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Welcome back, my friends. Here we are in week four of your New Year’s Revolution…
So far, I’ve suggested that you begin your new year by giving compliments much more freely (spread love and appreciation to those who grace your life).
Second, I suggested that you gain a bit of perspective on your life and stop fretting over problems that folks in Third World nations would love to have. Put another way, most of the problems we fret over are trivial. Stop wasting so much energy over them.
Third, I strongly suggested that you throw out that damn rule book that is making you judgmental and hard to live with and robbing you of happiness.
Now, at the beginning of week four, I’m suggesting that you think like a chemist.
Okay, you say, the man’s lost his mind.
Before you send the folks with a straight jacket to my home, here me out.
You’ve heard this old saw hundreds of times: Some people see the glass as half full. They are the optimists. Others see it has half empty. They comprise the pessimists.
To be happy, we are continually advised to see the glass half full — in other words, to deliberately look for the positive in everything. You’ll be happier — much happier — if you do.
I see nothing wrong with that advice at all. In fact, I highly recommend it.
Positive thinking will serve you well on the path of life. It’s one of the absolute most important ways to create a full and happy life.
So why am I telling you to be a chemist when you gaze upon that proverbial half-glass of water?
Unlike an optimist who sees the glass as half full or the pessimist who sees the glass as half empty, chemists always see the glass as full: half in the liquid state, the other half in the gaseous state.
Put another way, a chemist always sees the glass as full to the very top.
Translated: There’s good and bad, and that’s life.
Further expounding on my thesis: To live a happy life, we need to focus on the liquid state, that which brings us joy, but to expect both, and not be disappointed when life appears like a half-empty glass.
Life will deliver much adversity. That’s guaranteed.
If you live your life expecting it to be a full glass of liquid at all times, you will suffer painful falls. If you learn to appreciate the fact that life can be a half-empty glass at times, you can better weather the storms. You learn to react less miserably when things go bad. When faced with adversity, I find myself saying, “Well, that’s how it is. I can get through this.”
I don’t focus on the pitfalls, I am just mindful that when they come, that’s part of life. It helps me enormously. Bad news isn’t such a shock. I expect it. And I know I can survive. I have many times. Just knowing that things go bad from time to time and that you can endure the pain and suffering, helps us all deal with life’s downs and live a happier life.
But there’s more to the philosophy of a chemist: Besides expecting a half-glass empty life at times, and knowing you can overcome, you can learn to appreciate the gaseous half of the glass – the bad times.
It may seem trite to say this, but that doesn’t detract from its veracity: You can’t have a rainbow without first experiencing the rain.
You can’t have happiness, and fully appreciate happiness, without having experienced sadness.
So, my friends, focus on what’s good and don’t let life’s adversity ambush you. Expect things to run amok from time to time, and when they do, know that you can survive it, and that something good will very likely come of it.
You may break your leg, but fall in love and marry the physical therapist who takes care of you.
You may take a wrong turn that delays your trip by 15 minutes but discover a new and more scenic route or a park you never knew existed.
You may lose your job but with the severance package find you have the time and money to pursue that business you always dreamed of starting.
Try out this new way of looking at life. I'll grant you an honorary degree in chemistry, with a major in which the glass is always full and all is good.
Contributing editor Dan Chiras is a renewable energy and green homes expert who has spent a lifetime learning life’s lessons, which he shares in his popular blog, Dan Chiras on Loving Life. He’s the founder and director of The Evergreen Institute and president of Sustainable Systems Design. Contact him by visiting his website or finding him on Google+.