Updated: Jan 31
I recently heard a really cool story about a psychology professor who walked up on stage to teach one final lesson – a stress management principle – to an auditorium filled with students who were about to graduate from college. As she raised a glass of water over her head, everyone expected her to mention the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” metaphor. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”
Students shouted out answers ranging from a couple ounces to a couple pounds.
After a moment of taking answers and nodding her head, she replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass is irrelevant. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the absolute weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”
As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your worries, frustrations, and stressful thoughts are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a little while and nothing drastic happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to feel noticeable pain. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”
If you’ve been struggling to cope with the weight of what’s on your mind, (we all have struggles) it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the "glass down".
Currently, I'm preparing to give a TED talk on November 12. I will be talking about lessons I have learned from overcoming the hardest days of my life. My father was murdered, I was viciously blown up while camping by the people who murdered my father, when I was 5 years old I was homeless, my mother was an alcoholic, and I could go on and on and on. It's so easy to focus on what's wrong with life and all of the negatives. However, I want to be happy. I have learned a really cool habit. The habit of positivity. Sure life has a lot of ups and downs, that's life. However, what's helped me to overcome and not give in to extreme anger, depression, and self-hurt has been the habit of positivity.
Trust me when I say I don't like the bad and sad things in life. I don't! However, I've realized that I am unable to control all the things that happen to me in life, but I can decide not to be reduced by them. For me, this is choosing positivity.
I've noticed at times it's so easy to be negative when things go wrong, or blame others for negative outcomes in my life. But do negativity and blame change anything for the better? Nope!
3 Helpful, Healthy Things You Can Do When Life Is Really Challenging?
1. Choose positive people.
Often times, we become like the people we spend most of our time with. I have a great group of positive friends I spend time with a lot. Their love for life, even in life's downs has a very positive influence upon me. Do you have positive people in your life?
2. Choose to become strong.
A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I realized I'm in control of the way I look at life. Truth be told, we either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. Do you choose to regularly let life's downs weigh you down? Now the key word is "regularly." Life's downs are no fun and they are simply a downer. But if you always / regularly get way bummed, that's not good. Do you choose to be mentally and emotionally strong?
3. Choose positive over negative.
In my life, I don't think happiness and a negative mindset can co-exist, (live together). Those who move forward with a positive attitude will find that things tend to work out better. How have you seen a positive mindset help you? How have you seen a negative mindset help you?
What has helped you to stay positive when life has been frustrating and extremely difficult?