Yesterday, I watched comedian Jim Jeffries’ new stand-up special on Netflix called Freedumb. Toward the end, in between the laughable moments, he got personal and mentioned his fairly severe depression and the experience of having a doctor tell him he was probably on the autism spectrum.

It’s wonderful when someone who has access to a spotlight and an audience chooses to talk about topics like these. It helps reduce the associated stigma and lets others know they’re not alone.

What he shared next about himself was more light-hearted yet still had the potential to help others. I found myself shouting “Yes! Exactly!” at the screen.

He said that as a self-proclaimed pessimist people are always reminding him that his view of the world is “glass half empty” rather than “glass half full” and he believes the glass half full people have it wrong:

“I’ve never met a successful glass half full c***. You’ll never be anything if you think the glass is half full. If you want to get ahead in this world, walk into the room and go ‘Why isn’t that fucking glass full?”

I couldn’t agree more.

Although I’m less colorful about it.

I’ve spoken before about something that I call Negativity Wisdom. At its core, Negativity Wisdom is effectively utilizing the inherent, useful negativity that each of us possesses.

I think his approach to the glass half full/empty analogy reflects this idea. Positive people would blissfully go on with their sub par glass of water, oblivious to any other options. A negative approach type could take it one step further and identify the problem or the potential for something better, then grab a water pitcher.

 

Glass Half Empty-Full
I want a full glass of water, damn it!

 

The positivity gurus would have us believe that all negativity is bad and should be replaced with rainbows and glitter. As much as I like rainbows and glitter, throwing positivity at everything is not the best approach.

We have negativity in our lives for a reason. Solving problems, for example (sometimes identifying problems like in a glass half full situation) is difficult enough without first contemplating all the possibilities and asking the right questions. That typically requires negative thinking.

Negativity isn’t the big bad wolf it’s made out to be. It’s all about how we choose to use it. Do we solve problems or incessantly complain about them without purpose? Do we approach a situation with a healthy amount of skepticism or let our negative thoughts turn into fears that get the best of us?

Learning to gauge whether your negativity is serving a useful purpose is the first step in developing what I call Negativity Wisdom. Read more here about the concept.