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Half Full or Half Empty?

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Author: Heena

“Is the glass half empty or half full?” is a common expression that you may have encountered often before. The question frames our perception of the world: are we the negative pessimists or the positive optimists? For most of my life I found myself with the half empty group and I hated myself for it. I didn’t want to view the world that way but no matter how much I tried I couldn’t see that cup as half full.

Fast forward a couple of years and I have managed to change my views.  But I won’t be able to give advice on how to become an optimist. I still struggle seeing that glass as half full. But I have shifted away from thinking that it’s half empty. There’s an idea that if it’s not positive it has to be negative. That’s not how the world works, and it is this exact thought process that traps us in the half empty group.

I still struggle seeing that glass as half full. But I have shifted away from thinking that it’s half empty.”

So, if the absence of positive is not negative, what is it? In my definition I choose to believe that it is simply neutral. That glass is just a glass of water and no matter the role we assign it that level of water won’t change. We often try to assign meaning to things that don’t need to hold value by categorizing our life into good and bad. When life gets difficult, it’s not easy to see the positives and our inability to stay positive can cause us to fall back to those negative thoughts. You can’t change what has happened in your life, but we can accept that it has occurred. When things go astray, forcing opinions and meaning on to those events can be straining. Like the water, what you believe won’t necessarily change what has occurred.

We often try to assign meaning to things that don’t need to hold value by categorizing our life into good and bad.”

Rather than drowning in emotions attached to past events, move with the motions of life. Sometimes there’s no reason to question if it’s half empty, it just makes your life more confusing and heartbreaking than it needs to be. Life moves in ways that are unknown and incomprehensible and sometimes the best way to handle that is to simply let it be. 

Our relationship with stress

Up until recently, I believed that stress was the worst thing possible. Don’t get me wrong, high levels of stress are cause for concern. But I believed that stress on its own was inherently bad.  Until recently when I watched a Ted Talk that completely changed my own relationship with this unforgiving feeling of stress. The truth is that stress is something that will always impact your life because your environment are filled with stress and to ignore it is not applicable for many.

As a student I am constantly told to not be stressed while also being reminded of dozens of tasks due the next day. While their advice is not wrong, it can seem out of touch to the reality of being a student and a teenager, as well as not overly helpful. It’s not easy to abandon those feelings when tests and assignments are piling up and the burden of your future weighs you down. It seems quite frankly impossible.

Rather than trying the impossible task of just not being stressed, I think that our understanding of stress should be deepened.

If stress is a constant in your life, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing. There is a reason that you get stressed as your body is built to handle and respond to and deal with life’s challenges. Rather than trying the impossible task of getting rid of your stress, your approach should revolve around forming a healthy relationship with that force. Your body and the way it functions is not just an accident, it’s by design. There’s a reason your body reacts and responds the way you do. The body’s response to stress is not to make the situation worse but to prepare the body to handle whatever is coming your way.

You can’t avoid stress, but you can question why. You can question the reasons for acting the way you do and more importantly how you can fulfill those needs in the present. Identifying that your response aids you in your tasks rather than sets you back is a practice that should be encouraged amongst our age group. If stress is always going to be in your life, it’s best that you develop a healthy relationship with it. Instead of making it your enemy, understand that in many ways it can be your friend. You can’t get rid of the deadlines and problems in your life, but you can step back and choose to do something positive about it.


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