Futures Friday: The Optimism of Futurists — Filling the Glass

JT Mudge
3 min readDec 18, 2020


Original photo by Vamshi U on Unsplash — edited by author

For futurists, it does not matter if the glass is half empty or full, futurists are focused on filling the glass.

Over the last year, I have gotten to know many professional and aspiring futurists. We are an odd breed. We make known the unknown. We out the out-there. We publish the preposterous.

That is not to say we are all alike. While there is certainly a particular DNA trait to futurists, we are as diverse as any group of individuals, with perhaps one exception — the glass.

As with any group, some of us are optimists — the glass is half full. They tend to see the best in things and are generally excited to wake up to a new sunny day. Others witness the growing global trends of environmental, social, and economic collapse and see the glass as half empty — and only getting emptier. There is one thing though that we all tend to have in common, we are all working on filling the glass. Futurists do not sit on the sidelines — or better yet, we do not sit at the bar and see the glass as it is, empty or full. Rather we see what it could be. Think of futurists as the restaurant helper who is always filling up your ice tea any time you take a sip.

Let’s first look at the glass half-empty folks. I agree that there is plenty of reason to see the world and be pessimistic, or at least woefully pragmatic. However, why be a futurist if you are not going to work to change these trends and at least mitigate the coming disaster. I like to think of these fun folks as “future optimists”. The world gives them lemons and they are going to fill the glass with lemonade.

Now let’s look at the happy glass group. They see long trends in increasing social justice and the power of the people to create change. They genuinely feel better off than previous generations in most ways and feel that change is not only possible but that it is plausible, and that if we work together, everything will be more or less OK. However, they are smart enough to know that only by working together, and working diligently and thoughtfully, will we make a positive difference.

Both groups of glass gazers know that whether the glass is bone dry or the cup overfloweth, the glass will not remain that way. The conditions of the glass are not static. As futurists, we believe that positive change is possible, and really only possible, through studying the future. Professional futurists can not do this alone, however. It will take all of us, professionals and citizens, to proactively imagine the future, engage in dialogue, and fill the glass.

So fill a glass with your preferred beverage, and raise a toast to the future.

This article is part of the “Futures Friday — A Look Back at Looking Forward” series. Each week author JT Mudge reflects back on a week living in the future.



JT Mudge

I am an innovator, storyteller, futurist, and problem solver. I have a passion for sustainability and social justice. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jtmudge/