Saturday, November 1, 2008

Is the Glass Half-empty or Half-full?

Optimism and pessimism are intriguing concepts. On the one hand, you have a perspective that is looking up; believing that good things can and do happen; to steal a famous advertising slogan “Good things come to those who wait”. The opposite perspective is one of looking backwards; searching for flaws and weaknesses; an understanding that reality is hard, gritty, and no respecter of persons regardless of gender, social status, or luck.

I don’t consider myself either an optimist or a pessimist. However, I have gone through periods of my life where those who know me would characterize me as one or the other. Normally, I tend to error on the side of reality; pessimism I mean. It’s not that I can’t or don’t have goals, look for the good, or hope for things to happen even on a long shot; because I do. It’s just that from a young age I learned the hard truth of disappointment and what that can do to you; I didn’t like that feeling. Consequently, I found myself expecting or assuming status quo or worse. If you stop to think about it, the pessimists view is a safe one. If things go wrong or poorly, you experience just what you thought would occur. And if things go fine or even great, then you are more than satisfied. It is the being of no disappointment. Now granted, I can see the cracks in this state of thinking (is that pessimism again?), and it does not dominate the way that I look at things today.

I have kids; they make me look at things again, and again, and again. The odd thing is that for as many times as I look at these things their interpretation can be different each time. It truly is remarkable a child’s ability to perceive things differently; outside of the set of norms or conditions that we are so used to. This is why it is said that the innovation of tomorrow already exists in the minds of kids today. The older we get the more confined and predictable our thoughts and opinions. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is limiting. But you can always find substance in things; meaningful or even humorous. For example, look at the picture below. Some farmer pulled these vegetables from the ground and sent them to market with the rest of the crop; nothing out of the ordinary. Then someone found them and put them together and it’s funny.
So, the next time that someone asks you whether the glass is half-empty or half-full just remember that it is still half no matter how you look at it; both perspectives have their benefits.

1 comment:

Allison Claire said...

I know you just wanted to post that picture! I really like the Ben Folds song. :)