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Is The Glass Half Full?

Written by: Craig Twombly
Published: May 2012

Being the father of a currently ten year old girl has taught me many lessons in life. We all become conditioned to what surrounds us. As we wake up and head off to work many of us think about the challenges that await us and we begin to form thoughts of what may be ahead based on our experiences. So it begs the age old question, "Is the glass half full or half empty?" Looking at the glass half full or positive thinking has been scientifically linked to better health and happiness. Conversely looking at the glass half empty has been proven to lead to depression and a higher level of stress. When I reflect back on my career and life, those that viewed the glass half full have always left a large impression and effect in my life.

My daughter was born in February 2002. As I look back there were so many thoughts that ran through my mind. She was born a few months after September 11th and I remember as I'm sure most parents have contemplated what type of world I was bringing my daughter into. To compound the issue, she was born premature with challenges that are associated with premature babies. After a great deal of self-induced stress, I remember sitting down and having a wonderful conversation with my parents. They reassured me everything would be fine and talked about staying positive. Everything worked itself out and time moved on. To this day I enjoy every minute of being a parent.

During my daughter's 1st grade year, I was contacted by the school. There was a problem with her hearing test and they wanted to discuss the issue. During the normal school hearing tests, she had failed in one ear and just passed in the other. I remember feeling the whole world on my shoulders and wondering if it was related to being born premature or if it was far worse. Over the next several weeks, we met with specialists and had many tests done on hearing. After an MRI, we met with an Ears, Nose and Throat Specialist to discuss what he saw. He explained that she was deaf in one ear and some limited hearing in the other. He went on to explain that there was nothing that could be done and she was born with the loss. He offered information as to what to do, but suggested we observe and make necessary modifications for her at school. As we left the office I was feeling very sad with all of life's challenges and that my daughter had this burden to cope with. I had been holding her hand as we left the office and as we moved closer to the car she squeezed my hand and said, "Its ok dad, I can still hear you." I had been looking at the glass as half empty and my six-year old daughter looked at the same glass as being half full.

It might be fair to say that we all look or want to look at the glass as half full or carry on with positive thinking. It is also worth noting that no matter what side you look from, you cannot ignore those periods or challenges that come at you. Our views and outlooks are often shaped by the situations and experiences in our lives. Shifting to a more half full or positive approach, you can approach the negative situations with the thought that no matter what the best will happen. We all have a moment where we talk ourselves into a positive thinking mode or a negative thinking mode. If you want to be more positive you can! We all can tell a story that was or is difficult to handle. Like with most things in life, it takes work on the individual's part to notice and understand where they are at.

What does it look like? There are three different categories that defeat positive thinking or the half full approach in the workplace:

Defeater: Inside the workplace one can observe this person as being the person who finds the bad in a project situation or experience. He or she can only explain why it will not work and how it did not work in the past. There is often a flowing movement in the conversation as to why this person or that person will not help in the project and the defeater is bound into mediocrity by his or her inability to lead. This form also takes on the approach of, "I need to wait for approval to act or I could get in trouble."

Personal: Whether at work or personal life, everything is their fault when something bad occurs or somehow they have done something to cause it. You may have heard a person say, "So and so did not call back, therefore, she must not like me", which makes it personal and attracts half empty thinking. I started to blame myself for my daughter's hearing loss when we first heard the news.

Crisis: This is when you expect the worse no matter what has or will happen. "I woke up late so the rest of the day will be miserable." Or, "My co-worker has called out so that means it will be a long and miserable day." When I look back to my daughter's news of hearing loss, I thought she was destined for a life of failure and struggles.

What do I do to change?
How do we change our negative thinking into positive thinking? Like most things it is part awareness and part plain hard work. To change we need to change behaviors.

Next month we will explore different methods to change and steps to make change happen. Until then, I welcome your thoughts regarding the subject and look forward to your feedback.

Craig Twombly

Craig Twombly

Craig is the primary facilitator at Priority Learning, he is responsible for conducting an array of leadership series offered and consulting assignments from communications to team development in organizations ranging from the service industries to finance, manufacturing and more. Having extensive experience at balancing the business needs with the wants and desires of people are Craig's strongest assets.