The glass is neither half-empty nor half-full

[This first appeared two years ago. It is still applicable today.]

The obvious usefulness of the half-empty/half-full metaphor obscures the deeper truth that lies behind it.

We are able to judge someone’s ability to contribute to a project, a
business, or our lives by simply observing whether they consider
situations as declining or growing.

"Half-empty’ people view the world around them with dismay and take
the position that the best in life is over and all that remains are the
dregs. No matter what anyone does, their attention is firmly fixed on
the past and its supposedly better days. As a result, their ability to
exert a positive influence on anything around them is negligible.

We may consider such people as losers. The truth in their eyes is
infinitely worse. they consider that they have already lost and they
are resignedly staving off their inevitable descent into oblivion.
These people live with the specter of imminent failure every day. The
wonder is not that they are depressed, the wonder is that they are able
to continue living at all.

The mere fact that they are able to continue working and living,
while whining and grumbling as they do, hints that under it all they
secretly hope that there is some slight chance of rescue.

And there is.

Life sweeps onward through time and space, even for those who are
hiding under rocks like a hellgrammite. There is no inevitability that
things will "improve" or "decline". There is only change and your own
potential to exert control over some part of that change.

At at given moment, you can bring about a dramatic change in your
own future by deciding to confront what it is that you are doing and
how it is related to your own chances of personal survival. It is this
incredibly powerful, yet subtle action of facing something and taking
responsibility for some part of it that starts you an the road to
taking control of your destiny.

Without getting into the broader issues of looking out for oneself
versus looking out for self, others and for humanity, it is sufficient
to say that the road to personal and community survival starts with
taking responsibility for your own condition in life and acting to
change it for the better.

This is true, even if you have struggled and lost every time you
tried to change things before. All that happened was that you didn’t
observe what part you played in your demise. You could have been
lacking information, because all the will-power and determination in
the world will not help you if you are being wrong-headed about who is
to blame for your present condition.

I say this, not from some lofty height of divinely inspired
enlightenment, but from having been guided by others to improve my
ability to confront my actions over time until I was able to see that I
exert control over life only to the extent that I can confront it.

If you would like to see things get better instead or worse, I
suggest that you might want to learn how to observe what is happening
and take responsibility for some small part of it. It could be
enlightening. Results may vary…

The glass of life is continually being refilled. Make sure you are prepared to drink deeply of it.

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0 Responses to The glass is neither half-empty nor half-full

  1. Mouse says:

    I rarely comment to criticise but I found this post offensive

    ‘whining losers’

    Depression is an illness
    It is a chemical imbalance
    And its sufferers are as deserving of sympathy and support as, say, diabetics

    Please, if you do not understand then don’t criticise

  2. Dear Mouse,

    I have enjoyed your delightful blog for some time.

    As an escapee from the rat race myself, I can appreciate your lyrical praise
    of life abroad.

    As for your comments on my post, I think you need to read it again. As a diabetic who has overcome depression without drugs, I know
    that sympathy is no help and serves only to create a class of victims.

    Embracing “victimology” serves no one well. The route out of any situation is to take responsibility for some part of that situation and DO something.

    Those who will not take responsibility for their situation in life are doomed to remain losers.

    My post was written for those who who are still willing to do something to change their lives for the better.

    Those who blame others for their condition in life do not fall in that category.

  3. Mouse says:

    Good Morning David

    Again, I have to differ, sympathy and understanding are essential to a person stuck in a depressive episode. Which is not to say that they should remain there, au contraire, but that they need to withdraw and wait it out until their mental clouds break and the sun shines through.

    I suspect, however, that your choice of words seemed, to me, unduly critical when perhaps they were no intended to be?

    The written word can seem harsh at times since it does not carry with it accents of acceptance and sounds of sympathy

    Best Wishes

  4. Ed Diril says:

    What a refreshing post and I absolutely agree. I believe that there are forces outside of our control. Thus, there will be cases where one might feel his actions are ineffective, but overall everything flows coherently and everything is aware of everything else. Ultimately, it all comes down to the mindset one adopts and that’s how everything appears to him.

  5. Dear Mouse,

    I agree completely. I think we have the same compassion for those who are stuck in a depressive episode.

    The English language has such a richness and capability for nuance that speaking clearly is only possible between those with similar vocabularies and experience. Even then, there are great gaps in communicating ideas of unusual importance.

    Sympathy, to me, is a communication of approval for the state someone is in and agreement that the person should remain in it and be rewarded for it.

    Compassion is based on a deep understanding of the circumstances a person is in and may include an offer of assistance to recover from it if the person wishes to do so. A truly compassionate person should never encourage someone to remain in a lower state by rewarding them for being there.

  6. Mouse says:

    Good Morning David

    We are “Divided by a common language”

    Sympathy for me means understanding and accepting another person’s state

    But I definitely agree that we should not reward those sunk in the mire of misery, merely that we should understand that depression IS an illness that may never be cured, merely endured

    Bonne journée!

  7. Tim says:

    David,
    Thank you.
    I believe all things happen for a reason. Sometimes it isn’t easy to admit that the reason is ME! I have been a manager of a regulated business for 25+ years, utilizing work force entry level staff. It’s been a long process, but I’m learning to “live” what I’ve been “teaching”. There are a number of folks I have given lip service sermons to in the past on this subject. I shamefully admit that the sermons were management tactics. Hopefully, some of them will be alert enough about their own life to track me down and challenge me!

    A toast: I raise a glass of life to all. Make your own vintage rare. Strive to eliminate any bitterness by nurturing the vines of your life’s contributions.

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