Friday, 28 August 2009

Is your glass half full or half empty?

Dick Jones of Patteran Pages (see my blog list) has posed a series of erudite questions which he has taken from a site called, simply, Edge. They are all questions which require an awful lot of thought. They were originally posed to the "great and the good" - i.e. scientists, philosophers etc
(all men, but we won't go into that here) - but Dick has answered them in an interesting way. So if you want to read questions and answers you need to go over to his site.
They are the sort of questions which make my nutmeg brain hurt! But I have been considering them and I shall address but one here (he invites us all to comment on them if we wish). I might address another one on another day but, frankly, I can only deal with one at a time. So here is the question:

What are you optimistic about?

Well, blog friends, I am optimistic about everything. Optimism is merely a state of mind, a concept and as such it has little bearing on the outcome of any situation. If you agree with that then you should also agree with me that there is little point in being pessimistic. I tried to think of a concrete situation rather than a hypothetical one in which the optimism/pessimism issue was to the fore. I remembered way back to 1939 when it became obvious that the appeasement of Hitler was not going to work, when the news was all black and it seemed inevitable that there would be war. I was a very small child. We were supposedly going on holiday for a week to the seaside and I had been talking about it for weeks. A few days before we were due to go my mother decided she could not even bear to pack the suitcase and, although I wittered and wittered (not understanding the course of events of course) she refused to get things ready and on the day we should have gone, instead we stood at our gate, along with the rest of the village after listening to Chamberlain's eleven o'clock broadcast "I have to tell you that we have received no such letter and that we are therefore at war with Germany". My mother was right not to go on holiday, you may be thinking. But I have to tell you that for a few weeks we were in for what became known as a "phoney war"; the weather was that beautiful early Autumn weather that can only really happen here in the British Isles and my mother never forgot that her pessimism cost us a week's holiday. For the rest of her life (and she did not die until 1971) she would sometimes remember that time and would say "We should have gone on that holiday you know - the weather was so good. It would have set us up nicely to fight that war!!"
So I am optimistic about things. If I sit here thinking that the awful war in Afghanistan is going to go on for years, that the world recession will never end, that swine flu is going to become an awful pandemic and sweep through the world, that I have lived my three score years and ten and could therefore pop off at any minute - what good will it do? None of those things will change in the slightest because I sit here in a pessimistic cloud. So - look on the bright side, I say - you have nothing to lose.

28 comments:

JC said...

True .. I was watching the news last night and it was bad. I thought how no matter what happens .. everyone just wants to have a nice day ... and, get back to normal ... and be happy.

I try each day to look for the joy in the world. Even if it is just my small world.

I cannot imagine how it felt during those times but life isn't easy and it's those precious moments that get us through the bad ones.

I too wish she had taken you on Holiday but just the thought of a Holiday can get you through most anything.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

My glass is always at least half full. Isn't a sip of something often almost as good as a full glass?

One must live in the moment. You can either make the best of it…or not. I choose, to the best of my ability on a given day and situation, to find the positive, the good, the beauty and hope in whatever I'm handed.

I'd rather be thankful for a small blessing than angry about not being anointed daily by miracles.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

This set me thinking - it's not so easy always to be optimistic. But Grizzled's comment makes one realise that we need to be grateful for the small blessings. It is just that, for some, the pessimistic view is reality.

HelenMHunt said...

A very timely post for me at the moment as I have been feeling somewhat sorry for myself and know I need to snap out of it.

ewix said...

This is definitely a temperament thing.
And aren't total misery-guttses a pain to be around?
I have an ex-colleague who sends me blizzards e-mails lamenting everything possible......on a daily basis.
Nothing ever, ever, ever will make him content.
Of course, there are perfectly awful things out there that we must strive to get rid of.....
Such a pity you didn't go to the seaside so long ago...

Heather said...

I heartily agree with you Weaver, and would describe myself as an optimistic realist - always hopeful but ready to face difficulties if necessary. We would miss so many lovely things in life if we worried about what might happen.

Poet in Residence said...

I think being optimistic or pessimistic depends on a variety of factors - your war incident for example - and also probably has a genetic element. I tend to err on the glass half full side for the simple reason that whoever created the universe must have known what he/she/it7they was/were/are/is doing - to keep anything going i.e. universe plc - for 15,000,000,000 years takes an expert. In such an expert I have complete faith. He, she, it (or whatever) is definitely IN CONTROL. No worries!

gleaner said...

I'm a glass half full disposition and so the smallest things always give me joy, often the things that others don't notice. My mother often would say 'good things come in small packages" which probably helps keep this perspective. Being in-tune with all the marvelous and miraculous things happening quietly whilst life is going on keeps me in good spirits.

