Perception: Half Full or Half Empty?

We’ve all heard the old adage “is your cup half empty or half full?” I’m assuming most of you have fully ascertained the significance of this question, but in case you’ve missed it, the point is to demonstrate whether you are an optimism or pessimist. It’s all about perception – your perception.


Growing up I was clearly a pessimist, especially in direct contrast to my mother, an eternal optimist, and yet, though I still lean towards pessimism (more correctly in my case cynicism), I generally see my cups as half full. I’m not sure that either approach creates more success or happiness for any of us, but I do feel that chronically seeing your life (cup) as half empty can lead you towards inactivity, indecisiveness, and depression. Some may argue that the optimistic approach can lend oneself into complacency, and they might be right. It really comes down to what you do about the cup once you clarify it’s condition.


If you feel your cup (life) is half empty, how motivated are you to fill the rest of it?

Conversely, if your life is half full, is that enough or will you strive to “top off the cup?”

I’m asking these questions today because I find that my clients often seek my help in teaching them how to fill their lives/cups fully – regardless of whether they’re seen as half full or half empty. After all, a FULL LIFE is what we all want, right?

So my advice to this issue is to first acknowledge whether you base approach to life is pessimistic (negative) or optimistic (positive). Then find a motivating goal that fits in with your approach. In other words, if you view your cup as half full – you should seek out a goal that challenges you to work harder and gain even more positive results – capitalizing on your already existing confidence and optimism.


Those that tend towards half empty perceptions, might benefit more from goals that change their approaches – find new ways to inspire and fill the voids – ways that blast through pessimism and leave achievement in their wake. You might also discover that you perceive some aspects of your life as half full while other areas are half empty. That’s okay, that’s probably what most of us do. Just remember to alter your goals to fit your feelings.

I tend to feel that positive viewpoints need to constantly up the challenge, while negative viewpoints need to think outside the box more. Either version of motivators work – but everyone and every circumstance needs a different kind of push. They key to remember is that motivators are not one-size-fits-all. (What motivates you to lose weight or improve your relationships will not necessarily work for the next person.)


When none of these approaches fit the bill – I say drink the cup down, and start fresh. As you know if you’ve followed by blog for any length of time, I generally prefer to shake it all up, and be the one to control what’s happening in my life (filling my cup) – and that way I can assure that I can fill it to the best of my abilities. Lastly I will leave you with this wonderful quote from president Harry S. Truman:


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