Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Half? Or Half?

There is something fascinating in what we reveal about ourselves when we give an opinion. Two people can see the same thing as quite different, opposite in fact. One sees that the glass is half full, while to the other it is clearly half empty. Both are right. It is simply that they are different people, probably seeing every situation as either reassuring or as very much to be watched.

Unsettled weather is threatening to one and hopeful to the other. To one, a thousand dollars is very much alright, to the other far from being security. A healing broken leg is great to one, crippling to the other. A hamburger is junk food to one, but very satisfying to the other. I could go on and on, but we all know this. Why this difference?

Staying with our either/or hypothesis, the answer could be in-born or acquired. I suppose it could be both, and I think it is. We are conditioned by our surroundings as soon as, or perhaps before, we are born, so our behaviours, including our attitudes and opinions, are indeed both from heredity (DNA if you like) and from environment (of all sorts). I don't think we can fully pin this down, but in any case there are these two sorts of people we must deal with, the optimists and the pessimists, and I proclaim myself to be the half-full type. "I know and know full well" that I am right, and yet I know that "they" are right too. Collectively, we are all on the edge of being sane, with all the problems that accompany this state of being. And musing on these things doesn't do much to change the world around me, but it sure is fun.

20 Comments:

At 4:28 AM, Blogger Keith said...

Sorry, the above comment was wrong.
Try again...

My theory is that it depends whether you are a "have" or "have-not" person. I was brought up by parents who were poor and had practically nothing, so I found myself thinking negatively, that the glass was "half empty". On the other hand, to us, a thousand dollars (or GB pounds) was an absolute fortune; something we never had!

 
At 10:13 AM, Blogger Stuntmother said...

This is an interesting post and something I have pondered myself. I am a can-do Yankee, while my husband is a can't-do Brit. Over the years, we have balanced each other quite well. Yet, there is a psychology researcher at UPenn (Seligman) who believes that optimism is crucial to basic success and happiness (whatever they are) and also believes that it can be taught, can be inculcated whatever our innate tendencies. Very interesting.

 
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At 9:25 PM, Blogger Jim said...

One of the most difficult things I try to show people is that people aren't a
'certain way', not objects and 'potential' is a very limiting notion compared to possibiltiy -- from a languaging point of view, all assessments are neither true OR false no matter how many people agree and are different than an assertion which might be true or false (a fact) but can be verified from an independent perspective. Shakespear said nothing in the Universe is postive or negative but thinking makes it so. A pessimist and an optimist are the same critter -- someone that thinks their point of view is the way it is.

 
At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always thought that the half full/empty analogy depended on whether I'm drinking or pouring.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger anomalous4 said...

"The pessimist says the glass is half empty. But the optimist drinks it anyway."

 
At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Reynold said...

It won't truly have success, I believe so.
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