“Do you see a half-empty or half-full glass?”
Usually, a glass-half-full type of person is an optimist. They interpret things with a positive mindset. Their hallmark attitude is one of optimism and hope. One can learn to be a glass-half-full person by practicing positive thinking and gratitude, even if they may not be so right now. It is a reliable way to increase one’s life satisfaction and life span.
Let’s explore the question from as many sides as we can do here.
How To Answer “Are You A Glass-Half-Full Person?”
Call it fun or drab, here is a physics guy’s take on the question:
- A glass on earth never remains empty; it’s always full. If it is filled up to half with water, the other half contains air.
Here’s how a minimalist sees it:
- If the glass is half-full, then you may not need to fill it to the full. If half glassful serves your needs, why greed for more?
- And if the glass is half-empty, then you may leave that emptiness for others to fill. You do not take up space more than you absolutely need.
By the way, minimalism is a lifestyle of owning and keeping only those things that add value and meaning to your life, while discarding the rest.
Here’s how the philosophers would argue:
- They would say the question posed is itself a false dilemma and the answer above is rooted in realism.
Realism is talking in terms of unchangeable facts; like the moon takes 28 days to go around the earth.
A false dilemma is when you wrongly box any issue within two-limit options. Like saying “If you are not with me, then you are against me” to a person who might be a fence-sitter.
Winning Advantages of A Glass-Half-Full Person?
The glass-half-full people are satisfied with their place in life. They feel contented with what they have. They see their life as full of gifts and feel grateful to those who gave them those. Their joys are more because they count and savor their blessings.
- People who see the glass half-full not only think more positively, but they also have more decisiveness, patience, playfulness, competitiveness, and creativity, as a study on 2,000 Americans found.
- In the study, when shown an image of a glass with an equal amount of milk and empty space, 58% of the participants felt it was half-full, 16% said it was half-empty, and the remaining were indecisive.
- Research has found seeing the glass as half-full not only makes you happier, but it also makes you healthier and wealthier. Psychologist Susan Segerstrom found the optimistic law students, ten years after graduation, earned an average of $32,667 more than their glass-half-empty peers.
- Lee et al (2019) found optimism can extend the life span, especially in older adults. Their results suggest optimism is specifically related to 11 to 15% longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity,” that is, living to the age of 85 or beyond.
- A study by Laura Kubzansky et al (2001) found an optimistic explanatory style may protect against the risk of coronary heart disease in older men. The study was aptly named “Is the glass half empty or half full?”
- The glass-half-empty thinkers, in the same study, tended to be more laid-back, introverted, serious, and proud as compared to the glass-half-full thinkers. Surprisingly, glass-half-empty thinkers did not always identify as pessimists. In fact, 48% of glass-half-empty people believed they are more optimistic than pessimistic.
- If you see a glass-half-full, you tend to put a positive and optimistic spin on a given situation. You focus on how much water there is in the glass as a plus point and remind yourself it is not completely empty. You are thankful that at least you have that much water to fulfill your thirst.
- The better aspect of these people is their ability to go out and work towards their goals. Psychologists define optimism as, a psychological trait characterized as the general expectation that good things will happen, or the belief that the future will be favorable and under their control.
- While they feel a sense of gratitude, they also feel immensely motivated to work towards filling up that glass to the full.
- Exploring further, these people are also helpful towards others. They feel compassionate towards other people’s misery and help them fill their glasses.
What’s Wrong With A Half-Full Glass Attitude?
Now, this is something often left untouched.
A half-full glass type of person could be a procrastinator or a perfectionist or a derelict.
- They might be a procrastinator because they think the glass is already half-full, so they can delay filling it up now.
- They might be a perfectionist because they think that half-full water level shows the perfect balance between emptiness and fullness with a perfectly horizontal level.
- They might be a derelict as they might have started to fill the glass and have managed to do half the job. Now they have a half-full glass, they lost interest and went away to do something else.
Do Parents Pass Down Their Optimism?
An optimistic temperament is around 25% heritable, but it can also be learned and shaped by social mechanisms, such as attachments to friends and family (Meevissen, 2011).
As for me, I would love to say,
“Hey, you have a glass, to begin with! So, rejoice! Now go out and fill it with whatever stuff you wish and to whatever level you want.”
That asserts two things. First, the happiness of having something to work with. Second, the motivation to go out and build it up from there.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy—a medical doctor, psychology writer, happiness researcher. Founder and chief editor of The Happiness Blog. Writes popular science articles on happiness, positive psychology, and related topics.
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