I came across a helpful anecdote while reading the Daily Stoic. It’s about a Zen master who owns a beautiful glass cup.
The master would repeat to himself, ‘The glass is already broken.’ He enjoyed the cup. He used it. He showed it off to visitors. But in his mind, it was already broken. And so one day, when it actually did break, he simply said, ‘Of course.’ — The Daily Stoic
We’re programmed by society to always look at things positively, which often leads to disappointment. When you think about it, our rose-colored glasses set us up for woe:
- The meeting will be helpful and short.
- My colleague will listen to reason and understand.
- The new curriculum will be better than the last.
- The students will pay attention.
- Nothing will go wrong.
Let’s switch this up. What would the Zen master say?
- The meeting will most likely not help and run long.
- My colleague probably won’t listen to reason, and I’ll have to work hard to make him understand.
- Most likely the new curriculum will have components that aren’t better than the last.
- I’m going to need to bring my A game regarding classroom management today.
- Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
By tweaking your thinking, you sidestep disappointment and find yourself in a position to work hard and solve problems. This is where productive positivity comes into play, because now you can constructively deal with the issues you weren’t expecting. Complaining, anger, and resentment disappear.