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Is the Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

Updated: Jun 28, 2022

If you've lived the same first half of 2022 as I have, your head and heart most likely have been twisted and spun through the rollercoaster of the human condition and for me it's been quite the confusing time. From war to surging gas prices to gun laws to women's reproductive rights, it's been a heart wrenching few months and I struggle with digesting these injustices and continuing to lead with a loving heart. I've been thinking of how I can write about my own struggles with living through the heavy but still remaining optimistic without spewing toxic positivity or something that doesn't come across as heart-forward as I mean. Also, to be frank, there has been some heavy shit weighing on all our hearts that may never be fully digested. This morning I had an idea that begins to unravel my internal struggles between light and dark and I hope sharing this helps you sort through your complexed feelings as well.

Is the glass half empty or half full?

This proverbial phrase is typically used rhetorically to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for pessimism (half empty) or optimism (half full). There are other view points too, like realism or as a litmus test to simply determine an individual's worldview. The purpose of the question is to demonstrate that a situation may be seen in different ways depending on one's point of view and I believe its the perfect phrase to help us navigate the heaviness of the world while balancing care & concern with optimism & love.

When viewing an image of a glass containing an equal amount of liquid and empty space, 58 percent of Americans felt that the glass was half-full, while 16 percent felt that it was half-empty. The remaining respondents were indecisive.*

*this probably means those deemed indecisive were millennials whose fear of commitment gave them decision paralysis to answer the question properly... insert chuckle to acknowledge sarcasm here.

The Science

A study of 2,000 Americans found that people who view a glass as half-full not only think more optimistically but they may inhabit personality traits including decisiveness, playfulness, and creativity. It has been researched that glass half-full thinkers might be more optimistic because they allow more time for fun. Respondents who think more positively reported having two more better than average days a month than those who see things as being half empty (11 days vs. 9 days). It was reported that glass half-full thinkers also report spending approximately seven more hours a week on their hobbies than glass half-empty respondents.

Glass half empty thinkers are deemed pessimistic and negative however glass half-empty thinkers tended to be more laid-back, more introverted, more serious and more proud than their half-full counterparts. Oddly enough, glass half-empty thinkers don’t always self-identify as pessimists. In fact, nearly half (48 percent) of glass half-empty types believe they’re more optimistic than pessimistic.

But Who Is Right?

But what does that mean? Who is thinking correctly? I think there is a need for both, without the dark, there wouldn't be light .

My passion is to bring attention to mental health, prevent brain injury and change how the world sees adventure and safety. This comes with some pretty heavy statistics and stories. There is a reason we need to ban together to shine a light on helmet use and I sometimes find myself weighed down by stories I read and hear. But deep down inside I know that pouring my heart and efforts into each design can change the perspective of the person wearing that helmet. That one person can aid in breaking the darkness that can hover over brain injuries and the helmet stigma. If I were to let myself stay buried under the stories of what happens to those who do not wear helmets and their injuries, I wouldn't be able to bring the positivity to create helmets so others do not become a statistic. This is how I strive to see the glass half full knowing if I am not adding drops to the glass, it can become less full. My mindset has become, one drop at a time.

But How Much Does the Glass Weigh?

I read about a psychologist who took this question and flipped it. As the psychologist raised a glass of water, she did not ask the “half empty or half full” question. Instead she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

This really spoke to me. There are so many things going on and placing the weight of the world on our shoulders is enough to break anyone. It's a solid reminder that we are humans and we feel deeply and that is something to embrace. But we need to be aware on how long we dwell in feelings that are not serving our highest purpose. By no means am I am expert but i'd love to share a few things that help me feel and process heavy things without falling into self defeating depression.

1) Allow myself a specific amount of time to feel my emotions however feels right to me. Maybe I put on specific music to match my mood, watch a show that makes me cry, punch a pillow, scream or dance my emotions out. Once my time is up I continue with my day. This part is important for me as I am someone who can get caught up and stay is a low state of being, so ensuring I have a task that needs to happen after I am done processing is a way to make sure I stay moving forward.

2) Journaling. When I feel hopeless, rejected and/or scared I write. Sometimes it is stream of consciousness, sometimes it's observational, sometimes is just lines of curse words and other times it's a combination of words and drawings. I don't always read what I write but the act of writing itself helps get the thoughts out of my head and into a processing mode where I can allow the feelings to flow freely.

3) Paint. I'm sure this one did not surprise most of you. I take to the canvas when my emotions begin to overwhelm me but most of the time I will paint, draw or sketch on my private sketch pads or canvas collection. This helps me put down any expectations of the finished product and is a way to get my feelings out of my body and into globs of color and fluidity.

In Conclusion

It is important to me to be real & raw and being human is hard. It can be painful and devastating at times but because of those times the simple beautiful moments can shine so brightly they light up a space, room or entire community. Here's to holding each other up, sharing our light when others are dark and continuing to add those drops in the glass of life to keep it full.


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