Optimism and Gratitude: Seeing the Glass Half Full

Nov 20, 2018
Optimism and Gratitude: Seeing the Glass Half Full


Seeing the glass half full is the optimism many are born with, but developing this skill could mean weathering the impending storm.

I feel pulled to talk about gratitude and optimism this Thanksgiving week here in the US more than ever, because of the general climate we find ourselves in on a daily basis. Even if we avoid most of the news, Netflix, and social media, we are still subject to a kind of darkness permeating the air. The energy can feel heavy and oppressive.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There is a way to see the glass half full without being Pollyannaish. We also don’t have to bury our heads in the sand in order to “stay positive.” That can be dangerous in any climate. There is a way of keeping abreast of world events while not feeding into sensationalism, violence, hate, and social division.

We can see polarization everywhere in the world. Everyone feels their side is the right side. We interpret anything different than us as other. Other is often dehumanized as criminal, thug, or invader. There is a general lack of respect for one another. We see things becoming very politicized with very little capability of respectfully agreeing to disagree. Everything is tainted with our opinions.

History has never shown us anything different. The pendulum swings far in both directions. Things can become extreme and human rights violations must always be held in check. The disregard for justice must be called out.

When things get this blatantly ugly, we must have gratitude for it coming to the light.

Hate groups are not lurking in the shadows but becoming visible. The rise of Nazi Germany, for example, can be seen as a necessary step in seeing what had been repressed for a very long time.

It sounds like I am seeing the glass half empty, but I see all of this as the shadow emerging in ways we could not see before. It incites action and interaction. It compels people to do something. When we see the glass half full, we see why the dark side is so necessary to bring about free will.

When we feel something is not going right, we can look at it as an incentive to make a change, where there was once complacency. Failure in our own eyes can spur us on to do better and try again. Acceptance of what is around us as part of our own doing is to see that we can make changes in our lives.  

Without our deep pain in the darkest hour, we cannot surrender to something higher.

To hit rock bottom may be our only way of realizing we have a choice to go up. Usually, it has to get really bad for us to do something about it.

Seeing the glass half full means we can accept all that is happening as part of the essential whole. We see things as a result of our own lethargy and begin to act. No matter how horribly we have been victim to a system, our pain will spur on revolution.

Our darkest hour is the precise moment we choose something different for ourselves. That is when the glass is very full even though it looks very empty.

When I find myself able to choose to see and experience the world around me as a gift, even the sorry state of affairs as I see it, it means I am exerting choice. In this context, to see the good in things does not mean to remain positive at all costs.  This has been the shadow side of much of the New Age movement.

Seeing the benefit of our darkness is probably a better way to put it.

Gratitude allows us to accept what is, feel it, grieve it, and move from there. It means we put our likes and dislikes of what “should” be aside, and see things for what they are. This is how we keep projection in check. It is only then that we can take responsibility for ourselves and act from conscience.

Acceptance is how we find optimism in the worst scenarios.

When we see the glass half full, we allow hope of something better for ourselves and thus begin to create a new world. We are incited to actually create the world we live in, instead of blaming it on someone else. Our complacency has a part in all of this; whether it is complacency in the form of silence, lack of inclusion, the admittance of gross systemic inequality, the inability to care for all, or the recognition that we are taking part in the destruction of the planet.

Division and polarization on the macro come from the divisions deep within ourselves on the micro. It is the inability to see other as oneself.  Because we are not whole, we project the hologram of those fractures all around us. It is projection and blame in three-D before our eyes. It absolves us of being responsible for the conditions we see around us. It places us in dominion over others. It emboldens our insecurity. We become justified in feeling cheated, wronged, or not represented. This is the glass half empty.

When we see the glass half full, we realize there is a need for acceptance and that action must first and foremost be within ourselves. We are in gratitude for being able to see that need. We are grateful to finally see what has been hidden in the shadows both individually and collectively. For example, we become grateful to see rampant sexual abuse and misogyny outed for what it is.

We change social norms when it is on our radars.

“So let it all come out of the woodwork, Dear Lord, every last bit of hatred, abuse and discrimination, even though it may seem like everything is coming apart at the seams. Let us see the blatant truth of our actions and our fractured selves. By our own free will, let us choose to see this glass half full or near damn full, because of the motivation and change it creates in us.  

In gratitude for the mess we have created.”



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