By Valerie Young
You’ve heard the expression that some people see the glass as half full while others perceive the same glass to be half empty? I had the opportunity to see this difference in perception in action.
One summer, my father and I drove to the airport to pick up my some family members visiting from Florida. It was 100 degrees and muggy. "Knowing" there wouldn’t be any parking spaces close to the terminal, my father was inclined to head directly to the back lot where we’d be sure to find a space.
I, on the other hand, was inclined to start with the row closest to the terminal and work my way back. Since my father was literally in the driver’s seat, he reluctantly agreed to check out the last row in the front lot. If we didn’t find something there, he said, we’d proceed directly to the back lot. Not only did we find a spot, but as we were walking to the terminal we passed a primo front row space. His response? "It probably wouldn’t have been there when we were looking."
In other words, I prefer to think that things will work out. My dad presumes they will not. Not surprising, during his adult life, my father held two jobs. He was horribly exploited in his first job and left only at my mother’s constant urging. He stayed at his second job for over 30 years. In part, my father’s long job tenure has to do with that fact that he is a product of a time when there was a different set of rules regarding employer-employee loyalty. You got a good (or even a not so good) job and you stuck with it for life.
There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with staying in the same job or town or anything else for an extended period of time. My mother’s family has lived in this same area of Massachusetts since the 1600s. My father’s family came at the turn of the last century. I love it here in what is known as the Pioneer Valley, and despite feeling tremendous pressure after graduating from college to go somewhere new, I have never had any desire to move any place else on a permanent basis.
When staying in one job or place too long IS cause for concern though, is when it is not driven by a sense of contentment but by the belief that things will not work out anyway, so why bother. A lousy attitude will kill a dream faster than just about anything else.
If you find yourself automatically driving to the back lot of life, maybe it’s time to do an attitude check:
Do you see yourself as deserving of happiness?
Do you think things will probably work out for the best and, if they don’t, do you see that as an opportunity to try again?
Do you see yourself as the director of your life or as a bit player operating from someone else’s script?
Do you think that life generally has it out for you and therefore it is hopeless to even try to change your life? Or do you see life as Helen Keller once described it as being, "an exciting adventure or nothing at all"?
Pessimists THINK a lot about changing course; unfortunately those with a negative attitude rarely ever act on their dreams. If you are prone to pessimism but really DO want to go after your dream of a more meaningful work/life, you may need to first practice viewing things from a positive perspective.
Moving from a pessimistic, hopeless view to an optimistic, hopeful one will not happen over night. It is a goal that must be worked on one day at a time. Start by taking one situation each day and trying to reframe it from a glass half-full perspective. Fake it if you have to. After a while you will find yourself readily being able to not only see the glass of life as half full, but enjoying a long, quenching drink from it as well.
When it comes to successfully changing course, attitude really is every thing. That’s because as Henry Ford once put it, "If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right."