Keeping the Proverbial Glass Half Full

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A friend recently caught me off-guard when she complimented my ability to renew and reinvent myself following some major shifts in my life. She described how others shut down and were unable to function normally while I kept the ball rolling and continued forward. I was surprised (and flattered) to hear this and took some time to reflect on what she had said.

What it really boils down to is perspective and attitude. Needless to say, I’m not the first individual to come to this conclusion, but just one in an endlessly long line of those less interested in the enormous list of social expectations drawn up by contemporary society which cause anxiety. Apathy is a bit of a dirty word now, with more negative connotations than positive, however the original Greek word apatheia was used by the Greek Stoic philosophers to describe a lack of emotional response to events outside of our control. And there are a great deal of things outside of our control which still cause us anxiety despite that fact. I think that overcoming the desire to control what is uncontrollable is key in maintaining a happy and healthy life.

I can easily attribute this developing ability to roll with the punches and all of life’s lovely little hiccups to the teachings of British philosopher, Alan Watts. If you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Watts, I highly recommend searching for his lectures on YouTube (if for no other reason to listen to his lovely speaking voice) or reading one of his books on Zen philosophy. One of his more well-known statements is that life and our social conventions are games, which once taken too seriously cease to be games anymore.   And when this happens, we take them too seriously and worry over the outcome.

So it’s been a long time coming, but when things simply do not work out the way I expected them to, I am beginning to be able to keep going forward. And really that is the only direction to move in. This attitude is not due to some sort of melancholy resignation on my part, but a joyful optimism that while there will always be sad and difficult moments throughout life, there will be a great deal more beautiful and enlightening experiences. I can truthfully say my glass, or cup of tea more often, is most certainly half full.

 

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