It's my opinion that "is this glass half-full or half-empty?" is a lousy metaphorical question to use when determining an individual's penchant toward optimism or pessimism. The query requires a binary answer that doesn't allow for context or circumstance.
For example, one might look at a glass of water and think:
As I gaze upon yonder tumbler, I am reminded of the infinite possibilities offered to me by the Universe every day and of what a lucky individual I am to be alive. But it is nearly midnight and if I drink too much water, I'll have to get up in the middle of the night and pee.
I should also consider that the world is hovering on the brink of a global water crisis and remind myself that the tap I take for granted today may one day produce nothing but a rusty squeal and a lump of despair in my parched throat. If I allow that glass to go to waste tonight, I'll feel mighty guilty when the spigots run dry. Hmmm, perhaps I should drink half the water...but if I leave the other half behind, mosquitoes will breed in it and we'll have malaria for Christmas.
In the example above, what label would we apply to a person who drinks some of the water, pours the rest into a houseplant and then retires to bed, where their fitful sleep is disturbed by dreams of drought and interrupted by the need to urinate? Are they a pessimist? An optimist? Environmentalist? Middle-aged?
We will need more data before we make a conclusion regarding their outlook on life.
Let's ask another question:
Is your bubble half-balanced or half-unbalanced?
Obviously, that is an absurd question, since anything that is 'half-balanced' is, by definition, unbalanced.
A better question might be: "Are you crazy or what?", but for purposes to be explained later, let's stick with the question of balance.
On the dark end, we have the craziness born of despair, bleakness, anger and hatred. A person on this end might collect automatic weapons, ski masks, political manifestos and home-made snuff films. They might belong to a fringe religious cult. Their dungeon doesn't have a "safety word".
On the other end , we have the starry-eyed and dangerous delusion that "all you need is love". That might sound like a harmless philosophy until we look at four historical figures who have spread that message: Jesus Christ, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, namely.
Of those four, all suffered unfavorable legal judgment(s), all were victims of assault, two were stabbed at least once, two were murdered, one was crucified and one loved Yoko Ono.
A person who lives at this end might be identified by their collection of magic crystals, political manifestos and opportunistic con artists posing as leaders of fringe religious cults. Their Dungeons and Dragons character rides a magical unicorn named 'Patchouli'.
Words are confusing and using them can lead to mistakes. Complex ideas are best explained by slipshod charts, alliterative slogans and the gratuitous misuse of the word 'paradigm'.
With that in mind, allow me to introduce the New Paradigm of P-Harmonic Positioning:
Here's the chart. It's a simple combination of the "glass" and "bubble" questions asked above; x represents the balance of one's bubble, y represents the fullness of one's glass:
Here are some examples of words that begin with 'P' and where they might be positioned on this chart:
In the lower left corner we have "Postal". This is where the people of the sort who brought us Columbine and, more recently, Mumbai, are positioned. They have no hope and even less balance. What little power they have is invariably used destructively.
(Note: War Profiteers would be in the upper left corner, their glasses are full, but their power is still of the destructive sort)
In the middle we have "Pragmatic". This position posits : "I understand that the problems of the world are very serious but I can't do a lot about it. I won't admit it publicly, but I'm secretly glad that most of the bad news happens somewhere else."
In the upper right, we have "Prey". This is a perilous realm of good intentions and positioning oneself here is a risky, yet at times necessary, proposition. People positioned here make positive changes in the world around them. They also make excellent hostages.
What's your position?