Episode 009: The Glass of Water
The Glass of Water
One day, a psychologist walked around a room with a glass of water while teaching a stress management presentation to an audience.
He held up the glass as he circled the room and everyone watched with little interest as they all expected to be asked the classic "is the glass half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on his face, he inquired: "How heavy is this glass of water?"
The psychologist had piqued the interest of the audience immediately. Answers were called out throughout the room, “8 oz! 13 oz! 200 grams! 350 grams!”
The psychologist replied, "Those are some great guesses, but I actually don’t know the weight of this at all.” The crowd laughed a bit and then the psychologist pressed on.
“Although I do not know the absolute weight of this glass of water, let me ask you. What would happen if I held it up in the air like this for a few minutes?” “Nothing” the audience replied.
“Ok. What about if I held it like this for an hour?” Someone from the crowd shouted, “your arm would start to get tired and ache!”
“Precisely. What would happen if I held it for an entire day?”
“Your arm would go numb and you might even get some severe muscle stress due to lack of blood circulation!”
“Haha. Probably. But during this all, did the weight of the glass of water change at all?” “No”
“Then what would cause my arm to ache and the strain in my muscles?”
“The fact that you are holding it!”
“True. So what should I do now to rid myself of the pain?”
“Put the glass down.”
Life’s problems are something like this.
Hold it for a few minutes in your head & they seem OK.
Think of them for a long time & they begin to ache.
Hold it even longer & they begin to paralyze you. You will not be able to do anything.
It’s important to think of the challenges or problems in your life, But EVEN MORE IMPORTANT is to ‘PUT THEM DOWN’ at the end of every day before you go to sleep.
That way, you are not stressed, you wake up every day fresh &strong & can handle any issue, any challenge that comes your way!”
The Insights and Takeaways
The essential elixir of life. Water… Water you going to do after listening to this podcast? Haha Who would have thought that there would be so many different lessons and stories from a glass of water? This story in particular stuck out to me because when I first heard it, I also was expecting the classic “is the glass half empty or half full” story the second I heard glass of water.
That initial reaction is a lesson in and of itself. Don’t judge a book by its cover and don’t judge a story by the first phrase.
But what I wanted to dive into is emphasizing on the insights that the psychologist in the story made.
First is our natural tendency to hold the glass of water for an extended period of time. I am undoubtedly guilty of letting my stresses overtake me to the point where I am petrified and can’t do anything else. What I am more fascinated with though, is the fact that I do this on purpose knowing full well how unhealthy it is. What comes to mind to help me process this, is a quote I read once by a Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Choosing to hold a glass of water for an extended period of time is our choice. Choosing to let our problems run wild in our minds and stressing about them is also a choice. Yes, I do agree that thinking about problems and processing them is important, but at a point, we have to let go… but in my life, that hasn’t been as easy as it sounds and I did a lot of reflecting on why that is. Why do I choose to suffer?
One of the first examples that come to my mind is when I was in a fight with one of my best friends in high school. We had a huge argument and the whole ordeal slowly consumed my life. At school I would stress about how I should act around him and how my other friendships were affected and who I could “trust”. Outside of school, I was equally stressed in who I “could” hang out with and who actually cared about how I felt. Throughout it all, I never put my glass down. I thought about the fight. I talked about the fight. I lived and breathed the fight day and night for weeks and I suffered from it dearly. My grades started slipping, people didn’t like being around me, and I was just negative and pessimistic all the time.
Looking back, I had an epiphany. I realized a lot of my suffering had to do with fear and ignorance. I was afraid to just sever the friendship completely with one clean cut. I was afraid to lose my other friends that were still friends with him. And I was very ignorant in not being able to see the other options I had. At the time, I was just stressed and it clouded my judgement. Bottom of Form
I am a firm believer in being aware of the factors in my life that I can and cannot control. Back then, I couldn’t control how my friend felt. I couldn’t control the fight. BUT what I could have controled was how much time and energy I spent battling with myself about it.
I can’t run from pain, nor can anyone. But as we all know, when we allow that pain to fester within us and turn into suffering, we begin to lose our way. This week, I’d like to challenge you all to work on choosing to suffer less. Make the conscious decision to stop your suffering in its tracks. Learn to tackle your problems and stresses in a healthy way. Work through them, but do not be afraid to put them down.
Like the story advises, I challenge you to put your worries and stresses down before you go to sleep each night. Do yourself a favor and put the glass down. Get a good night’s rest. Wake up refreshed and face those problems with a refreshed and clear mindset.