Optimism, realism and pessism

We all know the glass half full story, or rather stories … half full is the Optimist, half empty is the Realist. I would like to introduce the Pessimist who knows the glass is half empty and full of germs. And don’t forget the Opportunist who drank it while we were working out if it was half full or half empty.

As a metaphor for life it works pretty well. There is also the Pragmatist who doesn’t care whether it’s half full or half empty but will take what is available, roll up her/his sleeves and use it to get on with the task at hand. Occasionally,  someone asks, how do I get my glass to be half full instead of half empty? And this is the person you want to be.

To be a half full person you don’t need to overdose on positivity and I’m not going to drown you in cheerleader type exhortations. I am not going to teach you to be an Optimist. We are going to embrace the Pragmatist that takes what is available to build the next step. In our case, the next step is to be a person who lives life on equal terms, meets challenges with equanimity and, through that, finds a balance between life’s demands and life’s joys. Finding contentment rather than the hypomanic happy that is euphoria.

We cannot go through life attached to a feeling as powerful as having won Tattslotto or climbing Mt Everest. This is not a natural state. Neither is sadness or depression so we shouldn’t spend too much time there either. 

What you are going to do is become your own censor. You are going to filter the messages that your brain receives from your eyes and your ears. You are going to look and listen for negative and self defeatist messages and think about how you can reframe that message. And then reframe it. This doesn’t mean sugarcoating.

Some events are disastrous. Acknowledge that something bad happened but reframe, ie, that job interview or that presentation or meeting could have gone better; or, I could have managed my staff members lateness better. Never say I blew that interview/presentation/meeting and then beat up on yourself. Don’t berate yourself for overreacting to a staff members poor performance or for letting a staff member walk all over you. .. acknowledge that it was not your best performance and …. This is not where I tell you to walk on … This is where I suggest,  most strongly, that you sit with a pen and paper and do some really thorough analysis.

What were your expectations before the event? What role did each actor play in the event? What could you control? What couldn’t you control? Then step up and own the actions that you could control. Consider whether right in that moment if you could have chosen a different path and what that path might have been. Decide that you will behave that way in the future. Then chalk up this incidence to experience. Acknowledge that you are building resilience, take your learnings and continue to wander your path with a little more knowledge and a better understanding of yourself. The next time you are in a similar situation you will view it differently because you have taken those lessons on board and you know that the outcomes will be better … glass half full … and who knows .. One day it might be a full glass!

Happy wandering!

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