A Lesson in Perspective

» Posted by on Oct 28, 2017 in Alpha Blog | 0 comments

A Lesson in Perspective

The idea of the glass being half empty vs. half full is pretty well known to everyone. Often people will say something along the lines of “I’m trying to be positive, you know see the glass as half-full”, or something such as “he is just so negative, always views the glass as half empty”. While this is just a figure of speech, the way and the frequency with which it is used shows an interesting fact about our society.

Because in all honesty, who cares if the glass is half full or half empty? Either way there is the same amount of water in it, right? Rather, if someone was truly insightful they would realize it doesn’t matter at all, because we have the ability to refill the glass at any time. In other words, rather than dwell on if a situation is good (half full), or bad (half empty), shouldn’t we be looking for a solution or at the very least just not focusing on things that we can’t change?

As a society we have become almost programmed at times to try to justify why a situation is good or why it is bad. That often adds up to a lot of wasted time for everyone involved, and ultimately it allows you to make excuses for yourself and stay in a negative place. Arguing the virtue of  a situation or the evil of a situation changes nothing. An individual’s view on a situation likewise doesn’t change the facts of the situation, so focusing on whether an incident is good or bad does nothing but cause emotions that are not necessarily helpful.

This isn’t to say that you should never get upset, happy, mad, or worried about a situation. These emotions have important roles and often act as safeguards when used appropriately. However, pouting becuase you feel like your boss unfairly yelled at you for being late won’t help you or anyone else. Rather than focusing on why your boss is mean, and it wasn’t your fault, take the facts and look for a result. The facts may be something like, you went to lunch and the food took longer than expected, you ate and came back to the office and were 15 minutes late, your boss found this unacceptable and told you so. Those are the facts. When you view it that way it doesn’t seem like you have a mean boss it seems like you didn’t meet expectations. While you can’t control your boss’s reaction (and it may well have been an over-reaction, but again that is not something to focus on), you can control your actions that led to that reaction. If you want to avoid this in the future, you can bring lunch, not go to the same place to eat, or plan for unexpected delays when choosing a lunch venue.But as humans we generally do not see things this way. Rather the typical person would get their feelings hurt, start resenting their boss, and maybe even go so far as start looking for another job.

The point of viewing the glass as refillable rather than half empty or full is that it puts you in control. So rather than stewing and thinking “My boss is such a jerk, he just doesn’t understand that 30 minutes isn’t enough time, he has always hated me for no reason…” you can look for a solution. Your thought pattern may go something like this instead “I need to be more respectful of rules to avoid this in the future.” This second thought empowers you to change the situation in the future while the first thought pattern does nothing other than make you a victim and keep you spinning in negativity.

Try this technique in your day to day life and see if it helps you navigate stressful or sad situations in a more clear headed way. Even if it doesn’t empower you to think clearer it will save you the time and energy of debating why something happened or if what happened is good or bad.When you view situations and can see what you can change or improve you will not only feel more in control but you will gain some true perspective on what actually happened and what role you played in it.

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