It’s okay if the water is where it is at.
It’s a common assumption that people who demonstrate a more pessimistic viewpoint – “the glass is half empty” – tend to exhibit more negative emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, and stress. Research studies have supported this theory that negative statements have an adverse effect on emotions. In other words, the more negative statements a person says or thinks, the more likely that person is to feel badly. However, people also then assume is that it is necessary to shift thinking to “glass half full” and to think positively all of the time, a feat that can also be quite challenging and in some cases, too big of a jump for people to achieve. In real life, we all deal with difficult situations, tough moments, and trials. What people may not know is that it’s actually okay, and can be a good thing, to think more realistically. People tend to respond just as well, if not better, to an acceptance approach – “the water is where it is at” in the glass.
For instance, it may be better to change the thought or view “My day today was terrible. Nothing went right.” with something more like “My day had some difficult moments, but there were other parts that I enjoyed,” rather than “I really had a great day,” or “I loved parts of my day.” Or, for example, replacing “I’m going to fail” with “this might be challenging for me” or “I may not achieve my highest goal, but I can still do well,” rather than “I will ace this,” or “It will be great!” The middle statements are much more neutral or realistic than the positive statements, yet at the same time, they offer some hope and are less pessimistic or negatively focused.
Because life really isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, thinking more realistically seems more achievable to most people and also provides an opportunity to build on better thinking and reduce negativity, which is the real problem when considering negative emotions. So the next time you are faced with a difficult moment or thought, try examining where the water actually is, rather than assuming it is too low or pushing yourself to think that it is much higher. The water you have may be just the right amount.