Two people look at the glass. Each person explains differently what he/she sees. One says the glass is half empty. The other says the glass is half full. The glass half empty person tends towards always seeing the negative first and focuses on lack and scarcity. That person is a pessimist. The glass half full person always sees the positive first and focuses on abundance. That person is an optimist. Which one are you?
The glass half empty person attracts negativity, emptiness and hopelessness. When you spend time around these people you can very easily feel oppressed as if there is a heavy weight on your shoulders. You feel quite dis-empowered.
The glass half full person, however, exudes positivity, fullness and a “Can Do” attitude. When you spend time around them, you feel everything is possible. You feel buoyed up. You feel very empowered.
This difference between glass half empty people and glass half full ones explains why some people get all the opportunities and other people miss out.
I like that story about two sales executives from rival US shoe companies. They were sent to Africa to explore the business opportunities for their respective companies. One came back with a negative report: “There are no opportunities here for our business because no one wears shoes here.” The other came back and said: “There are enormous opportunities for our business here because no one wears shoes here.” The first one was the glass half empty guy. The latter a glass half full one.
Two people looking at the same situation and coming up with different conclusions and all because of the mindset they have.
Martin Seligman, the founder of Positive Psychology, called this our “explanatory style”. It’s the way we explain things to ourselves first of all and then to others. We have often developed our “explanatory style” over our lifetime, often fed by the type of people with whom we surround ourselves. He says that it determines whether we are happy in our lives or depressed. People who have a positive “explanatory style” can explain even the most devastating experiences in a glass half full way.
I remember talking with a 32 year old father of two pre-schoolers. He had terminal cancer. I made the comment to him that he must be overwhelmed with sadness that he will not see his children grow up. He said to me: “Maree, you know, I don’t let myself think that way. Every day when I wake up I just say thank you that I have another day to spend with them.” That’s a positive, empowered, glass half full “explanatory style”. It can be learned.
So I am throwing out a motivational challenge to you. Observe yourself and how you explain what is happening in your life. When you find yourself in glass half empty mode or using a negative “explanatory style”, stop yourself, focus and turn your thinking around.
Be a glass half full person and watch what happens when you be that kind of person consistently over a period of time.