Half Empty or Full? The Happiness Test & 3 Thoughts for Living Satisfied

What do you see?

According to Wikipedia, the age old question “is the glass half empty or half full” is:

“a common expression, used rhetorically to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty); or as a general litmus test to simply determine an individuals worldview.

The purpose of the question is to demonstrate that the situation may be seen in different ways depending on one’s point of view and that there may be opportunity in the situation as well as trouble. This idiom is used to explain how people perceive events and objects. Perception is unique to every individual and is simply one’s interpretation of reality. The phrase “Is the glass half empty or half full” can be referred to as a philosophical question.”

We’re going one better and think of this important question as one that really impacts your life psychologically, not just philosophically.  You’re after happiness in your life, we all are.  What that looks like from person to person is different – neither bad nor good, just different.  This is how I can be amazingly happy today as a “stay at home mom in my historical house/writer/psychologist of the future after I finish this next degree” while my soul sister is super-duper happy in North Carolina “canning green beans, excited as hell about the potential of shooting a deer in November, in her beautiful, new hunting lodge-esque house that sits at the end of an impossibly steep, breathtakingly beautiful wildflower lined driveway to the top of a mountain in way far off land adventure sort of way.”  We’re the perfect “Stepford” wives for our extraordinary (different) husbands, great Mom’s to vastly different children. Still, we chatted for over an hour on the phone and laughed, impossibly different and totally in tune with each other.  Different is good.  It takes ditch diggers, CFOs, pastors and store clerks to make the whole of our society work.  What we all need in common is happiness.  How happy are you?  Take the test from About.com.

So is your glass half empty or half full?

My answer?

Neither.  The real question is not even on the page yet. 

Let’s say for fun and giggles that you’re part of a day time contestant show. The crowd is wildly happy and cheering for you.  Impossibly skinny women in long even gowns at 10 am point to two identical glasses on the stage, and the tension mounts.  The perfectly groomed plastic host says in his best radio voice “Contestant number one (that is you) you’re the optimist of the group.  Choose a glass…”

You look at them both, their clear amber like liquid sparkling like the best champagne.  You’re too far away to really make out any details, but the one on the left appeals to you and you think “wow, it is half full.”  Great, you’ve chosen the glass on the stage that is half full, and all the crowd cheers as you, the contestant, receives the glass as a prize.

And it is, indeed, half full.

You grasp the glass of bubbly liquid,jumping up and down in your exuberance.

Unfortunately, it is half full of cyanide poison, which you are now wearing.

Sorry contestant, that prize killed you.

Half full of deadly is still way to much.

Stay with me here, I have a point.

Contestant number two, picking the glass that is half empty nervously receives her prize.  After all, she’s been the victim her entire life.  The cheerleader over there that she’s resented most of her life just fell out in all her optimism, God only knows what horrors await her pessimistic self.  She knew it, knew it, knew it, this whole game show thing was going to bite her in the ass, she told her friend that all the way there.

This glass is half empty, alright.

She holds her breath.

Inside is pure liquid love that brings the ultimate bliss for the rest of her life.

She thinks “someone is going to spill this.”

The crowd boos.

Life lesson:  Its not how you see the glass that determines your level of happiness or not; it’s the questions that you ask about what is in the glass. 

Being pessimistic is just an excuse for the contents of the glass not fulfilling your needs no matter what is in it.  You’re anticipating not having “enough” and no amount of liquid love will change that.  It’s inside you that the change needs to happen. Pessimists are not open to possibilities, but to the failure of possibilities.  Half empty of priceless diamonds?  Winner.  Half full of Jim Jones Kool Aid? Nope.  Half empty but contains the secrets of world peace? 

Being overly optimistic typically means that you’re so busy being happy – even when you’re not – that you have a hard time settling down to reality and just investigating the glass.  Is it really worth your love and emotion?  Are you overly investing in the glass out of your need to give? How is your reality testing? You see, sometimes you have to see that glass for what it is…half full of the most destructive virus capable of destroying the population of the world? Again, what is in the glass and your willingness to think, process and ask questions is going to determine your outcome.

The Point of View Chart

Thought #1:  Your perception of life colors the joy that you will have as you ask your question.  Ever worry endlessly about something that never happened?  How did you feel about that emotional down payment on something that you didn’t buy?  Automatic thoughts on the pessimistic side will automatically have you tense waiting for the other shoe to wallop you on the head.

Life lesson: Set yourself free: you are not required to think any old thought that falls into your head.  Answer yourself.  No, self, my husband is not going to lose his job and we are not going to live under a bridge.  No, self, if I put my while paycheck into lottery tickets, God is not going to come through for me.  I am going to not pay my bills or eat because I’m being silly. The balance?  Realism.  Yes, it’s a tough economy, but we’re going to get through it with a few bumps.  Get involved in what strikes you as right for you – and then have a little faith.  If a thought is torturing you about any subject, talk back to it and refuse to give it space in your head.

Thought #2 –

Happiness is really being able to be comfortable and secure amidst life’s storms.  Let me repeat that again.  Life is about maintaining your Zen when the chips are down.  Possible? Yep.   My life is sorta really, really in the chompers right now, and Brian and I are closer, happier and more in love than ever.

Why?  We look at life as the glass, investigate what is going into it, insist that we don’t drink what isn’t good for us and watch out for one another.  Finances are tough – so instead of fighting, we plan together.  Children can be consuming – but we make time to be a couple and laugh together with no electronic media distracting us.  Real alone time.

So I will say it again…I am happier right now than ever in my life – and there are some pretty hairy situations in my life right now.  Still, I have earned my own respect by being  truthful and whole, and lovingly embraced the grace of God and others that supports my soul.

Life Lesson:  Happiness, I have decided, is going to be my game state.

My cage is not easily rattled.  You’re hands aren’t touching my proverbial “goat.”  I am goat-less, no goat to get. How?  I accept where I am and who I am with dignity and grace.  I am a long way from where I started, and it’s been one heck of a journey, good and bad.  I have made huge mistakes, big wins, lifelong friends and cried for the dead.  It’s not the years that you live….it’s the life that they enclose. Regret?  Waste of me.  I have to much to give to the world, to my family, to myself to indulge in the painful, endless cycle of regret.  Be responsible, make amends, repent and move on.

Thought #3:  There is no day like today to reach deep inside yourself and resolve, one step at a time, to respect yourself.  Every day of my life I am asked “how do I let him/her go?”  Answer: you don’t.  You love yourself one day at a time, realize that you’re really worthwhile just as you are and concentrate on being whole.  Before you know it, that lost love won’t rank so high with you any longer – you deserve more than pain.

  • Start by taking a good look in the mirror. 
  • You are beautiful, unique, the ONLY person like you.  You’re priceless. 
  • Now, who are you? What do you want to keep, want to change?
  • Are you realistic? 
  • Do you know that you are neither all bad or all good, that you’re a wonderful mix of humanity?

Nothing that you’re gifted to do is impossible, and that dream in your heart?  It’s part of the giftedness.

There was once this smart guy, and he said:

Seek and you will find.

Knock to have the door opened.

Believe in yourself, and follow through with great hope and expectation.

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