife told me that one of the reasons why she fell in love with me is because I have I child like quality that never seem to fade.
I know that everything in my life always have a way of working out because I never really allow my self to be down too long.
Positive attitude does have its merits.
December 15, 2008 at 2:29 pm
I definitely used to be a broken glass person- no doubts about that- but these days, I would say that glass is most certainly full. To be honest, my circumstances have improved a lot and that helps. Just being aware of that improvement helps me to re-adjust my perspective and make the most out of not-so-great situations.
I believe very strongly that we can change the way we perceive the glass and that gratitude is one of the best ways to get there. When I see my perception starting to shift back to an empty glass, I remind myself how amazingly blessed I am and how things are so much better than they used to be and *poof* the glass is magically full again.
December 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm
I’m glad you’re enjoying our website. I’ve been using it a bunch myself lately. 🙂
And thanks for your support regarding my glass half-empty-ism. I think I’m trying to take a realistic view as well and not being negative. Now if I could only get my hubby on board with that…..
I think that I was born a pessimist. I was a very serious kid and grew up always looking for the other shoe to drop. But, somewhere around college, I decided I was tired of living that way. I read Dr. Beck’s book on managing depression thru cognitive behavioral therapy and it completely changed my mind. Since then I have made myself into an optimist. I do think it is a choice. And I must say I’m much happier on this side of the glass;)
Girl on Top says
December 15, 2008 at 3:10 pm
Great topic. I think I am too much of an optimist! I always believe and see opportunities in everything. The downside is that I forgot to look at both sides.
I love the affirmations. What you are teaching your kids will definitely help them to be natural optimists!
December 15, 2008 at 3:18 pm
Miz Miz Miz I needed this today.
I shall be an optimist.
Right now I am in between.
That shall be my resolution for 2009 🙂
December 15, 2008 at 3:44 pm
as someone also approaching forty i am trying hard to look at the glass as half full. Trying to “age with grace”..Even thinking about having a big ole party to celebrate- ME!
thanks for the Monday face time..always love it:)
December 15, 2008 at 3:52 pm
I have been more of a pessimist than I’d like. I realize that everything is a choice but I still get down and negative sometimes…I also realize that everything I think and feel is a choice I am making. Need. to. retrain. my. brain.
December 15, 2008 at 3:54 pm
lisa? when’s your 40th? we need to gather all the blogger woman who are turning 40 around the same time and have a blogebration.
December 15, 2008 at 5:17 pm
man, I need to go back and read the comments when I have more time. Anyway – I think left to my own devices, I am mostly an optimistic, give-the-benefit-of-the-doubt kinda gal… but I too easily accept others’ “glass-half-empty” projections, so I need to be really careful about my friends. I can only handle so much negativity without escaping to recharge my glass.
December 15, 2008 at 6:11 pm
I think it depends on the day for me. Some days I wake up to a half full glass and other days I wake up to find that someone has drank from my glass (usually me). However I believe that I have control of how much is in the glass and on the days that I wake up and it’s half empty all I have to do is turn on the tap and fill it up. I don’t always do this but I am aware that I have the option.
Great facetime Miz! I will have to ponder this one a little more.
December 15, 2008 at 6:35 pm
I’m mostly an optimist,although I do have my days. I believe there are wonderful things happening all around us, even in our darkest times, but we have to be willing to look for them. It’s an attitude that drives a few friends crazy, but when I share with them what I’ve learned or discovered during a few of life’s trials, they have to agree that it works for me.
December 15, 2008 at 6:49 pm
First, I only recently got off dial-up internet so now I get to watch your videos! Hooray! I really enjoyed today’s and I will be going back to see some older ones.
I am mostly optimistic these days. I recently divorced an eternal pessimist, and I can say I haven’t always been as optimistic. You absolutely can change your frame of mind, whether your body follows suit, I am not sure.
December 15, 2008 at 8:13 pm
I am totally a glass half-full girl, and someone who’s grateful for even a drop in the bottom.
I’m not a Pollyanna by any means – I’m dry and sarcastic most of the time – but even in bad times I am thankful for living and loving.
I do believe that being happy often has to be a choice. You can count up all the bad things going on, or you can acknowledge them and then decide that, in spite of the cruddy things going on, you will have a good day, or month, or project, or semester.
Someone I know said that life is only 50% about what happens to you; the other 50% is how you react/deal with it. I do think that’s true.
Wow, getting maudlin here. Great post, Miz!
December 15, 2008 at 8:18 pm
I haven’t read all the comments tonight (because I’m tired and I want to go to sleep), but as to whether I am glass half-emtpy/full, I think it depends on the day. I think most of the time I’m optimistic, but then there are those days…
I think that attitudes can change over time, depending on the experiences one has, the people one is surrounded by…and if our outlook can be influenced, then it seems likely that we could also re-program.
Interesting stuff! 🙂
December 15, 2008 at 9:32 pm
please to forgive if I get technical..a phd to be in psychology can do that to your brain. Me..I am a life is beautiful, lets laugh at ourselves kid of girl.
About changing..well research has shown that people have something called affectivity..and they have levels of positive affect and negative affect which stay stable. So someone who has high negative affect (tends to see the world negatively..glass half empty) tend to revert back to it, even when positiv things happen to them. So they go back to their world view inspite of good things happenin and bad things just reinforce it
Sorry..i did get technical! But I think its predetermined to a certain extent..but to change willingly is human, afterall!
workout mommy says
December 15, 2008 at 11:40 pm
I am ashamed to admit that I am mostly a pessimist. After reading all these fantastic comments, I need to pull myself together and start THINKING and SPEAKING positive.
great post mizfit!!!!
