Is Your Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty? Why You Should be Grateful
Gratitude - this is the magical attitude that will open up the untold possibilities to your personal development. Let’s focus today on this single quality only, cause there’s a real treasure to be uncovered here.
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Why should you be grateful? Your job might suck, you might have quarrelled with your partner, you might be annoyed with your colleagues, you might not be progressing in things the way you want, you might not be pretty enough, you might not be confident enough, you might not be intelligent enough, you might not be tall enough, you might not bla bla bla etc. etc. etc.
Do you see what’s going on here? If you really want to find a problem with something, you’ll always be able to find any problem. Life by its nature is never perfect. To be perfect means to be infinite, but everything that you experience is finite and limited, and therefore it is imperfect. That’s why you will have plenty of examples to complain about if you really want to complain. But this will really miss the point of how you should spend your time if you want to be a good, happy and helpful person.
The right way of living is to focus on constructive stuff, on being good to other people and to yourself. And you won’t achieve that by always dwelling on the negative, imperfect stuff in society and life. You need to acknowledge the imperfections yes, but you also need to acknowledge what is already given and good. And that’s where gratitude comes into play.
Have you ever heard about the expression: is the glass half empty or half full? It is a common expression, a proverbial phrase to indicate that when facing a situation, two people can have two totally different and opposing views. One person might consider the situation optimistic, and say the glass is half full. Another person might consider the situation pessimistic and say the glass is half empty. Which is it? The answer is: objectively speaking, they are both kind of right, because indeed the water reaches only halfway within the glass. Both persons are faced with the same fact, however, both of them also interpret the same fact in two different ways. So what happens here is that although the fact is the same for both, there are two different perceptions of the same fact. Crazy, right? This matter becomes clear if we recognise that knowing facts is simply not enough. Our mind also wants to interpret the facts. So what does that mean to interpret something? To interpret something means to give it a meaning. So when faced with facts, our mind not only acknowledges the fact, but also wants to know what it means. The mind wants to make a moral, or ethical judgement upon the facts. And those judgements will be based upon your values, your ideals, and also your goals and personal experience from the past.
So as you see, we not only perceive facts, we also want to give facts a meaning, a meaning that is often quite personal because we make judgements based on our personal values and world-views. Expressed in another way: acknowledging a fact means recognising an objective physical event, but giving that fact a meaning means adding to that fact a bit of your own consciousness that imbues the fact with additional thoughts about your own inner life. That’s what it means to interpret something.
Now, to return to our original topic: what does that all have to do with gratitude? You see, gratitude is exactly that quality which will influence your perception, the way you want to interpret the situations around you. You can either think the glass is half empty, meaning you see the world pessimistically and think everything is shit and against you. Or you can think the glass is half full, meaning you see the world optimistically and think you’re on the right track and everything will be fine at the end. Gratitude is that inner filter, one of many, that helps you to see the glass as half full, to be thankful for what you already have, and just ignore what you don’t have. Gratitude lets us see the abundance in an imperfect world.
When you look at your thoughts with your inner sight and consciously decide to think thoughts of gratitude, you will see how this changes slowly, but definitely your inner state. If you cultivate the thoughts of gratitude, a feeling of gratitude and kindness will follow. With this positive inner filter you’ll start noticing the little things in life that are beautiful. Birds singing, children playing, sun shining, music playing... With a feeling of gratitude you suddenly have a thousand little reasons to be happy about, although nothing has changed in your outside world. However, you inner life, your consciousness, has changed, and you started to interpret the world with positive, constructive, elevating thoughts and feeling. Now you find yourself surrounded by half-full glasses everywhere.
One last thing needs to be mentioned here: I’m not talking here about denying reality. I’m not talking here about denying the pain and injustices of life. Sometimes the only way through is by facing the suffering and discomfort. All I say here is that no matter what you experience, there’s always a way to see the best aspects of your situation. And that will motivate you to take concrete steps to improve the world’s imperfections.
It’s better to experience discomfort and still be grateful for the present moment, rather than experience discomfort and complain and curse. Changing your perception, the way you give meaning to events, will also improve your inner experience and character. So, let’s raise a half-full glass in a toast to bettering our perceptions. Let’s be grateful for what we have.
I greatfully thank you for reading this article. Na-mas-te.