What’s Filling Your Glass?

Take a moment to consider how your attitude affects your daily happiness -the successes you may or may not enjoy in your life.

My father was a famous glass-is-half-full kind of guy. He referred to what most people call problems, as opportunities. In the course of his life, he had many, many opportunities, but he always kept a positive attitude even through to the very end, when cancer took his life at what seems to me now, the very early age of seventy. We used to say about him, “If he ever stepped in horse manure, he’d respond with: ‘there must be a pony around here somewhere!’”

He’d agree with J. Sidlow Baxter: “What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.”

In some ways, we are born with elements of our attitudes. I remember many years ago my wife was back-to-school shopping with our boys. She was in the hustle and bustle of a busy Walmart with our nine and six year olds, and most of the rest of the town on the same mission. She hunted down an extensive list of pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, rulers, socks, underwear, shorts, shoes, shirts, household items, and a basketball. The shopping basket was filled and overflowing. It was Christmas in July.

After her two hour expedition through every corner of the million square foot store, and $500.00 worth of items somehow repacked into the cart after checkout, she headed to the exit. As they approached the doorway, a shrieking alarm went off. Red lights were flashing; a security guard jumped up from his chair and quickly headed their way. Hundreds of customers and clerks all stopped to stare and see what was going on with the frazzled lady and her two kids, apparently trying to sneak some items out of the store.

Time was frozen. In that split second of chaos and activity, the God-given attitudes of the two boys in the spotlight were revealed. One boy slam dunked the new basketball into the shopping cart, and bolted through the doorway into the parking lot dashing to the car, faster than Bonnie and Clyde leaving a bank robbery. The other one looked up at his mom with a sparkle in his eyes and a bright beaming smile, and said, “Mom! What’d we win?”

So, if we are born with our attitudes, does that mean we can’t change them? Not at all. That’s the beauty of the human mind. That’s the beauty of God’s gift of freewill. We have the capacity to determine our outlook on whatever opportunities life places before us. Henry Ford said, “If you say you can or you can’t, you’re right either way.”

I worked for a time in an outbound call center. It was a tough job making hundreds and hundreds of cold calls each week to homes and businesses. Even though it was for a great cause, people weren’t always receptive to our message. That was a job where attitude made all the difference between successfully recruiting people to join the mission, or not. You could have a great day sharing wonderful stories with people, or live each minute as if it were a tortuous, agonizing eternity.

Many people could not last a month on the job. Most would quit within a year. And yet there were a handful that had worked there for years and years. I saw that it was their attitude towards the job that made all the difference.

There have been times in my life when I’ve been discouraged because of difficulties, setbacks, and the opportunities in my life’s journey. And there were times when I questioned why God was doing this or that to me, or just: “God, why are you allowing this to happen to me?”

It has taken time and experience to learn that God does not hand out treats, treasures, or demerits based on effort or performance on my part. There’s no report card with A’s, B’s or even F’s from God at the end of the month.

But, I have learned that along the journey, God is with me. We go through the good times, the bad times, and the everything in between times. God’s there whether I acknowledge his presence or not. But the hills and valley’s of life are made much easier with a positive attitude, and the realization that God is along for the ride with me.

To answer my son’s question: that’s what I’ve discovered we “Win!” when the sirens are sounding, lights are flashing and the opportunities of life comes calling. And when I step in it, I must remember, there must be a pony around here somewhere.

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