December 16, 2008 at 12:25 am
Optimistic….as long as I avoid the evening news and morning traffic, long lines, unclean public rest rooms,
and crowd malls with old christmas carols being song by
and off key choir. Yep I am a regular little bundle of joy
under the right circumstances. I like to think of myself as Mary Poppin’s with combat boots…yep the glass is always half full until some poor soul goes out of his way to spill it……( I am only jokin people …..I think)
until next time
December 16, 2008 at 5:17 am
I think if totally left to my own devices I’m pessimistic but I’m 100% convinced it’s mainly habit and wrapped up in negative self image, low self-esteem and all that. So I’m work hard on changing that and catching myself when I say/think pessimistic things. If I can’t be optimistic at times I at least try to be realistic you know.
I think we can definitely change our attitudes though…. it’s all down to awareness and practice! I also think being positive can have a huge impact on our health. I see it with my in-laws… they catch every cold and bug that’s going, I just tell myself I’m not getting it and that’s that – 9 times out of 10 I don’t and when I do I focus my body on fighting it and getting better as quick as possible.
Denise W says
December 16, 2008 at 9:41 am
I tend to agree with the glass is situational. Everyone has ups and downs, and their views of the world change. It’s how you regroup after trying times, however, that really shows that whole nature vs. nurture concept. People who are raised (sorry, I’m with the hallelujah girl here) with some type of spirituality (I really don’t care what religion you call it) tend to bounce back even stronger and with a different outlook than someone who believes that “this is all there is”. Someone who perceives that the body is a temple tends to take care of it better than someone who lives life with the idea of “so what”. The mind is a tremendous tool–and yes, it can be reprogrammed to a certain extent if you want it badly enough. My husband used to be a couch potato–fifty pounds heavier, a big beer drinker–now he completes Ironman competitions. I used to be thirty pounds heavier, high blood pressure, etc. Now I work out and train lots and am tons healthier. We buried our oldest child nearly fifteen years ago–but we didn’t allow it to destroy us. We made it through tough times, saw how our terrible situation made others truly appreciate their own children more, and now we lavish our love on our two daughters. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Life is what you make it, and I intend to make it a fun, healthy, spiritual, adventurous ride.
December 16, 2008 at 12:31 pm
Well, I used to be more pessimist, due to circumstances, but now I think it’s best for me and those around me to try to be calm and expect the best outcome, no matter what it’s happening at the moment, always being realistic, of course.
And I do feel better. Anguish can make you feel as if you were sick in the sort term and really make you sick in the long term, I know since I have seen it happen. So a year and half ago I started to try to be positive, grateful and take the little things in life with more patience. I don’t know if I’m doing this as I should, but I am trying at least.
December 16, 2008 at 10:23 pm
kinda late to add my 2cents to this one, but I had a bit of an interesting experince with it.
A sport coach (from a few years ago) was talking to my and some teammates at a session about negative self talk – we were down on ourselves and unable to compete what he was asking of us.
He called the session to a hault and talked to us about a book called the Zen of Golf. The author was a golf coach and he had some student golfers that were having trouble with thier putting.
He asked them to step up and try to take a shot. While they were lining up the shot he stood beside them and said things like, “you’ll never make it”, “this shot is impossible, you’re going to miss”, “this is too hard, you can’t do it, why are you even trying”.
After they took their puts he asked the budding golfers what they would do if a caddy talked like that to them in a game.
Resounding answer was, “fire them”. He then asked the golfers to step forward if they had ever talked to themselves like that while setting up for a play. They all had to step forward.
So our sports team talked about “firing the inner evil caddy”. I’ve always been surprised what power the mind has over the body.
I’m pretty much a half full cup kinda girl, I’m certainly banking on that now that I’m struggling with my weight issues and trying to get fit.
Andrew R - Go Healthy Go Fit says
December 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm
Can I pick another option? Could I hold the glass just the way it is and take in everything beautiful in the world that’s right in front of my eyes? Is it possible to let the amount in the glass be what it may while I enjoy grass, trees, family, friends, life?
That’s how I view the glass… by not really seeing it for anything but what it is. Because that is how I can control my own feelings, by not trying to control the glass.
Thanks for the food for thought Miz!
All the Best,
December 18, 2008 at 9:23 pm
Aging should definitely be a positive thing! I hate when people talk about wanting to be a child again, or wanting to go back to high school. No they don’t! If they were a child, or in high school, they’d want to be older. People hardly ever seem to be happy in their current state…
Layla abdel says
January 9, 2009 at 7:20 am
Life is what you make of it… I’m a little sad at the moment, reading my friends’ emails about how depressed they are to be back at work, how it’s so cold and they would rather be in bed….and how much they hate mondays… especially the mornings!
I say, there’s always someone else out there who’s worse off. there will always be someone else better off… but enjoy what you have and make the most of it!
For me, the most important things are a happy, healthy and loving family and group of friends. everything else is a bonus. So if I have that, I have the world… and my glass is most certainly overflowing!
If you want to get fit, get fit. if you can’t get motivated, well you don’t want it enough, so concentrate on what you really want and what makes you truely happy.
Life is good. Embrace it! and wow, what a beautiful day it is, irrespective of the cold!
Happy new year to all 🙂
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