Is the glass half full or half empty?

It is said to be a matter of perception. And that how a person perceives the volume of liquid in a glass is somehow indicative of that person’s world view.

I personally think that is silly shit. And do professional therapists really make a judgement of a patient’s basic optimism or pessimism based on their assessment of how much liquid is in a glass? It’s a metaphor and I’m not a metaphor person. (Meaning of metaphor: “a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, especially something abstract.”)

Googling around, my assessment of the value of the ‘glass half empty/half full’ construct is not supported – fancy that. LOL Three or 4 or seven citations all hold to the optimism/pessimism/world view interpretation.

But I have always styled myself as a pragmatist (pragmatic: “dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations”.) I describe my pragmatism as a lack of imagination – what you see is what you get, what is, IS and mostly it means nothing more than what it means. (a rose by any other name is still a rose…)

Yet I did find an enchanting interpretation of this phrase – much of which I do not understand. The article in question starts out with – “Traditionally, the optimist sees the glass as half full while the pessimist sees it as half empty. This has spawned a zillion joke variants—e.g., the engineer sees a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be, the surrealist sees a giraffe eating a necktie, etc.”

The part that I don’t completely understand has to do with physics, and the article ends with “The lesson: If the optimist says the glass is half full, and the pessimist says the glass is half empty, the physicist ducks.”

If you’d like to read the article for yourself, you can find it at What If? (glass half empty)

Round and round we go – Is it the filling of a glass? The emptying of a glass? A matter of how thirsty you are? Or a metaphor for possibilities? Or…

13 thoughts on “Is the glass half full or half empty?

  1. I totally believe the “glass half full or half empty” philosophy. Some people even see the “glass half empty” if one stupid sip is taken out of it. At which time that tells me all I need to know about a person. The “half empty” folks always find something wrong…. with every freakin’ thing. 🙂 A “glass half full” person will see the sunshine and be grateful for it…. a “glass half empty” person will dwell on the 10 minutes in a day that the sun WASN’T shining. “Glass half empty” folks usually end up with no one wanting to be around them. What a waste of a life.

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    1. Obviously I disagree – I don’t think you can make assessments about a person based on how much liquid they say is in a glass – But then I’ve never actually heard a real person say – My glass is half empty or My glass is half full – Conversations about the level of liquid in a glass usually run along the lines of “Come on – fill ‘er up, whadda ya cheap?” Or – “my glass is empty – fill ‘er up!” Or – “Would you like a re-fill? No thanks, I’ve had enough” Or “See, I drank all my milk, now can I go?”

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  2. I think that the half full vs half empty glass is more of a description of optimism vs pessimism rather than a means of evaluating which a person might be. That’s just my thoughts on it and I’m sure withers will see it differently just as we all see the glass differently

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    1. And you would be wrong! It is used as an assessment tool by so-called professionals. And yes, it can be used as a metaphor for optimism/pessimism I just really, really, really don’t know why. If you are in the process of filling up a glass then it is half full; if you are in the process of of emptying a glass, then it is half empty – What in the name of all that is holy has that to do with optimism/pessimism?

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    1. Exactly! That’s what I said to Ann but people do insist that the way you describe the level of liquid in a glass is indicative of your personal outlook. I don’t get it.

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  3. It depends on which way the glass is being filled on if it’s empty or full so I never understood how someone can be judged on how they see it. Ay yi yi!

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