The half-full or half-empty trope provides us with a measure of optimism vs pessimism. In my speaking and writing, I try to upend cliches – for an “unperspective” – and attempt to take this glass story on a different journey. I have heard some interesting responses and memes that address the glass – for example, “just keep filling my glass, please” to “get a bigger/smaller glass” to “why are we limited to one glass?”. My unperspective is simply this – my glass is always full. By doing that, I load the trope with positivity and it is now only about optimism.
The challenge for us humans is to face the daily negativity and pessimism that creeps in regularly and unexpected moments. It’s often easier to wallow in the dark than it is to pay a little attention and find the positive in our immediate surroundings. Mostly, we behave in a negative and pessimistic way and we tend to fall into it so easily.
When we drive, our view is generally just 10 feet ahead. We are concerned only about the driver/s in front of us and how they are annoying us. When I wrote Never Iron When You Are Naked, I proposed a new game for driving called “Idiot Vacuums”. It was originally intended for commuting, however, I have found it to be effective in any situation where there is a lot of traffic – pretty much a normal situation in our modern must-drive world.
The basics of this game are to keep score of the number of “Idiots” (read, drivers other than yourself) you can “capture”. When driving in a long line of cars, back up to leave more than one car’s length between you and the car in front. This gap is known as the “Idiot Vacuum”, because it will appear attractive to “Idiots” and they will be sucked right into that gap. You get 2 points for every Idiot captured and lose 1 point if they leave before you capture the next Idiot. It’s an honor system and requires you to be honest with yourself first, and then compare with your fellow commuters when you do arrive at work.
What I did not expect was that readers would take this game on. As we’ve moved to more at-home remote work, the game may have to be tweaked. And, of course, there should also be some consideration to factor distance traveled in the equation. When some of my readers were commuting, they told me they had begun to play “Idiot Vacuums”, and even started a competition with their coworkers. The universal response was that it changed their pessimism to positivity. They were able to see the challenges of drive time in a new light. Their days were a little brighter.
This is a lesson, I believe, for all of our pessimism, for all our negative moments. By stopping, breathing, and stepping out of the dark moment, we can connect to something that may be a distraction. When that distraction is playful or joyful, optimism reigns. Find the silliness, the play, the joy in our immediate world, and step up to lighter days.