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September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
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Is Your Cup Half Empty?


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You can view your cup as being half full with the hope it will fill up one day, or you can see it as being half-empty, and focus on the emptiness and “ignore the flowers” as you worry it will get even emptier.

Like everyone else in our community, I have had several friends who battled cancer. All had a tough battle ahead of them. Toxic drugs were being poured into their bodies in a valiant attempt to destroy the insidious cells that threatened to overcome them. Often they struggled with the devastating side effects of this chemical cocktail they were absorbing.

But even though their medical situations were similar, how they mentally dealt with their new status quo was often as different as night and day.

Two in particular come to mind. Both, I am happy to say, are alive and relatively well, years after their ordeal.  However, one of them, during her illness already sat shiva for herself, convinced that she was going to die.  She even told her friends what items from her closets they could help themselves to.

The other insisted that she was going to win her battle and refused to see any setbacks as indicative of the outcome. “I may lose ground here and there, but in the end I will win this war,” she declared repeatedly.

When she felt up to it, “Mrs. Positive” would go out to eat with her friends, attended smachos, and tried to live her life the way she did before her diagnosis.

“Mrs. Negative” closeted herself at home, bemoaning her cruel fate. How she wished she could go shopping, she would whimper. “Aren’t you feeling well enough to go out?” her friends would ask concerned.  “I actually feel better today but what is the point of buying anything? I’ll be dead soon anyhow!”

Her friends, some of whom had also “been there, done that” in regards to life-threatening medical conditions and illnesses, wore themselves out trying to convince her to be hopeful. But to no avail.  At some point I told her that she shouldn’t be so afraid of dying since she was “dead” already.  She refused to go to weddings since they were “too painful” a reminder “that she’d never see her kids under the chuppah (her eldest were teens at the time).  She loved doing needlepoint, but gave it up; it was unlikely she would live long enough to finish what she started.

Yet Mrs. Positive lived her life as she had all along, and her positivity infused that same quality in her friends and relatives, even years later when some of them were diagnosed with illness. And she is their best cheerleader.

Yes, our cups are not as full as we would like them to be, but then again, they aren’t as empty as some of us think they are.  At the end of the day, it’s how you look at it and allow yourself to see it!

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