People ask me what kind of person I am, meaning do I see the glass as half-full or half-empty? I tell them that I am just thankful to have a glass with something in it. I have come to understand that how we view what we have in this life is all about the perspective. After surviving colon cancer and chemotherapy, I am just glad to still be alive to drink from the glass.
I learned this idea of perspective from my students. A student accustomed to receiving perfect scores on an exam or papers would be devastated to receive an 85. But, the student who had an everyday acquaintance with 50 or below on assignments thought they had reached nirvana, if they received the same 85 points. One wanted to me to re-evaluate the grade, and the other thought that ai was the best teacher, ever.
So, in life, I find that whether any event is a good thing or a bad thing comes down to how we interpret it. For example, when some people hear that I had a child die, they are confused when I don’t get angry and rant against God. How can I still believe and have faith in God after such a loss?
Don’t get me wrong, I feel the loss deeply. But when I remember that the doctors told me at age 16 that I would never be able to have a child of my own because of damage to my reproductive system from landing on the hood of a car after being hit by a boyfriend, to have miraculously brought my son in the world was such a gift. I was blessed that after three miscarriages, I delivered a beautiful, healthy boy.
I had him in my life for 30 years, which was another miracle, because he was not supposed to live past age 19. When I think of the parents whose children don’t live to be adults, how can I complain and be despondent? Instead, I praise my God for every day I had with him, and for his grandson, Malachi, through whom Malcolm continues to live.
So, I have learned to interpret all that life throws my way, good and bad, through the lens of the perspective of thanksgiving. I stopped comparing whether I have more or less in the glass than others, and, instead, concentrate on being grateful for the glass, for the many blessings that I receive each day, like breathing and eating.
It comes down to choice. Once a student came to my office crying and upset over receiving a 99 on a paper. Anything less than a 100 was a failure for him. I told him that I used to be just like him, wanted to make As on everything, and anything less than perfect was unacceptable.
But then, after making the Dean’s list with all As for six semesters in a row, I ended up in a mental institution for 28 days, racked with anxiety attacks fueled by extreme exhaustion and stress. I told him, “I am going to help you, by telling you what my psychiatrist told me, ‘Bs are good.’ Be thankful for the 99 and move on. Not one employer will ask you to se your transcript. Nothing is worth your sanity and finding peace in this life.” I think all he heard was that I was not changing the grade!
Choose to interpret life’s events through a different perspective, if you find yourself always thinking that you have less than others or that you are less than others. Consider viewing your life from the perspective of thankfulness, being grateful for what you have that you could have never received. Half-full or half-empty is not the right question. What’s more important is having a glass, especially considering that some people, just as valuable as you and me, don’t.