Is Your Glass Half Full?

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Lesli NolenBy Lesli Nolen

Published April 2012

Is the glass half full or half empty? Is it tomato or tamahto? Art is in the eye of the beholder, right? Which is the correct answer, or are they both correct? The purpose of the question is to demonstrate that each can be seen differently, depending on the person’s point of view. It’s not right or wrong. It’s our perception; individually unique to our own interpretation of reality. There is no right answer; it’s simply one’s own perspective.

Perception is defined as the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information.

Our perception is normally based on our past. What we’ve experienced, our emotional, physical and spiritual state, and our peer influences. My perception regarding religious views will not be the same as those of a non-Christian or atheist views. My husband and I do not have the same perception on housework. My daughter and I don’t have the same views regarding all the new technological gadgets and her thinking she needs one of each! What a person views and how they view it are based on life’s experience.

In my weekly woman’s Bible study we are reading the book, “Calm My Anxious Heart,” by Linda Dillow. In one of the chapters she describes living a life in Hong Kong. She describes it as an exotic city with an unparalleled skyline. It has gorgeous ocean view, great wealth and constant happenings.

She describes the grocery shopping to be a delight, because she does it by computer and fax. She sends out her list and they are delivered to her doorstep later that afternoon. If that isn’t enough she talks about what great deals she gets on clothing. A dress that would sell for $150 in the U.S., she buys for $14. She describes an ocean view from her apartment that is just breathtaking. Her home is lavished with hardwood floors and huge windows, through which she can take in the view of lush tropical greenery and the city’s skyscrapers. She goes on and on. It sounds so wonderful; I want to add visiting Hong Kong to my bucket list. Then you turn the page in her book and she retells the story.

She calls this the “Flip Side Story.” She tells us that there are 6 million people that live in Hong Kong and in an area of 40 acres there are 70,000 people in that one village. She describes the bargain shopping, but goes on to say every day there is busy and hectic like the day before Christmas here. The ocean view is great, but it also makes the air very humid. It causes the walls to sweat, the building to mildew and makes her shoes a breeding ground for fungi.

The hardwood floors and view come with a high price. Rent rates increase every year.

Now, after hearing this side of the story, living in Hong Kong doesn’t sound that appealing anymore. Why? My perspective of the place is changed. Crowds of people, high rent rates and humid weather are not my cup of tea.

There are two sides to every story and to every situation.

Yes, we are in a drought and times are hard. I do not like going to the grocery store any more, the price of food is so high. I do not like having to ration—watering my trees and not being able to water my yard. I do not like paying $60-plus to put gas in my car. It’s all frustrating, right? Or is it?

I could change my perspective and be thankful I have two legs and two arms that allow me to push my grocery cart around and fill it with food. I am thankful and lucky I have a job that provides me with money in order to buy the groceries. I can be thankful that I still have a roof over my head and trees in my yard. I can be thankful in these hard times I have a car that gets to and from my job. I have a choice, I can either look at the stars, the positive side of things or I can look at the mud, the negative sides of life. It’s all about how we choose to look at the challenges of life; I choose to look at the stars!

I received the following in an email and will end on that note. Remember, it’s all about perspective.


A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects.

When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said, “I don’t believe that God exists.”
“Why do you say that?” asked the customer.

“Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn’t exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would not be so much bad in the world. I can’t imagine a loving a God who would allow all of these things.”

The customer thought for a moment, but didn’t respond because he didn’t want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt.

The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber, “You know what? I don’t believe barbers exist.”

“How can you say that?” asked the surprised barber. “I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!”

“No!” the customer exclaimed. “Barbers don’t exist, because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.”

“Ah, but barbers DO exist! What happens is, people do not come to me.”

“Exactly!” affirmed the customer. “That’s the point! God, too, DOES exist! What happens, is, people don’t go to Him. They do not look for Him.”

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