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The glass and what we expect of it

February 25, 2014

Pardon me while I get philosophical for a moment.

You know that old chestnut that says people who see the glass as half-empty are pessimists, and people who see it as half-full are optimists? It doesn’t make sense.

Lookit, the only way you’d see the glass as half-empty is if you expected it to be full of water. As if the glass’s natural state is fullness of water. Then you look at the glass and say, “Ah, I see the problem here. There’s only half the water there should be in this glass.” To look at the glass in that way actually reveals a sort of ridiculously optimistic sense of entitlement. There should be water in every glass — and not just some water, but all the way to the top water.

Meanwhile, calling the glass half-full means you expected nothing. Not even humble water. That’s optimism?

Certainly the half-full folks seem like more “positive” people — emphasizing as they do the “yay, water!” part — whereas the half-empty people seem quick to notice, dwell on, and complain about what they didn’t get. But that’s the disappointment that comes from some warped hope that life will always hand you bonus stuff. It’s a bitter kind of optimism, but it is optimism.

Which leads me to think: Optimism is for suckers. Be a realist instead. Don’t expect good things to happen to you. Face reality, let go of your disappointments, and try to make your life what you want it to be. In other words, fill up your own damn glass.

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