If you think there must be two sides to every question, you've probably spent a little time considering your personal answer to one of the most famous (overused, even) philosophical questions: Is the glass half-full or half empty?
That question is not a self-help cliché. It goes to the very heart of the question of happiness and fulfillment--as a leader in the workplace and in your personal life. If you're smart, asking that question may be an attitude check you administer to yourself occasionally, and if so, you are doing the right thing: being a mindful steward of a healthy outlook on life. Your colleagues, employees, and clients surely appreciate your lack of pessimism and joyful, forward-facing outlook on life.
But what if your life falls short of sheer joy sometimes (or all the time)? What if you don't feel completely fulfilled? What if this holiday season is not blissful and uncomplicated for you? What if you're more burned out than contented; what if you have personal issues that are making you struggle to see the bright side; what if everything does not seem like it's going to be all right?
Now, it's not as if you need me to waste your time with platitudes, but the real answer to the glass-half-full question came to me when I spotted--of all things--an Internet meme: "Those who ask whether the glass is half full or half empty forget one important thing: The glass is refillable."
The glass is refillable.
Think about that. How simple; how perfect. Whether your own glass is filled to the brim with profits and goodwill or whether you're down to the dregs on energy, job satisfaction, and cash flow, know this: You can still refill your glass.
Suppose you work in an open-plan space where your nearest office mates are complainers. There you sit in your cubicle, day after day, surrounded by other people's petty remarks, jealousy, and sniping.
It would not be surprising if you started to find yourself low on job satisfaction, given your co-workers' readiness to show you the downside of every opportunity. "Mary should have gone on that trip, not Ellen," one person might be saying, while in your other ear you're hearing, "The corporate office just wants us to fill out that survey to cover their own hind ends. Why should I do it?" Your glass of team spirit is looking bone dry right around now.
The emptiness of your glass might be an opportunity rather than a tragedy. Look how much space you have to fill with new and better stuff. A 2015 Journal of Applied Psychology study says that suggesting ways to think positively and improving the attitude in your workspace has a positive effect on both morale and productivity.
Pointing out downsides and problems helps you figure out what to improve. It also leads to mental fatigue and defensiveness that damage your ability to get work done.
There are plenty of ways to do it.
So think positively! When you're adding up your personal profit/loss statement at the end of the calendar year, how about considering all the new things you can add to your glass that will make your life at home and at work more profitable, more interesting, and more valuable to others. Why waste time lamenting what you do not have when there's so much you could be planning to add to your glass?
It's also not all about your glass. Look around at the people in your business, in your family, and in your community at this festive time of year. Whose glass could use a few drops added to it--tangible things like gifts or all-important investments of support including promotions, new opportunities, and mentorship?
Without getting too metaphorical, let me suggest that pouring out some of your own glass into other people's glasses will actually have the net effect of refilling both theirs--and your own. Real support, given with your whole heart, makes it rain into another's glass.
It might be nice to have all the money, power, success, and opportunity in the world. Most of us fall a little short of that full-to-the-brim status. Fortunately, we have the ability to use every single drop in our glass, knowing we have many ways to refill it. Think about that, this time of year especially, and pour out some of what's in your own glass into someone else's.
Then, you'll be able to toast the many people in your world who believe in you and whom you have inspired, helped, and moved forward to succeed and be even greater than yourself.