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When we’re going through difficult or frustrating times, there is the old saying of ‘Things could be worse’ to make us feel a bit better.
For most, if not all people, that is the case. Things could always be worse. (OK, there may exist a person who compared to everybody else on the planet is faring the worst, but even that individual could, in theory, find solace in the words above.)
It’s similar to those who espouse to either the glass-half-full or glass-half-empty mentality. It depends on how you look at it, and in any one person this could change from day to day without there being any noticeable change in the actual circumstances.
Yet, the argument against the glass-half-full/things-could-be-worse outlook is that, in certain cases, it promotes mediocrity, curbs development.
For example, in countries that have had a less-than-glorious past, such as my native Ireland and here in Colombia, the desire to continue to try and improve things isn’t always apparent, be it at a government or individual level. One reason (of many), perhaps, why the oft-criticised public transport system in Bogotá splutters unspectacularly along (the Transmilenio is one thing, but many of the SITP bus routes are in disarray — let’s not go there, again). There are, needless to say, other examples that we won’t get into here.
Those in the glass-half-empty brigade are often accused of being negative, pessimistic. That might be so, yet when it comes with a desire to make things better, then it can be seen as something positive.
The key, as is usually the case in such matters, is finding the balance. For sure, it’s pointless to strive for what amount to unattainable goals — once we know that is the case that is — or get worked up about things that we can’t fix or undo.
It’s generally better to focus on the positives of our current situation whilst, should we so wish, look for improvement where we feel it’s needed. Otherwise, we’ll never even be close to feeling content, no matter what the situation.
That being said, there is a danger of underachievement if we always think ‘things could be worse’, especially so when in reality making our lot better doesn’t require an awful amount of effort nor drastic change.
It’s really a quest for contentment and fulfilment; feeling satisfied doing what we at least think we should be doing.
This is what keeps us going. And for many it’s never ending. Once one goal is ‘netted’ the search for another begins.
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