Last night, the blue LED light on my phone lit up, as I readied for bed. I picked it up, and found a Facebook message from a chef that I’ve gotten to know. He told me about the slits on his wrists, and how he’d recently tried killing himself. It happened in the last day or two, so he was on pain meds. He wrote of the challenges he’d been facing every day, and my heart started to ache, wishing I could do something. His story isn’t unique, at all. Here, with this article, more than ever before, I hope to touch someone, anyone. We all go through life, but no one really teaches us how to feel, or react to the things that happen to us. Sadly, I think most of us never really figure it out.
‘The glass: is it half empty or half full?’
Frankly, I think this question is crap, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Our perception of reality doesn’t change reality, it just gives us a lense through which to interpret it — the way we want to. To run with the analogy, in the real world, we often have little, and sometimes no control over how full that glass of water actually is. We do, however, have control over our perception of it, and what we can do with it, which is incredibly useful.
Often in life, we sit there waving a half empty glass wishing things were different, and in doing so, show the world that life could have dealt us a better hand. Embracing such logic is wasted energy, because it won’t change anything — it certainly won’t make you any happier, in fact, quite the opposite. A more practical approach would be trying to shape one’s perception of reality around a more empowering story for ourselves. A story that’s based not on what we want, but rather, on what actually is. By doing this, we are able to navigate through the challenges of life in a way that allows for us to, in a weird way, use them to our advantage.
My mom died when I was 14, and for the five years leading up to it, bad news constantly bled through the doors of our house regarding the prognosis of her cancer. Through dealing with the loss of my mother at a young age, I learned some very important things about life, but it’s taken years of looking back, in order to discover how these circumstances and my reaction to them have indeed shaped my life.
You don’t always get what you want, and accepting that we can’t change that is liberating — it allows us to stop fighting it. No, this doesn’t mean we should sugar coat things, or distort reality into some fairy tale to help us sleep better at night, but we also shouldn’t perceive things as worse than they actually are — most of us are horrible at this.
In not always getting what we want, it’s important to ask, how can we make the most out of situations by finding ways to grow and learn about ourselves through them? This is where the magic of life happens, and where we discover more about ourselves than we ever thought possible.
It’s imperative to see obstacles as potential opportunities for growth, otherwise, we’d end up constantly reminding ourselves that ‘life isn’t fair’, whenever something happens to go wrong.
‘How can I learn from this, OR better, how can I use this to help others?’
We are all forced into situations where we’d rather not learn some hard lesson about life — a loved one dies, we lose a job, a spouse cheats on us, or perhaps we, ourselves get sick.
My mother passing away was the last thing I wanted as a teenager boy, but unfortunately, I wasn’t in control of that. I did realize that the only way I’d be able to enjoy the time I had left with her, was to actually appreciate that time, and to find the silver lining in those otherwise dark gray clouds. Some days were better than others, and often I’d fall asleep with tear swollen eyes, but regardless of how much I might have cried the night before, life went on the next morning, whether I was ready for it or not. Those last months and years of my mom’s life would pass us by, whether we were ready for it or not — whether we were grateful for that time, or not.
‘We could fight and complain about the rain, OR we could learn to dance in it. Regardless, the rain wasn’t going away.’
As I’ve grown into a man, and begun to understand this concept, I’ve learned that your happiness and peace come from your ability to control your mind, and what it says about a given circumstance. The media, the world, your significant other, and all the things that happen that are outside of your control will tear you up, as well as your relationship with them, if you rely on them to make you happy. The moment things go awry, we fall into victim mode — start blaming them, and making excuses, which, in the end, let’s us off the hook. We start telling ourselves that since we lack control over the outcome, we have no reason to change the way we respond to it, and we cease holding ourselves accountable.
You can go through life this way, and most of us do, but it’s a sad way to live, because it puts us in such a vulnerable position. It hands over control of our well-being and happiness to the things around us. I firmly believe that anyone who’s created success, fulfillment and true happiness in their life hasn’t done so without accepting life’s obstacles as opportunities for growth, by holding themselves accountable for the way they manage their response to any given situation.
My mother’s death helped me to become the man I was supposed to be, however, I never would have understood that fifteen years ago. It was a harsh reality, but one for which I’m incredibly grateful, as I look back. I’ve realized success in life is all about perspective and learning to dance, often, in the rain. At the end of the day, its not about the steps — it’s about making your way to the dance floor, listening to the music, and giving yourself a chance to learn, often, making it up as you go.
So maybe that age old philosophical question should instead be,
‘With the water in that glass — what are you going to do with it?’
What you choose to do with that glass of water? The way you answer that question — that’s what will make you successful or not.
— Chris Hill —
If you enjoyed this article or the video(below), it would mean a lot, if you’d recommend it by scrolling down, and sharing this or the video with your friends and social media.
MY TEDx TALK: CREATING A MEANINGFUL LIFE + CAREER