A few months ago I met a man named Kenny. He was telling me how much he enjoyed his work and how fortunate he felt to be doing what he does for a living.
“It doesn’t feel like work”, he said. He went on to explain how there were many younger, more tech savvy people snapping at his heels to do what he does. His attitude was, “It’s great. If they end up taking my job it means I can do something else, have a change and learn something new”.
Clearly Kenny was choosing to see his situation in a certain way and it reminded me that in every moment we are making a choice – consciously or unconsciously. Whether we are aware of it or not, in every moment, in every situation, we are choosing to view the world around us in a particular way. This is what differentiates us from others in the animal realm – as humans we have the potential to make choices. I would take this a step further – as humans we have the potential to make better choices.
When you distill it all down we are essentially choosing one of two options: either we are going to see the high-end or we are going to see the low-end. We see the cup as half-full or we see the cup as half-empty. Kenny is a cup half-full kind of guy.
A cup half-full kind of person is choosing to see the upside of a situation or person. Their default position is to validate the high-end and they do this by starting from a place of positivity.
They attend to that which is best and most uplifting.
They are looking for the potential for growth and development.
They are alert to the cues that point to progressive change.
They understand that something good is happening – ALWAYS.
They accept that there is a reason for everything – NOTHING is random, everything is connected.
They know that what they put their attention on will grow – validate the high-end and that becomes stronger.
A cup half-empty kind of person is choosing to see the downside of a situation or person. Their default position is to validate the low-end and they do this by starting from a place of negativity.
They attend to that which is worst and most limiting.
They are looking for the potential for destruction and loss.
They are alert to the cues that point to progressive deterioration.
They believe that something bad is going to (or may) happen – ALWAYS.
They experience themselves as disconnected from the whole – EVERYTHING is random and chaotic and separate.
They have forgotten that what they put their attention on will grow – validate the low-end and that becomes stronger.
So how do we begin to break the habit of seeing the cup as half-empty? How do we opt for a more progressive interpretation of Reality? How do we train ourselves to see the highest and best in ourselves and the world around us? How do we begin to get beyond the prison of those mind-made thought patterns that have built up from the layers of conditioning over the years?
Stop thinking and start Being.
At your essence there is a state of consciousness that is deeper than the thoughts. It is beyond thinking. It is transcendental and it is the place from where all the thoughts come. Let go of the hypnosis of social conditioning that says we need to do something more in order to get something more. Instead learn how to step beyond doing and simply Be in our least excited state of awareness.
Witness the thoughts.
By witnessing the thoughts we create some space between us and the steady stream of cognitions that we can so easily become identified with. Like any habit, we need to see it in order to break it. Awareness of what we are doing is crucial to bringing about any change. Step back from it in order to see it. When we do this, we give ourselves some space between us and the thoughts. Immediately their grip starts to loosen as we begin to feel the quiet sense of something deeper that exists behind them. The thoughts are not who you are. By stepping back from the thoughts you can begin to experience a deeper dimension than the mind – that layer of awareness that lies beyond.
Identify the patterns.
The first place to start working on developing the cup half-full habit is to start applying it to yourself. Too often the internal voice of the intellect is a pattern of negation – not good enough, not smart enough, not tall enough, not funny enough, not attractive enough, not rich enough… Oh so exhausting and yet so gripping. Most of us know how easy it is to get caught in the momentum of this kind of thinking and it drags us along, leaving us feeling emotionally bruised and battered.
Having stepped back from it, see it, note it and then feel it. As the grip of the compulsive spiral of negating thoughts begins to loosen we can see them for what they are: ahhh, there is a pattern here… hmmm, I’ve felt this before… ok, I see where this is coming from…
Practise gratitude for what is.
That for which we are grateful will be that for which we feel good about. So start to build a list of all the things in your life to be grateful for. There are many – I assure you. Simply get that pen to paper and start writing. When we do this, we shift our awareness onto that which we value in our life. That which we appreciate and we want to grow. Immediately you are flexing a new mind muscle – the cup half-full muscle. And it will feel good. Every day – get pen to paper and write ten things to be grateful for. It doesn’t matter if some of them were on yesterday’s list. Write what comes to you in the moment – don’t over think it.
Funnily enough, when we begin to flex this muscle it gets stronger and stronger. We start to notice more and more of the sweetness in our life. The little things begin to add up to something big.
Thank you for that smile from the cashier in the supermarket. Thank you for that warm sunshine on my back as I stand outside the coffee shop waiting for my turn. Thank you for the snack mid-afternoon when I was feeling a bit tired and cranky. Thank you to that person who slowed down and let me join the traffic. Thank you for the knowledge of how to settle down and close the eyes…
And interestingly when you are someone who lives their life in this way it becomes contagious – it uplifts others so they start to see the higher choices. Now that’s something to be grateful for.