Thursday, November 12, 2009

Optimism vs. Pessimism: Is the glass half empty or half full?

A discussion on my Facebook wall on November 13, 2009 brought this timeless philosophical question to my mind: Is the glass half empty of half full? This question is commonly used to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for optimism or pessimism.

On the above date, I updated my Facebook status with the words, "Good things happen to good people". Many of my friends responded to the update. They shared one thing in common - disagreement. I was not surprised. I'm fully aware of the fact that many people focus on the negative side of things and completely ignore the positive side. For instance, people focus on the number of good people to whom bad things have happened and completely ignore the good number of good people to whom good things have happened.

How we respond to life's experiences (how we see the glass) is a key determinant of the level of success we attain. When you experience difficulties and setbacks in life do you see them as just another proof that everything is working against you? When you face challenges in life, do you give in or do you punch back? When life knocks you down, do you stay down and cry or do you get up and keep going?

Traditionally, the world is made up of optimists (those who see the glass half full) and pessimists (those who see the glass half empty). A pessimist who sees the glass half empty is expecting a full glass while the optimist operates under the assumption that the glass could as well be completely empty or there would have been no glass at all. The person who sees the glass half empty imagines how things could be better and completely ignores the fact that it could be worst. Such a person could be compared to the kid who complains that he has no new shoes, completely forgetting that there're other less previleged kids who have no shoes at all. As a matter of fact, there're people who don't even have feet to wear shoes.

Answer the questions below and find out whether you may be too negative or trying hard to stay positive.

  • Do you give up early and often or do you refuse to give up without a good fight?
  • When you meet a new person, do you expect to like the person or be annoyed by the person?
  • Do you think the best days of your life are yet to come, are happening now or have already happened?
  • Does failure make you depressed or stronger?
  • Do you believe most people try to be good or are liars and cheats?
  • When your boss offers you a challenging task, do you become suspicious that nobody else wants the task or are you glad to help out?
  • Whenever you predict the future, do you think something good is about to happen to you or something bad?
After answering the above questions myself, I can safely conclude that I see the glass half full. No matter what's going on in my life, I always find something to be thankful for and try to remain positive. I try as much as possible to inspire the people around me and to make the world a happier place. With this positive attitude, I might even live longer!

It is worth mentioning that there's an alternative view of optimism and pessimism (in relation to the glass half full or half empty). Another school of thought suggests that the person who sees the glass half full is a pessimist who has been pleasantly surprised; a person who is satisfied with the status quo and thinks he/she does not deserve more. On the other hand, the person who sees the glass half empty is an optimist who has been disappointed and sincerely believes he/she can do better.

All in all, no matter your perspective to this philosophical question, the bottom line is that your level of success in anything you do depends on whether you have a positive or negative attitude towards life's experiences.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search this Blog

Related Posts with Thumbnails