©2018 Kari Carlisle
I’ve always been a glass half full kind of person. An optimist who is always looking for the benefits in the worst of circumstances. When I first heard the question, many years ago, if the glass has water at the halfway mark, is it half full or half empty, I was surprised to learn that anyone would automatically think of it as half empty. It still took years more to realize that some people are wired that way.
And that’s a good thing! We need people who see the possibilities in life, and we also need people who “play the devil’s advocate” so to speak. We need the people who always say “Yes!” to be tempered by the people who say, “Wait a minute….” We need to look at life from all angles.
If you’re a glass half empty kind of person, thank you for keeping me in check and giving me things to think about. I hope that I, in turn, can encourage you to see hope and exciting possibilities. Let us be yin and yang, never sinking to the depths of despair nor blindly skipping into dangerous conditions. Let us have the kind of relationship that continually builds growth. The only way we can do that is to be willing to understand each other and accept each other’s perspective.
I have dramatically oversimplified the situation. The fact is we are all much more complicated creatures. I may be generally optimistic about most things, but I can be pessimistic and even despairing, too. Pessimists, likewise, and not all doom and gloom. Life can hand us roses one day and kick our asses the next. Sometimes, everything is rosy for long stretches, and other times, we just can’t catch a break. How we deal with our situation varies from one day to the next and from one person to the next. Navigating life and relationships is not simple or easy, regardless of mindset or circumstances.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been thinking about what I’m thankful for. It’s easier for optimists than for pessimists, I believe, to conduct this exercise. Life’s crap may outweigh the good stuff in quantity but never in quality. I have a husband who loves me, friends who care for me, dogs that ease my anxiety and provide a fun distraction from my troubles. And believe or not, I love doing dishes, and there are always dishes.
So my advice to you this Thanksgiving, whether you’re an optimist or pessimist, whether or not life is kicking your ass, if you’re struggling to find gratitude in your heart, there are two things you must do. First, do what I do and focus on what is quality in your life. No matter how bad it is, there must be people, pets, activities that bring you some happiness. Second, do something to be the “quality” in someone else’s life. Help a friend, donate, volunteer, pay a compliment, and make someone else’s day. It will make your day, too.
And there is one thing you must not do. You must not compare yourself or your situation to others. Every person is on their own journey. Comparing only leads to negativity. Even the “harmless” thought that others have things worse than you diminishes the importance of your own circumstances and leads to guilt over having bad feelings. Remember that your feelings are valid, but you should never make decisions based on them.
If what I am saying does not resonate with you, if you are dealing with loss, anxiety, depression, or if you are having thoughts of suicide, you are not alone. And there is help. Whether or not you have thoughts of suicide, if you are in emotional distress, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.
For many, the holidays are a time of celebration and joy, but suicide rates go up during the holidays. Don’t get caught up in the holiday spirit so much that you miss helping the person who needs you. If you go out of your way to help someone in need, you will find one more thing to be thankful for, and you will have given someone else something to be thankful for – YOU!