Half Full or Half Empty?

by Jeremy Reynalds, Ph.D.

Founder and CEO

Joy Junction Inc.

The sun’s shining and you feel great. The job interview you had yesterday for your dream job with a much needed pay increase seemed to go well – much better than you had ever thought – and you feel on top of the world.

You decide to celebrate with a venti super charged caramel macchiato. A half hour later and about five bucks lighter in your wallet, you settle down to enjoy your beverage. Two or three sips into your beverage, a friend you hadn’t see for a while spots you and asks if he can sit down.

You agree, excited to tell someone your good news. You begin by saying how good the weather is, expecting him to respond with a similarly innocuous comment. To your surprise he says, “I guess. but you never know when it’s going to change. We’ve had lousy weather, and the likelihood is that it’s going to be like that again soon. You don’t have an umbrella with you?”

Surprised you try a different subject, convinced that if your (maybe soon to be former) friend doesn’t appreciate the weather, he has to be glad with you for your job interview. You verbally bubble for the next couple of moments, looking for any sign of a positive reaction from your friend.

He says, “That’s good-I guess, but the other day I was talking to someone who used to work there. They hated it, and said they’d also heard rumors that the company’s supposed to be in trouble.”

He continued on and on with his ominous predictions.

By now the attraction of what just a few minutes ago had been a celebration beverage has lost its appeal, and after looking at your Outlook calendar you hastily excuse yourself- saying you have an appointment you’d forgotten about.

He says, “Bye. Good seeing you. Let’s do this again.”

All the negativity has changed your day-in less than an hour. Ever experienced that? It seems your naysaying friend would have been totally unable to recognize even a glass that was totally full. What a difficult-and depressing-way to live. 

I wondered what our Joy Junction guests thought about this, so we posed them this question. “A bad day can be changed in a moment by an encouraging comment from someone. Can you think of an instance when an encouraging comment from Joy Junction staff, or perhaps another guest, made a difference for you when you were going through a hard time? Are you an encourager, or someone who usually sees the glass as being half empty or half full?”

One guest said she really appreciates our kitchen manager. “She always has an uplifting word when she senses your having a bad day. Her smile and words of wisdom brighten up my day. I think that I’m a cheerful person. I try to give words of encouragement (and) see the cup half full.”

One woman said that during her stay at Joy Junction, she has experienced some difficult days, but happily she has been encouraged along the way by both staff and other guests with a smile, a word, a snack or a note.

She added, “There have been times in my life when I see the glass half empty, and I now realize what I have come to realize that it was always that way because I did not have a close relationship with God. At this point in my life I am an encourager and I see the glass half full.

Another woman, a program participant volunteering in our laundry room, finished that day’s volunteer duties frustrated and with a headache.

As she was leaving, someone thanked her and said how much they appreciated what she did for them.

She said, “It made me feel happy, and I don’t think of it as work I remind myself that people depend on us as a team in the laundry room. I am an encourager, and try to encourage our team to pray as we do our duties and understand how important it is to get the laundry done.”

Someone else said there have been a few times when her day was uplifted by a comment a staff member made that really made me smile and cry.

One comment she said meant a lot to her “because I had a life where I would’ve never thought anyone would say something nice about me … His comment made my day better.’

One person recalled a special encourager.

This person always told me never put myself down … This person always has my back.”

This individual added, “I am an encourager to those who talk to me about their day by putting a smile on their face. I tell them with encouraging words to take one step at a time to help them throughout their day. I see the glass half full when I am able to talk to someone, and make their day an amazing and a successful one.”

Jacob said while he “hates to say this,” he realizes that he still tend to look at the glass as half full, even though knowing that things go so much better for him and those around him when he looks at the glass as half full.

Shannon said she sees the glass as being half full and is always encouraged daily when she wakes up.

She added, “ Everyone here encourages me even when they are being negative. I realize that I am not where they are, and give God all the glory for bringing me so far.”

Miguel said that during his stay at Joy Junction he has encouraged others and staff have been very kind, polite and encouraging to him.

“My stay here has made me stronger and a better person. It has been good for me here.’

Another person said she has been helped greatly by our case manager. Whether it is just letting her vent, giving me advice or just encouragement. “She always manages to make me feel better when I am down and out, (because) I can be a glass half empty type of person … “

Fernando said the people he talks to are usually encouraging him to read the Bible regularly and do well. He feels he can talk to numerous Joy Junction staff when things aren’t going quite as well as he wants

“Most of the people here are inspiring, and uplifting me to do good and to never give up.”

Kate said when she first arrived at Joy Junction, she was both scared and angry.

However, she was blessed with these simple words. “Welcome to Joy Junction.”

Joy Junction Christ in Power life recovery program instructor Marcos Atwood shared a touching example. He said one morning just after arriving at work a four year old little girl walked into his office and began to speak to him about the cross on his wall.

Marcos said her description wasn’t very long, but her words were “priceless. She ministered to me by describing how Jesus conquered the world, and the little things he uses to show His Love. I try to use every situation in my life to encourage me to stay focus on the Lord, and to encourage others how much our Father loves us.”

Great words, Marcos. So what are you? An encourager who people love to meet because they know how you make them feel, or someone they avoid because for you the glass isn’t just half empty-it’s bone dry.