Thought Catalog

The Glass Isn’t Half-Empty Or Half-Full. The Glass Is Always Full.

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We all know that phrase, that saying; that sometimes tired, regurgitated idea that the glass is either half-full or half empty, depending on how you look at it. And it always seems that the half-fullness of the glass is pointed out to us at the times we do not wish to remember it. People, I think, have a knack for the clichéd when they have nothing useful to add to conversation. I think we are all guilty of this. At least let me speak for myself: I am sometimes guilty of this.

It is strange to thing to think of the glass as being half-full all the time and especially when you are at a point in life when things are so obviously not okay. Perhaps when romantic relationships are broken or always seem to elude you. Perhaps when friendships and familial and working relationships are severed, and the solution to them seem beyond your control. Perhaps during times of loss and grief; during situations that humble and humiliate you, during struggles with health, with faith, and with the many practicalities of life. There is so much that can go wrong in life that it is almost a testament to God, I think, that any of us dare to hope and be happy at all.

But as we get older, we know or at least we ought to know that life owes us very little, if anything at all. It is a somber truth but it is one that has the capacity to motivate you to enjoy every moment of celebration you are capable of. And not just because pain is almost always nearby, lurking; looking for trouble – looking for you. But because moments of celebration often seem so precious and few and far between the mundane and the pain. And indeed we even learn to appreciate the mundane because we become quite weary of news – we learn that no news is good news or at the very least, it is not bad news.

And during the bad news, we deal with our pains the best we can – grief, loss, hurt, etc. – they look different on everyone. Some of us need the tears, some of us need to work, some of us need noise, and some of us need silence. Still, some of us need it all and some of us need nothing at all but to go on and to keep on. And still there are some don’t know what they need until they find it. People are different even when they are the same. And when we survive these moments and times of pain, the best of us will still swear up and down that the glass, this invisible glass we are always talking about, is half full. Perhaps.

But what if I were to present the idea that the glass is not half full or half empty, but rather the glass is always full? It was said to me by an acquaintance once. He was being clever by half and pointed out that the glass, when partially filled with any liquid substance, is still also filled with air, and is therefore always full. I appreciated the scientific joke then but perhaps I appreciate the metaphor more, especially now, these days; today.

Because this suggests that even when the glass looks half-empty or looks half-full, whichever way we think about it in the moment, it doesn’t actually change the reality of the glass – that the glass is always full. Now that idea, I think, can really change how we think of things and how look at things. That idea, I think, can change everything. Our perceptions will always be important but we don’t need perception to get us by if objective reality will serve us better. So remember that the next time you find yourself looking at the glass; remember that the glass is always full. TC mark

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