Is the Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full?

UPDATED: June 8, 2019
PUBLISHED: January 23, 2015
Is the Glass Half Empty 0

If you saw me on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey, you’ll know that Oprah and I discussed the age-old question: Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

Even the positive-minded media mogul admitted to wrestling with the question. “I beat myself up because sometimes I look at it and I go, It’s definitely half-empty, and sometimes it’s half-full,” she said.

I would suggest a different way of looking at the metaphorical glass. We get so focused on ourselves and what’s inside the glass—our physical possessions, daily moods, failures and triumphs—and we can argue forever about the merits of being an optimist or a pessimist. Ultimately, however, the contents of the glass don’t matter; what’s more important is to realize there’s a pitcher of water nearby. In other words, we have the capacity to refill the glass, or to change our outlook.

Instead of asking ourselves whether we see the glass as half-empty or half-full, what if we focus instead on our pitcher? Oprah eloquently put it this way: “I would say that the world itself is the pitcher. Life is the pitcher.”

Begin building your positive outlook by asking yourself these questions: How can I reach out and better connect with my co-workers, neighbors or friends? What are some ways my actions matter to the world? What am I proud of accomplishing today?

Want to fill up your glass? Check out 9 ways to say no to negativity. 

Shawn Achor is a Harvard-trained researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness. Get a daily dose of happy at Shawn's Facebook page.