Our society and the peer pressure is pushing us to embrace is the superiority of optimism. We have been programmed (from family and schooling) to the verge of obsession with positivity. The HR of corporations measure it, nations focus on happiness indices, the media at large analysis the social benefits of optimism. The general attitude is modeled towards seeing the glass half full. If you don’t, then it’s a bad attitude which labels one as a negative prospect!
But is it? Actually, the glass isn’t half full or half empty. It’s both, or neither. In life nothing is static, everything is dynamic. There is constant change, the clocks ticks and every second is gone. Life is a cycle and even the way the day progress, there is a constant dynamism about life! When you really look at it closely, there is no such thing as a “constant”. So the proverbial cliché of the “glass is half full” is defunct! In actuality the glass is in a state of constant continual change. It’s neither full nor empty and is seldom half and half! And as many (from HRs to phycologists) have been labeling the related thought pattern as good or bad, in reality there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking about it in either way makes it so.
Unfortunately when we’re attached to seeing things half full or half empty, preferring this or that, good or bad, we are missing the real big picture. This concept pushes one to formulate opinions, preferences, options, sometimes misconceptions, and to cling to them though they cause suffering and sometimes hardships. We identify with our thoughts, and decide whether or not we like things before experience begins. Likewise, we decide the significance of events when their relevance is unknowable.
This (duality) selection process even when positive, pushes one to preferring concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true. It misses the fact that, almost invariably, everything is a bit of everything in differing degrees (do you remember the ever changing dynamic nature?), and we don’t know what anything means when it’s happening.
Everything is relative and shifting, there are no fixed limits. Time does not stand still. Nothing endures. Nothing is final. In an ever changing world with so many forces at play, the only thing that’s sure is that things could be different and will not stay the same. Since we are fully aware of this truth about life and its dynamism why do we keep embracing duality and not stay neutral in this case, rather than get attached to a temporary state in which we force ourselves to think of the glass is half full or half empty.
In fact, abandoning duality leads to illumination, and is the way to enlightenment. In Eastern philosophy and traditions the truth has no this or that, the path in life has no ordinary or holy. Gain is loss and loss is gain. Successes create pressures that are unpleasant and even big failures can be instructive, thus are fundamental to success. That perspective provides resilience, the ability to keep going instead of getting stuck imaging how things could or should be or will be when things go some other way. So don’t look at the glass half full or half empty.
Do not be a prisoner of your expectations, things will shift without you trying. Paying less attention to duality will make success and failure no big deal, which happens to make dealing with life just a little easier and makes us somehow more successful.
Posted by Hal Tezcan,
Startup Business Sherpa and founding partner of Startup Port.
Originally published on Startup Port Blog