Is your glass half-full or half empty? Psychology and the Law of Attraction
Updated: Feb 7
"A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes."
"Every thought we think is creating our future."
We are all familiar with the proverbial phrase, "Is the glass half empty or half full?" Generally speaking, the former is associated with a pessimistic outlook, while the latter indicates an optimistic attitude. This question is often asked to determine an individual's worldview.
As a child, every glass my parents owned was bone dry. I felt as if we were camels wandering the Sahara Desert, in desperate search of an Oasis. I grew up in the PESSIMIST house, filled with my mom’s negativity, doom and gloom. Psychologically speaking, a negativity bias had a powerful (and dry) grip on our household.
A negativity bias both focuses and dwells on negative stimuli more readily than positive stimuli. As Kendra Cherry, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist believes, people tend to:
· Remember traumatic experiences better than positive ones
· Recall insults better than praise
· React more strongly to negative stimuli
· Think about negative things more frequently than positive ones
· Respond more strongly to negative events than to equally positive ones
Research has established that a negative bias is powerfully tied to our emotional and physical well-being (or lack of). Emotionally, it is associated with anxiety, depression, poor decision making skills, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and chronic stress. Likewise, prolonged chronic stress is linked to muscle tension, migraines, respiratory concerns, long-term problems for the heart and blood vessels, increased cholesterol, gastrointestinal disorders, and elevated levels of stress hormones and blood pressure. In other words, it can literally kill you.
Those lucky individuals who view life as a glass half-filled, possess a positive bias. Positive bias refers to the human tendency to overestimate the possibility of positive (good) things happening in life. While negative bias is harmful to our health, positive bias is beneficial to our well-being; lowering blood pressure, blood sugar, maintaining a healthy weight, and lessening heart disease. Dr. Becca Levy (Yale Public School of Health) maintains positive bias enhances belief in one’s abilities, decreases perceived stress, fosters healthful behaviors, and lowers C-reactive protein levels, a marker of stress-related inflammatory diseases.
So how do we turn negative bias into positive bias? Is it even possible? Yes, but like anything else, it requires practice, practice, and more practice. Psychology gives us several tools to achieve this, including:
· Making a conscious effort to focus on the affirming aspects of each day. Become aware of the positives in both the greater world and in yourself.
· Focus on these moments for at least 20-30 seconds. Research maintains that by lengthening the time we appreciate positive instances, we allow more neurons to fire and wire together in response to the stimulus.
· Utilizing self-help practices such as meditation, journaling, visualization, etc. Numerous meditation practitioners suggest identifying emotions we are currently feeling; replacing any negative ones by visualizing positivity spreading throughout our bodies.
Indeed, research suggests that mindfulness training may indeed alter brain circuits, promoting positive reactions.
Other spiritually/metaphysically oriented individuals practice the Law of Attraction (LOA), defined by Wikithought as “The belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person’s life. The belief is based on the ideas that people and their thoughts are comprised of pure energy. A process of like energy attracting like energy exists through which a person can improve their health, wealth, and personal relationships.”
LOA is commonly referred to as “The Law of the Universe.” It is similar to the Universal Law of Cause and Effect, which states: “For every effect there is a definite cause, likewise for every cause, there is a definite effect.”
Personally and professionally, I am a metaphysician. Yet, because I was raised in the “half-dry glass-negative family philosophy", I believed LOA to be a pseudoscience at best. Primarily, I considered it a corny, “woo-woo” concept, embraced by those with delusions of happiness. I was turned off by the entire concept.
Very, very gradually, however, my thought process shifted. I slowly began to understand that humans, just as the entire Universe, are comprised of energy. Essentially, we are energetic beings surrounded by electrical fields of varying wave patterns. Our thoughts are pure energy.
The Huffington-Post published a fascinating article by Peter Baksa on this very topic, entitled, “Can Our Brain Waves Affect Our Physical Reality”?
The answer is a resounding YES! As Baksa explains:
“Being an electric field, all those overlying electric wave patterns that comprise your brain waves are governed by the same equations governing the electromagnetic spectrum, light, particles and everything else in the universe. The light seen coming from a star and the energy of your mind are one and the same type. Your thoughts are formed in this electric field. The higher the frequency of our thought/brain wave, the higher our consciousness. The level of our consciousness is what makes our reality what it is and what it will continue to be. Your thoughts are formed in this electric field. As you read this article, the thoughts you are thinking of, the words your mind is processing, are all electrical impulses that can be measured if you had a few wires hooked up between your head and a machine. So thoughts are energy, the same as everything else”.
Energy attracts like energy. If we are stressed out, resentful, angry, or just generally mired in negativity, we are sending out low vibrating, negative energy. Likewise, if we are joyful, content, peaceful, and/or living in the moment, we are emitting higher vibrating, positive energy. The Universe always responds to the type of vibration we create. It ‘matches’ and ‘returns’ whatever energetic frequency we send it.
There is good news, however, for those of us “half-empty’s.” By focusing on the positives in our lives, we can, drop by drop, fill our glasses. Raising our vibrational frequency can make a difference in our approach to life. It will certainly make us happier, and help us become a better version of ourselves.
As Shakespeare once stated:
"There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so."