A brief hospital stay a few weeks ago brought home to me the importance of making The Habit of the Glass Being Half Full an essential part of our lives.
During my stay I spent as much time as I could walking the hallways of the ward I was in. There were no restrictions placed on my activities other than I was required to wear a mask whenever I left my isolation room and so, if for no other reason than to alleviate terminal boredom, I walked and I walked and I walked.
I soon found I was not alone. Walking is highly encouraged and many of my co-walkers had undergone major surgery one or two days prior to our meeting and they were up and walking as much and as frequently as they could.
So naturally I began talking with some of these folks.
I met two ladies who, on the same day, had undergone major surgery each to have a cancerous lung removed.
Having had lung surgery 19 years ago I have some sense of what they were going through however I am still the proud owner of two lungs and cannot imagine undergoing the type of surgery required to remove one of them.
The only thing these two ladies had in common was that they had each had a lung removed on the same day. Everything else was as different as one could possibly imagine.
One of the ladies spent minimal time walking the floor and when she did she would tell anyone who cared to listen how uncomfortable and difficult it was to do so while pushing a pole with an IV attached and other devices connected to things that appeared to be inserted all over her body.
She clearly was in pain and was loudly complaining of her pain and her expectation that it was going to last for several more days before it got better.
The other lady spent every possible moment walking the ward.
She had a permanent smile etched on her face and told everyone who would listen how excited she was at being able to begin a new life – for the first time in many years – with breathing no longer a problem. She glowed as she described her renewed energy just 24 hours after surgery.
When someone asked her whether she was in pain she smiled even more deeply and said “I am so thankful for this pain because the more it hurts the more it reminds me of what a great gift I have been given.”
Throughout my 6 day stay I frequently ran into these two ladies and, interestingly, they never deviated from their first day’s perspective. The first lady, speculated that she had developed an infection that was slowing her recovery while the second lady was counting the days telling everyone “Day three of my new life”, day four of my new life”.
Naturally I don’t know the circumstances of their surgeries nor can I speculate that because each of them had had a lung removed they were both going through identical experiences but it was just so interesting to observe how different they were.
I had the opportunity to spend a few moments in the patient’s lounge with each of them and they told me a little of their lives before surgery.
The first lady described how her illness had devastated her life and that even now she was unsure whether she could ever get back to her pre-illness life.
The second lady commented that the only drawback to her illness had been the loss of energy over time that had prevented her from doing so much of what she enjoyed and that she was absolutely confident, beyond any doubt, that within just a few short weeks she would resume her pre-sickness life as if nothing had ever happened.
The first lady on several occasions commented critically on the state of attention and the poor quality of care she was receiving while the second lady could not stop gushing about how wonderful and angel-like the staff were and how magnificently her every need was being attended to.
Yes, The Habit of the Glass Being Half Full really makes a difference in the quality of our lives and I was not surprised to learn that the second lady was scheduled to be discharged a mere six days after her surgery while the first lady didn’t think she would be leaving for quite a while.
Life often deals us cards we don’t like. We may not want to play the hand we are dealt but we have to and if we wish to have any chance of winning the game we need The Habit of the Glass Being Half Full to shape how we will deal with circumstances beyond our control.
We frequently cannot control the situations in our lives but we always can control their impact on us and The Habit of the Glass Being Half Full is simply a way of saying that regardless of what happens to me I will make the best of it and I will keep a strong, healthy, positive and optimistic attitude no matter what.
Many years ago a man named Norman Cousins – the author of a marvellous book called “Anatomy of an Illness” gave a talk called “Belief Becomes Biology.” At that time he was involved in research examining a patient’s attitude and beliefs pre surgery and its impact on their recovery.
In his talk he explained the research was painting a crystal clear picture that stated the attitude of patients about to undergo surgery determined unequivocally their level of comfort or discomfort post-surgery and how long they would remain as patients in the hospital.
My ‘research’ with these two ladies is not nearly as extensive but it sure brought home to me what a difference attitude makes.
The Habit of the Glass Being Half Full.
It costs us absolutely nothing.
It gives us absolutely everything.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.S.My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours continues to sell really well. Please visit us at http://www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.