Is the glass half empty or half full?

A very popular question intended to distinguish between Pessimism (who sees the glass half empty) and Optimism (who sees the glass half full).

However, there are actually four more gentlemen gathered around the glass, who are usually not mentioned, even though their points of view are very common and extremely important to understand.

Let me introduce you to these four gentlemen, and let’s see what they have to say about the glass in front of them.


While Optimism and Pessimism can’t see eye to eye because they are looking at different aspects of the glass, Realism is able to appreciate what each of his friends are seeing: he sees the entire glass, both the full half and the empty half.

His attitude isn’t skewed by half the story because he is able to see the full story, both its positive and negative dimensions. He is able to appreciate what there is, as well as to admit what is lacking. He can choose to feel contented with what there is, or aspire to fill the whole glass.

Optimism, Pessimism and Realism share a very important characteristic: they are all seeing the glass for what it is. What distinguishes them from each other is what they choose to focus on.

And this is what differentiates them from their other three friends…

Wishful Thinking

While Optimism, Pessimism and Realism are contemplating the contents of the glass, Wishful Thinking is jumping with joy that the glass is full!

It’s not full, but that’s how Wishful Thinking apparently “sees” it. Wishful Thinking doesn’t care much about reality. Sometimes reality is an inconvenience for human happiness, so he chooses to create the “reality” that makes him happy. In this case, it’s a full glass.

But this doesn’t change the fact that the glass is only half full, no matter how hard Wishful Thinking wants it to be full. From a distance, Wishful Thinking can remain contented that the glass is full, but he will be unpleasantly disappointed when he tries to drink from the glass.

Limiting Belief

Our friend, Limiting Belief, is sitting uncomfortably with his friends. He can’t seem to understand how they can see any water in the glass when it’s obviously empty! Obvious only to him. Obviously.

Limiting Belief doesn’t focus on the negative. He denies the positive. He dismisses the existence of a reality and, therefore, cannot come to appreciate it or make use of it. Limiting Belief could very well die of thirst by the side of a river, simply because he denies that the river exists!


While all his friends are facing the glass, Evasion is looking the other way. He’s fearful of what he might discover about the glass. Fearful of what to expect. Fearful of what the content of the glass would mean to him. Fearful of what the content of the glass would require him to do.

He, therefore, chooses not to look at the glass, or listen to what others have to say about it. “Ignorance is bliss,” and by remaining ignorant he doesn’t have to worry whether the glass is empty, half full or full. He believes he can go through life happily unaware of what the glass has to offer, and by directing his attention elsewhere.

While he doesn’t like to admit this, but Evasion sometimes feels compelled to find out what’s in the glass, and he chooses to drown those feelings with distractions. Alcohol is always a convenient choice, though he has sometimes tried out drugs to numb the feeling of curiosity and irritating consciousness.

The Six Men

I’m sure we can all relate to one of these men in different situations in our lives. We are sometimes optimistic, other times we are pessimistic. We sometimes face reality and sometimes choose to ignore it. We sometimes fool ourselves by inventing a new “reality” that brings us happiness, or a “reality” that confines us to what we feel comfortable with, while ignoring all the opportunities that exist for us, and the potential within us.

But for us to achieve happiness, it’s important that we:

  • Accept reality for what it is
  • Appreciate what we have
  • Use what we have to gain what we want

We need to befriend Realism, while being acquainted with his friends, and being aware of what influence they can have on our lives.

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!