Half full? What perspective has to do with recovery

It took me years to grasp this not-so-deep expression.  Rather than focusing on the full vs. empty, I'd get stuck with the half partSo while viewing a cup as half empty suggests looking at what's missing, and seeing it as half full connotes a positive outlook, I simply couldn't see it. The half empty description seemed rather positive to me. I mean, at least it's only 1/2 missing! I'm not sure I ever really contemplated half full—as in "it's just not good enough".

Take a look at the image to the right. What do you see?

And when you look at your body? 

Do you focus on all that's good about it, or get fixated on those parts that disgust you?

When you reflect on your eating yesterday do you highlight where you slipped, or acknowledge what was in place?

When you consider how you've eaten over the past week, do you recognize your mindfulness or your balance? Or can’t you get past where your eating, activity or behaviors were less than stellar?

Oh, and about that image above—did you note the black dot, a blemish of sorts? Or did you notice the full screen of white, of possibility?


Why would you take care of a body you despise—one you view as too fat, or weak, or unattractive? Why adequately nourish it, lovingly stretch it, gently exercise it? And why would you keep pushing for change if you can not appreciate the benefits of your efforts?

What if you woke up every morning with appreciation that you were still breathing, that you had the gift of another day? And what if you noted that, beyond the aches and pains, most systems functioned quite well? I know, I know—this maynot be the case for some of you. Persistent tinnitus (that high-pitched ringing in your ears), chronic hip pain, or knee or backaches, problems digesting or sleeping—these are nothing to be thankful for.

A patient of mine just told me about a buddy of his who's an avid hiker. He climbed all 48 4,000 footers in New Hampshire—an impressive feat, I'll tell you, as someone who knows those trails well; they're steep, rugged, filled with loose rock. It's certainly motivating, though, when rewarded with the stunning panoramas when we hit the peaks.

The only thing is, that successful hiker? He's blind, and hikes with a guide dog. Somehow I suspect he doesn't wake up and dwell on his lack of vision.

I really don't know. I am quite fortunate to have a body which functions at 100%, at least for now.

Do we need to experience the threat of loss of function to appreciate that our body works? Must we starve, or fast, to appreciate food? Can't we appreciate the power we have to change our reality, to shift our perspective?

Shift your thoughts

  • Perhaps you purged this week, but only once or twice—per week, that is, versus per day.
  • Perhaps you exercised, a goal you set for yourself, for 10-15 minutes per session—less than you intended, but more than you had managed to do in the recent months.
  • Perhaps you overate, but stopped yourself much sooner than you usually do, preventing an all out binge.
  • Perhaps you ate cookies, or cupcakes, but in reasonable portions, and perhaps you allowed yourself to finally taste them and thoroughly enjoy them. Imagine that!
  • Perhaps you are beginning to give yourself credit for some positive actions you are taking—just not all the time. 
  • Perhaps you can begin by identifying 2-3 positives each day, while getting ready for bed or when getting dressed in the morning.

Your intake, activity, or behaviors may be far from perfect, but perhaps you’re still moving forward. The work may not be done.

Maybe things aren’t so great. But have you lost the ability to create a positive shift, to see the white space?

Perhaps, it’s only half empty.

My gratitude to Rabbi Leslie Gordon and Rabbi Barry Starr for their recent words which inspired this post.

Consider these other posts on this topic:

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