I know you have read all about this concept already. You know what it means – the idea that it really is up to you to look at a glass of water filled to the half way mark, and decide whether it is “half empty” (the pessimist) or “half full” (the optimist). We also know there is a ton of empirical research showing that the optimists are more productive, and happier. Even at younger ages, students with higher levels of optimism score better on scholastic tests. What I want to discuss this week is how social media is dangerously compromising the power of looking at the events of your life as more half emtpy.
I am a fan of social media and technology in general. It is here to stay and has enabled an unprecedented about learning and human connections that is generally good. But it is becoming too easy to whine and complain about things. It used to be that in order to do that, you were faced with the prospect of someone having to listen to you on the phone or in person. This can be hard as it requires a certain amount of courage internally as it potentially could negatively impact the party listening to your whining. Social media has eliminated this check and balance. Anyone can tweet about anything and everything that is wrong about their day all day long or post on facebook about how something terribly unfair has found its way into your day. Because there is no one physically on the other end, it is easier to vent. What then happens is that your whining attracts others “half empty” folks and that usually results in you feeling falsely good as you get sympathizers on your side. This has now created a vicous cycle of whining getting more fuel from friends because it is just easier to do so than it would be to challenge someone about their perspective. I am a realist too and I get that one benefit of family and friends is that they are people you can commiserate with, and sometimes it just feels good to get stuff off your chest. So just be careful to not let “sometimes” turn into “always.”
This week, take some time to monitor your social media. See who is whining and who seems to want to share good things. You are likely to have a better day, a happier day, and a more productive day by choosing messages and messengers who view their day with a half full perspective. It is contagious…just as the alternative is.