Weaver I really enjoyed this reflection

Kayla coo said...

I so want to be an optimist but I tend to be a worrier!
This is from my Mother so perhaps it is genetic or it's rubbed off on me.
Luckily my husband is always optimistic!

Amy said...

always half full as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't hurt to be real but at the same time positive.

Wanda said...

I am a contented optomist all the way. My husband does enough worrying for the both of us!

steven said...

thanks for writing this weaver. you bring what goodness you can in the time you're given to as many people as possible. that's the game of life on the surface. go deeper and it's about opening the eyes of those around you to the riches and the joys and the love. steven

Titus said...

Oh no, I'm the empty! Pessimist by nature, occasionally ostrich bury head and forget!, so thanks for the injunction!
Brilliant story of your mother.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Oh, I so agree with you Weaver! And not going on holiday has probably helped to shape your optimistic attitude to ensure that would not happen again, so even that had it's positive effect! (Hope I've written that so it makes sense!)

Kim said...

I'm a half full girl. It has been said of me that I am always positive no matter the knocks that life has laid on one's door occaisionally (as life is apt to do). I flatly refuse to give in to anything that will leave me feeling flat and/or morose. That is until some idiot interrupts me when I'm reading/watching a movie/making art and now that glass is just damn empty as I have drunk it, and you had better refill it fast,and all the way to the top too! LOL!

Pam said...

I think I'm too much the optimist.My mantra seems to be a repetative "it'll be fine, it'll be fine", until someone politely points out, "well actually it may not".Latest incident was a bone density result that shocked the doctor.Rattled away with the mantra, until doctors and friends stated otherwise. My response? "At least it's not the big C !". I think when I exit the world one day, they'll put on my headstone, "Could be worse... or not".

willow said...

I'm heading back to the manor humming...always look on the bright side of life...tee-dum, tee-dum, tee-dummity dummity dum! :D

Totalfeckineejit said...

The only thing about pessimism is that it negates disappointment and is there a worse feeling than disappointment? (7pm Mon we have a date, don't forget or I'll be disappointed :) )

Hildred and Charles said...

Oh, always half full, Weaver, but I believe it's a genetic thing too. Half of my family are pessimists and I feel such sympathy for them (of course they got it from their Father! hehe) It is not easy to maintain a carefree attitude when one assumes all the troubles of the world on one's own shoulders.

Golden West said...

Definitely more than half full, sometimes even running over. I've always thought that good health is true wealth.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Amen and amen!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"look on the bright side, I say - you have nothing to lose."

I really, really try to do that. Sometimes I feel I'm fighting an uphill battle with many, though. Much easier to be unhappy than happy, do you think? Just imagine all the words that describe unhappiness. Now, all the words to describe happy. Harder task.

But, I vow to not give up to the negative.

ChrisJ said...

Not sure where I fit in this discussion. I always think the glass is half empty, but I don't think of myself as a pessimist. I'm a realist. I like to deal with things as they are. When I consider what is the worst that could happen and decide that I can handle it then am I an optimist? If I decide I can't handle it and do something instead else, then I am a realist. I don't fret over things I can't control. Maybe I'm a control freak!!

Professor A B Yaffle said...

I always live my life in as positive frame of mind as I can.
If things don't turn out then at least I haven't wasted my life being down hearted in the time leading up to the moment that I find out.
Optimism is like laughter it helps others to lighten their hearts.
But in nature there are always opposites.
Pessimism is negative and like depression or worrying is impossible for those afflicted to ignore.
That is why we need to be optimistic, because otherwise the world would really be such a sadder place.
We would not venture forward as a race.
Failure is positive, because it meant that at least one tried.
Be a Tigger and not an Eyore is what I say.
If my glass is at times half empty, then I have enjoyed the first half and have the other half to look forward to and I am thankful that at least I once had a full glass.

The Weaver of Grass said...

JC Thanks for calling - please call again.
Scribe - couldn't put it better myself.
How uplifting to read all your comments - there is little point in answering them individually as you are all saying virtually the same thing - be happy, be positive; look on the bright side - let's just all keep doing that whatever the future may bring.

Pondside said...

I'm very pragmatic, but at the same time, I'm an optimist. I live in the real world, but with hope and acceptance.
I enjoyed this post!

Janice Thomson said...

Excellent post - love your attitude.
I'm a half full person as well agreeing wholeheartedly with your thoughts. Pessimism is neither healthy nor natural.

cherie said...

i thank you for this blog because i had been feeling down for some reason these past few days...