What would your answer be to a question like this? It’s important to answer it. Why, you ask? Well, from what I read and have experienced in life, people who view their lives as a cup half full tend to enjoy life better. Whereas people who view their lives as a cup half empty tend to not enjoy their lives all that much.
For example, I’ve learned something since living in the Midwest. Often enough when I say, “God bless you” to someone, quite a few people will reply, “He has.” They are taking the time to see all the Blessings in their lives- Blessings from God. They must thank God regularly for His Blessings because they reply rather quickly that response when I say, “God bless you!”
In the Bible, people who can see God’s Blessings in their lives don’t stop by thanking Him. They go further by being generous to others. They are not insecure, feeling any need to cling to what they have, so they are generous with their possessions. After all, everything they have, they believe, comes from God anyway. Therefore, God must be taking care of them, and they surmise will always continue to do so.
Not so the folk who see their lives as a cup half empty. Not only do they not see God’s Blessings in their lives, they tend to reflect only on what they do not have, clinging as a result to what they view as the paltry things in their lives. The further tendency is to believe that if they give what little they have away, then they will have nothing. And that’s scary. So, they are not generous, but rather cling instead.
In the end, it’s all interpretation as to whether I see the cup in my life as either half empty or half full. Nonetheless, how I see my world- or interpret my world- will have bearing on the extent I am optimistic or pessimistic. Consider Senator John McCain, the United States Republican Senator. He was a prisoner of war in Hanoi during Vietnam. How is it that he could stay so strong during his imprisonment that when released, he was strong enough psychologically to become successful in politics? Other pilots who experienced the same in Hanoi went into deep depression, some even committing suicide. The difference would lie in how each viewed their world.
We had an Auschwitz survivor address our Junior High class this year who shared horrible memories of that time. A bright student asked afterward what he felt about German people. He stated that there are “good in every people.” He weighed only 80 lbs. when he was liberated by the U.S. Army and after regaining his health, he moved to Germany and even dated a German girl. Nightmares not withstanding, he never surrendered to holding any animosity to all Germans.
Indeed, Victor Frankl went to this same camp. He eventually developed a system, a therapy that concentrated on finding meaning in life. Elie Wiesel said he will never forget the night he arrived in this camp, same experiences- different ways of viewing these experiences.
In the end, the world “out there” doesn’t force us to feel in a certain way. We choose how we will react to our experiences. We choose whether our cup is half empty or half full.
Blessings, Fr. Walter