Half Empty or Half Full? How Perspective Can be used as a Powerful Tool

November 22, 2021

by Rivvy Neshama

Author of Recipes for a Sacred Life Rivvy Neshama shares this powerful extract from her book with our Kindred Spirit readers.

My sister Susan is new to Facebook. She’s a big executive who works very hard and never has time for such things. But one day, not too long ago, she went on Facebook, joining the nearly three billion people who preceded her, and, like the rest of us, was slyly drawn in.

At first, she was just a blank avatar who did some likes and shares. Next, she posted some photos from her smart phone—and a profile picture of her gorgeous self. And then she found the “WHO YOU ARE” tests. You know, the ones that ask which colour or animal or number you like best and then tell you Who You Are (or Who You Were in a previous life!).

I rarely if ever do those tests. Partly because that would force me to face how much time I waste with stupid things on Facebook. I’m also a little nervous that I’ll get bad results. While Susan always gets and posts things like “Your heart is red. You are full of passion, kindness, and love,” I might get “Your heart is dark. You need to think more of others.”

Well, yesterday she called me and we were chatting away, and then she went for the kill. “I did another one of those tests on Facebook,” she said. “And they told me that I’m a very rare person. I see the glass both half empty and half full!”

Wow, I said. I didn’t even know that was an option. I thought the world was divided into two: those who see half empty and those who see half full. And I feared I often fall into the former. Sure, there are days when I feel such joy and gratitude that the glass feels brimming. But lately, when several friends have died or are seriously ill, when so many young people feel lost, refugees are drowning, the whole planet seems endangered, and I nonetheless feel overwhelmed by my own small problems . . . I take the half-full days as a blessing.

Then I thought about it some more and one of those bulbs went off over my head. “Susan!” I exclaimed. “That’s it! That’s the answer! The glass is both half empty and half full! And we need to see both!”

Yes, some of my closest friends have died, and I fear losing others. But my love and appreciation for each of them grows stronger. And so does my realization that we are all dying, which can lead to depression or a greater love of each day or both: half empty, half full.

Yes, I know young people who have lost their way and are deeply suffering. But this opens my heart. And if I reach out to help, there is the joy of connection, and there is hope. Half empty, half full.

Yes, so many people and countries are in crisis, and some lost souls are shooting others for confusing reasons, and politics have become a gladiator sport, and our beloved Earth is in trouble.

But I just saw a documentary of a man’s love for his dying dog and the dog’s love for the man.

And the California condor is returning, along with the brown bear, grey wolf, and flying squirrel.

And my grandsons and I spent an hour on YouTube watching straight and gay folks make surprise, over-the-top marriage proposals in public while their friends and family danced in the streets like some Debbie Reynolds/Gene Kelly movie from the ’50s, and it all made me cry.

And there are daily acts of kindness. And the first flowers of spring. And the warmth we feel when we smile at a stranger and they smile back.

And, as Hemmingway wrote, the sun also rises. It’s a quote from the Bible, Ecclesiastes. “The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose.”

So yes. The glass is both. Half empty and half full. Always was. Always will be. It was a trick question.

I was going to list the things I do that make my life feel sacred, things like painting, tutoring, and playing the guitar. Or watching the moonrise and speaking Spanish in Mexico. Things that lift me out of my self, into connection, and often into a state of joy.

Then I realized that this would be my list, and what makes them sacred is doing things that I love. So your list might be, well, whatever connects you with your passion and love. And when you do what you love, you feel love. It’s that simple.

About the author:

Rivvy Neshama is an American author who lives in Colorado with her partner, British author John Wilcockson. This story is an excerpt from her award-winning book, Recipes for a Sacred Life: True Stories and a Few Miracles. Neshama’s true tales, a memoir of sorts, are filled with life, love, and timeless wisdom. They ground us and they lift us up. They make us laugh and they make us cry. And most of all, they connect us more deeply with the grace and meaning of our lives.

‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a guide to happiness? Recipes for a Sacred Life is the closest thing I’ve found.’Melissa Sorrells, First for Women magazine


Recipes for a Sacred Life is filled with delights. It will inspire and uplift your heart.” —Tara Brach, international meditation teacher and author of Radical Acceptance  


For more on Rivvy, visit her website, www.rivvyneshama.com , or follow her on Instagram @rivvyneshama.

Posted by: Gwen Jones