Optimism – The Power of Seeing a Half Full Glass

There is a famous statement that an optimist will see a glass half that is full, while a pessimist will see a glass that is half empty.  The basis behind these distinctions is that people who practice optimism tend to focus on what is there.Conversely, people who possess a more pessimistic worldview tend to focus on what is missing.

To many people, the color of reality is closer to pessimism than optimism.  After all, life isn’t fair.  The nice guy always seems to finish last.  Vast inequality exists between people and between countries that defy many people’s imagination.  How can somebody possibly be an optimist?  Optimism seems to be the province of a foolish Pollyanna type worldview that fails to comprehend reality.

The Truth of Reality

In order to objectively examine the quality and power of our worldview, it is important to gain an understanding of the true and full nature of reality.  Simply put, reality is what is.  Reality is and only can be what exists, what is here, what is present.  It must be something … it must contain a form.  Reality must be defined by substance, it cannot be defined by a vacuous and subjective notion of what is missing.

Understanding this focuses the context of our experience and allows us to live in the world of what is.  By focusing our attention on what is, instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted by wants and wishes, it creates a much more solid basis upon which to act.  Accepting what is does not mean that we cannot create change … it means that we understand how change works within the context of our present reality.  We must influence our reality in order to change it.

The Power of Optimism

The power of seeing a half-full glass comes from the focus on the objective reality that can only spring from what is.  Our only point of influence on reality comes when we change the nature of what is.  This requires us to focus on the things we can influence, and only the things we can influence.  Most people waste their creative power by obsessing over what they feel to be missing, wrong, or unfair.

The power of optimism flows from a focus on what is available and what is present.  Most people possess far more power to influence their life than they are able to understand.  Our futures can be definitively shaped by the decisions that we make.  As the quality of these decisions increase, and as the proximity of these decisions converge on the segments of our life that we can influence and change, our control on the future increases.

Possibility Exists Beyond the Reach of Blame

A principal problem in the interactions between most people, companies, and governments is that too much discussion revolves around blame.  A prevalent destructive assumption is that anything which goes wrong must be somebody’s fault.  This creates a firestorm of blame shifting and blame deflecting.  To influence the course of your future, you must look beyond fault.  Focus on what can be done to improve the future.

To the extent that mistakes are or have been made, it is important to learn from them so that they are not repeated.  However, excessively focusing on who is to blame for mistakes all but guarantees a lack of future achievement.  Even when bad things happen to us that we do absolutely nothing to cause, we must understand that our lives exist in a reality of random events that are largely beyond our control.  Railing out against the person who caused our hardship does absolutely nothing to improve our situation.

When understood and applied properly, these principals create a tremendous base of power for us to influence our personal, professional, and financial lives.  Our personal relationships encounter difficulties when we blame one another for problems or mistakes.  Our workplace problems often revolve around assigning blame, shifting blame, and attempting to avoid blame.  Many of the financial problems that people work themselves into evolve from an unwillingness to admit past mistakes and learn.


In the end, each of us possesses the power to influence the course of our personal, professional, and financial future.  Unfortunately, there are startlingly few who choose to use this power.  Too many people allow their pride, politics, and emotions to block the actions and decisions that can shape the course of their future.  Too many people cannot let go of their conceptions about the problems and unfairness of life, and fail to create the changes in their own life and the lives of people about them that can help to bring about the changes they desire.  Each of us must make our own choices, must decide how we will view the glass, and must take ownership over the future direction of our life.

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