When I was younger, I thought I was clever by answering this question with “it is a half a glass of water.” Turns out, it may have answered the question in a different way, but still gave information on how I saw the world.

How we see the glass of water can determine how well we will weather in a storm.

What predicts well-being and the ability to advance to where we want to go lies in how permanent or temporary we see bad and good events, how much does failure and success overflow into areas of life, and who do we give credit to when things go crappy or excellent.

Let’s start with permanence. What creates resilient and optimism is viewing negative events as temporary and seeing positive events as permanent like personality or characteristics. People, who view negative events as long-lasting and successes as temporary or situational, tend to have a harder time when life gets difficult.

Pervasiveness is a measure of how many areas of life are affected by success and failure. Failures that are seen as universal and successes as specific are indications of a more pessimistic viewpoint. Successes that are seen as universal and failures as specific tend to have more resilience. For example, two people lose their jobs. The person who sees this as a specific problem in their career yet feels competent as a parent, lover, singer, etc. will be able to bounce back more quickly from set backs.

Do you blame yourself when stuff hits the fan or do you blame the fan? Personalization of misfortunes and fortune is the last factor. People with high self-esteem frame misfortune as outside of them (i.e. the equipment was faulty, people were tired) while attributing fortune directly to them (i.e. I am a good public speaker, I am a hard worker).  People with lower self esteems consistently think setbacks are their fault and give praise to others when it is on the up swing.

Next time your faced with a hardship or success pay attention to how you think about it. Who do you give credit to when problems occur? Who gets credit when things are going well?