Got Milk?

“Is the glass half empty or half full?” is a common expression generally used to indicate that a situation could be a cause for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty). I personally have always said the glass is “half full with plenty of milk in the fridge.”  I am an optimistic realist, I like to see things positively and that there are more opportunities you can add to your glass.

There are other ways to look at this situation than just half empty or half full:

  • The glass is twice as big as it needs to be. Make sure you set the right expectations.
  • Pour the milk into a smaller glass. Be able to readjust your expectations.
  • How about adding ice to fill the glass? Be able to think outside the box.
  • The glass is both half empty and half full, it is also equal parts milk and air. You can have a balanced perspective.
  • It’s not about half empty or half full, it’s whether there is something in the glass at all. Be thankful for what you have.
  • Who cares, it is what’s inside the glass that is important. It is the substance of life that matters. So, is it milk, cod liver oil, or the finest wine?
  • Who drank the other half of my milk? Don’t worry about others.
  • Technically its 50% fluid and 39% Nitrogen and 11% Oxygen by volume. Don’t be so overly technical about things.
  • Since both full and empty are absolute states, they are therefore incapable of being halved or modified in any way. That’s the problem with absolutes.
  • The Italian grandmother only sees the dirty glass. So, she washes, dries it, then puts it away. Don’t let others clean up your messes.
  • If the glass is equally half full and half empty, then half full = half empty; therefore, ½ x F = ½ x E; by multiplying both sides of the equation by 2 we show that F = E; such that Full equals Empty! You can always be subjected to data “spin.”
  • In today’s polarized political scene, the politician says that under the last administration the glass was half-empty and becoming emptier. However, thanks to his own party’s new leadership, the glass is now half-full, and becoming fuller. Speaking of “spin.”

The Taoist will see the glass as both half empty and half full, that neither half could exist without the other, requiring a point of balance to maintain equilibrium in the universe, and therefore, are merely two mirror images of the same realistic concept, so in the purity of absolute truth the glass is neither half full or half empty, the glass simply IS.

Perspective influences everything. The world is not only as it is, it is as we see it and we do not see it in purely objective terms. We are subjective beings and see everything through a filter, our biases – strong or subtle. Buddha stated, “life is a creation of the mind.” Shakespeare put it differently when he said, “there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Those of us who grew up on 1970s TV were treated to the philosophy of Flip Wilson’s character, Geraldine, when he (she) said, “what you see is what you get.”

The way we perceive something is the way we will receive it. Expecting good things to happen will lead to taking actions that produce positive results. The ‘woe is me’ person will filter everything through a negative lens. Eeyore would say to Winnie-the-Pooh, “Well, at least you have a glass.”

Research has found that seeing the glass half full not only makes you happier, it makes you healthier and wealthier. A study by Psychologist Susan Segerstrom found that ten years after graduation, law students who tested optimistic earned an average of $32,667 more than their glass-half-empty peers. Professor Segerstrom’s research also found that optimism affected their immune response and yielded better health outcomes.

We make a choice to look at a situation as a glass half full or half empty. We can look at how big our problem is, or we can look at how big our God is. We can focus on our circumstance or we can fix our eyes on Christ and God’s plan for us.

The Apostle Paul was a “glass-half-full” type of guy, who when asked this question might have declared, “By the power Christ gives me, I can fill this glass up!” In 2 Corinthians 6:8-10, Paul writes a series of seven rhetorically effective contrasts of negative external impressions with positive inner reality – “through glory and dishonor, insult and praise. We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.” Paul chose to see the positive in everything that he went through. He chose to look at his situations in faith and not fear. How was Paul, with everything he was going through and had been through, able to look at the glass as being half full? Paul knew that God would work everything out in his life for God’s glory and for his good. He believed that if it wasn’t good, it wasn’t over.

How we look at the glass is our choice, it is not due to genetics or good fortune. Studies have shown that perspective can influence our lives for the better. So, if what we see is what we get, then see the glass as half full. While you are at it, go get the milk (or wine) out of fridge for a refill.

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