(A Sort Of, Kind Of Tongue-in-Cheek Post)
Nearly all my life I’ve been told that I’m a glass half-full person. I don’t see it that way. The glass is as full or empty as it is, but if there’s a hole in it that’s causing water to spill all over the floor, I’m going to notice and I’m going to want to mop it up or see it mopped up. I’m happy enough, though, when other people also notice the mess. I’m always perplexed by those who don’t: Who insist on refilling the same, leaky glass only so that they can again claim it’s half-full.
I’ve been shamed for my views. This is, after all, an age of positivity—of bright, Joel Osteen smiles and happiness retreats—and there’s something wrong with a person who’s not continuously happy, or scrambling to find (the half-full/not empty, the rose/not the thorns, the silver lining/not the clouds, the light/not the dark, fill-in-the-cliché). There’s just something so negative about putting that kind of energy into the universe.
That things like this have been said so often said by chronically hurting people who search for enlightenment in feel-good sermons and (often desperately) optimistic bromides doesn’t escape me. A leaky glass is a leaky glass, and I probably notice them because I have plenty of cracks in my own vessel. I just happen to harbor the notion that since none of us have hit upon the perfect world, or found the one, collective path to earthly Nirvana, there ought to be room for discourse.
I also believe that “negativity” has become an undeservedly scary bogeyman, and that the value of contentment is overblown. In fact, I can’t name one, great social change for the better that’s come about purely by way of positive thinking or happy people. People who are content see no need to change the status quo.
In the day-to-day, I don’t subscribe to the theory that it’s more important (or kinder, or morally superior) to point out what’s working than what’s not. True story: I once worked for a manager who was very big on motivational sayings—every wall in the building was plastered with posters extolling the hoorah virtues of teamwork and a good attitude—but despite all of his positivity, the business wasn’t growing and the bottom line was flat. He called the staff together for a brainstorming meeting, but he had one rule: He didn’t want to hear anything negative. He didn’t want a session about ideas to “deteriorate” into an airing of business judgments or policy complaints. I then watched a room full of intelligent adults try to tiptoe around some hard truths about why the company was failing to thrive. In the end, the manager heard nothing that was potentially business-changing, only more fruitless ideas that might fit into a broken model. I wasn’t there when he got fired, but I imagine he was the type to think that there was something mystical about his failure, like God or the universe having better plans for him.
Anyway, after years of being feeling frustrated, shamed, thwarted and reprimanded for being a glass half-full person, I finally decided to quit fighting and own it. After all, there are tens of thousands of positivity experts, life coaches and spiritual gurus with millions and millions of adherents. That realm is full while the other side, my side, is nearly empty. All indications are that it will stay that way (see? Glass half-full again), but it doesn’t matter. I don’t aspire to be another Tony Robbins or Rhonda Byrne. I’m happy enough to carry a mop.
I’m happy. Doing, thinking, and being what comes naturally to me.